Umar Akmal's 18-month ban has been slashed by six months by the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), making him eligible to return to representative cricket as the PCB had originally suspended him on February 20 last year. According to the PCB, though, the reintegration is subject to the cricketer paying a fine of PKR 4.25 million (approx $27000) and taking part in the programme of rehabilitation under the board's anti-corruption code.
The charges came under Article 2.4.4, which deals with: "Failing to disclose to the PCB Vigilance and Security Department (without unnecessary delay) full details of any approaches or invitations received by the Participant to engage in Corrupt Conduct under this Anti-Corruption Code".
Conclusions in the CAS arbitral award, a copy of which has been accessed by ESPNcricinfo:
- Mr Akmal's appeal seeking to set aside the Independent Adjudicator's decision in respect of Count No. 1 is allowed and the sanction imposed by the Independent Adjudicator is set aside.
- The PCB's appeal seeking to set aside the Independent Adjudicator's reduction in sanctions in respect of both counts is dismissed.
- Mr Akmal's appeal seeking to set aside the Independent Adjudicator's decision in respect of Count No. 2 is allowed in part and dismissed in part.
- The determination by the Independent Adjudicator that Mr Akmal is guilty of an offence under Article 2.4.4 in failing promptly to report the approach and/or invitation by one Maya in January/February 2020 to the VSD is confirmed.
- The Independent Adjudicator's sanction on Mr Akmal in respect of Charge No. 2 is set aside and in its place the following sanction is imposed: (1) a period of ineligibility of 12 months and (2) a fine in the sum of PKR 4,250,000.
- Mr Akmal's request for an order that the PCB return his two mobile phones is declined.
- All other grounds of appeal and requests for relief are hereby dismissed.
Akmal was initially suspended just hours before the start of the fifth edition of the PSL last year, after being found guilty of failing to report details of corrupt approaches made to him. He did accept at the time that the incidents that formed the basis of the two charges pressed against him by the PCB had indeed taken place but said the circumstances were such that they did not merit reporting. He also failed to show any remorse for the incidents and said that he was not guilty of either charge.
"They don't have a single piece of evidence that can prove any wrongdoing," Akmal's lawyer had said. "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, however, stuck to its guns, and the decision to lodge an appeal at CAS against the reduction of the ban is understood to have been based on the board's attempts to stress on its zero-tolerance policy against corruption concerning players.
The legal battle between Akmal and the PCB was eventually taken to CAS, where both the parties had challenged the other. Akmal wanted his ban to be lifted, while the PCB had challenged the halving of the original ban from 36 months to 18 months by their own independent adjudicator - retired Supreme Court judge Faqir Mohammad Khokhar.
"I am fully ready and excited to play cricket again," Akmal said at a press interaction. "It was tough being out and sitting at home with my bread and butter taken away. I am very thankful to my family, after Allah, and everyone who stood by me and helped me return to cricket.
"I don't want to comment on my national selection. It's my job to play cricket and perform and it's up to them [the selectors] - if they think it's better for the country [to include me], then they will definitely give a chance."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent