PCB pardons Shoaib over television appearance

Shoaib Akhtar walks back to his bowling mark Sohail Abbas

Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has been pardoned by the PCB after appearing on a television talk show during which he criticised the board's management. Shoaib had breached the terms of his central contract when, during the course of the programme, he said he had considered suing the board for releasing a confidential medical report on the skin ailment that forced him to miss the World Twenty20 in May.

Under the terms of his central contract, Shoaib was not allowed to give interviews without the PCB's permission or to criticise the team management. The board issued a show cause notice soon after and ordered Shoaib to explain himself. However, he sent an apology to the PCB, which was satisfied with the response.

"We don't want to further continue this matter as Shoaib has apologised for his mistake," Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, told Pakistan channel Geo Super. "It was very nice of Shoaib to acknowledge his mistake and the matter is closed now."

It isn't the first time, of course, that Shoaib has been pulled up over such scraps. In April 2008, he was banned by the PCB for five years after lashing out at the administration on being denied a central contract. The ban was later reduced to 18 months by a PCB-appointed appellate tribunal, though he was also handed a fine of Rs 7 million (around US $84,000). The ban was temporarily suspended when he appealed to the Lahore High Court, and the case resumed in court on Monday.

Shoaib, 34, has played 46 Tests and 144 ODIs for Pakistan and last featured in a one-dayer against Australia on May 3 this year in Abu Dhabi. However, he was not considered for the Test and one-day series in Sri Lanka earlier this summer and was also ignored for the ICC Champions Trophy which gets underway in South Africa from September 22.

His hopes of making an international return have possibly become a little brighter in the aftermath of this pardon, helped as well by reports that he has shed considerable weight over the last few months as Pakistan prepare to play three Tests in New Zealand in November-December this year, before visiting Australia for three Tests and five ODIs.