Pakistan news May 30, 2010

Former Pakistan players slam overturning of Malik's ban

Cricinfo staff

Former Pakistan players, Aamer Sohail and Abdul Qadir, have criticised the decision taken by arbitrator Irfan Qadir to overturn Shoaib Malik's one-year ban and cut his fine by half. Speculation in Pakistan has suggested that political pressure was brought to bear on the PCB regarding Malik's ban.

"By lifting the ban on Malik, the PCB has succumbed to political pressures," Qadir, a former chief selector, said. "If the board had taken a strong decision, it should have stuck to it come what may, but their decision will now encourage the players to violate discipline and get away with it."

Since Malik had been pardoned, Qadir said, the PCB would have to do the same with the other players. "Now it's the duty of the board to clear other players also because it will be blamed to have done preferential treatment to one player after Malik is cleared," he said.

Sohail called the decision a "hasty" one. "To hide its own incompetence, the PCB targeted the players and, after pressures from outside, they abruptly lifted the ban."

The PCB had banned Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf, from playing for Pakistan in any format for an indefinite period, while handing out one-year bans to Malik and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan following the team's disastrous tour of Australia in 2009-10. Shahid Afridi and the Akmal brothers were fined Rs 2-3 million [$24,000-35,000] for various misdemeanours and put on six-month probations.

The charge against Malik was never clearly explained by the inquiry committee that decided on the punishment but it was widely thought to be for what a number of management officials and players called his negative influence on the side. This was confirmed in a subsequently leaked video of the inquiry committee meetings, in which Malik's role within the squad was blasted by a number of players including Afridi and Yousuf.

Sarfraz Nawaz, a former fast bowler, was scathing in his criticism of the PCB, saying it had taken "a coward's stance". "It's a decision taken under political pressure and will damage Pakistan cricket in the future," he said. "PCB took a decision against discipline breaches but couldn't stand the pressure from political forces. I also question the authority of the arbitrator as well who doesn't have the credibility and authority to take such a decision."

All of the punished players, apart from the retired Yousuf, had appealed against their bans and fines and will have hearings in June. Younis' appeal was scheduled to be heard immediately after Malik's but it was pushed back to June 5, while Naved-ul-Hasan's hearing was set for June 19. However, Iqbal Mohammad Ali, the head of parliament's sports committee, felt the delays were a deliberate attempt to keep them out of the Asia Cup in June.

"I believe the only reason in delaying the appeals of these two players is that the PCB does not want to include their names in the Asia Cup squad," Ali told AP. "He [arbitrator] should have given decisions on all the six appeals yesterday, but he just lifted ban from Shoaib Malik and reduced the fine.

"It surprised me that they kept only Malik under observation. PCB should treat all the players equally. If they had decided to lift the ban on Malik and reduce the fine, they should have taken the similar decision on all the players."