The legal battle between Umar Akmal and the PCB took another turn after the Pakistan batsman filed an appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Lausanne to overturn his ban, which was halved from its original three-year term last month. Akmal's move came after the PCB had challenged the ban's reduction in the Court of Arbitration for Sports earlier this month.
Akmal had been banned from all representative cricket in April this year after he failed to report details of corrupt approaches made to him ahead of this year's PSL. He did accept then that the incidents which formed the basis of the two charges pressed against him by the PCB had taken place, but said the circumstances were such that they did not merit reporting. On July 29, the overall sanction was reduced to 18 months by an independent adjudicator, retired Supreme Court judge, Faqir Mohammad Khokhar.
However, after the verdict on the reduction, Akmal's lawyer argued that the sanction be overturned due to lack of evidence against the player. "We have a wide range of grievances on the decision by the arbitrator and we have reached out to the arbitration court in a motion to set aside the judgement," Khawaja Umaiz, the lawyer representing Akmal, told ESPNcricinfo. "They don't have a single piece of evidence that can prove any wrongdoing. The prosecution was based on a phone call, otherwise there is no document, no bank transaction or anything that can substantiate their claim."
The PCB's decision to appeal against the reduction is understood to be based on its attempt to stress on its zero-tolerance policy against corrupt practices concerning players.
Salman Naseer, the PCB chief operating officer, said during a video press conference: "When judgement was reviewed, there were findings in which the judge wrote that the case against Umar Akmal is proven to the hilt. He also said that the statements of the cricketer are self-contradictory and, therefore, not credible.
"As far as the verdict goes, the independent adjudicator also wrote that he was looking at the case on compassionate grounds and gave his decision. To us the main question was whether the punishment be reduced on compassionate grounds at all. We also felt that the punishment for the two charges 18 months each should run cumulatively and not concurrently which the independent adjudicator eventually decided on."
In May, Akmal had filed an official appeal against the ban, challenging the length of the sanction and hoping to get it reduced. In similar cases in the past, Mohammad Irfan sat out for six months, while in 2017, Mohammad Nawaz was given a two-month ban. In recent examples outside Pakistan, Shakib Al Hasan - among the senior-most players in the game - was banned for two years with one year of that sentence suspended.
Akmal's case began in March, after he decided against contesting the two PCB charges, foregoing the right to plead innocence. The case was then directed to the chairman of the PCB's independent disciplinary panel, who after hearing both Akmal and the PCB, handed him the three-year ban. The judge, Justice (retd) Fazal-e-Miran Chauhan, had observed that Akmal had failed to give any plausible explanation for not reporting the matter to the PCB's vigilance and anti-corruption departments and was in breach of article 2.4.4. He was deemed to have engaged in corrupt conduct under the anti-corruption code of the PCB. He had attended that hearing without a lawyer, presenting his case himself.