The steady descent of Shoaib Akhtar's career continued after the Indian Premier League (IPL) decided that he won't be allowed to feature in its tournament till the end of his five-year ban or until his ban is lifted by the Pakistan board.
"Shoaib has been banned by the Pakistan Cricket Board, and even though they have cleared him to play for IPL, we felt that international discipline needs to be respected," IS Bindra, a member of the IPL governing council, told Cricinfo. "If he can't play for Pakistan, how can we play him? There will be no discipline left in the game, if we play him. It will set an unwanted precedent.
"We [the IPL] want to be part of the international system, not operate outside it. If somebody is banned on disciplinary grounds, that is a serious offense, and we felt it would be very odd if he was to play in IPL."
Shoaib, however, plans to appeal the ban and if he wins, he could yet turn out for his team. "If he is able to clear the ban and wins the appeal process, he will be allowed to play", Lalit Modi, the IPL chairman, clarified to a private television channel.
A spokesman for the Kolkata Knight Riders confirmed to Cricinfo that they have been informed by the IPL that Shoaib will not be available to play for them. "In this situation, we will abide by the IPL directive as the final availability of a player depends on a clearance from the league."
However, Shahrukh Khan, the owner of the Kolkata franchise, said he will take the matter up with the IPL. "I will talk to Lalit Modi to reconsider the decision," he said. "I hope things get sorted out in our favour.
"I know I am allowed to take another player but I want Shoaib back."
Cricinfo has learnt that the Kolkata franchise is now free to look for Shoaib's replacement, though nobody has been identified as yet. Besides, the money that was bid on Shoaib [US$ 450,000] will not be counted in the team's spending cap of $5 million, and the franchise will be free to use that money to buy the services of a new player.
Only yesterday, Shoaib had claimed that the willingness of the Knight Riders to play him confirmed there were no disciplinary issues. "If I had been so indisciplined and had an attitude problem as the Pakistan board claims do you think that Shahrukh Khan or [Sourav] Ganguly would want me to play for their team in the IPL," Shoaib said.
Until he can clear his name, it seems they don't.