Shoaib Akhtar's ongoing war with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) took yet another twist with the fast bowler sacked as captain and removed from the regional side he was leading in the Pentangular Cup. Shoaib, however, insists that he is opting out of the tournament for personal reasons.
Shoaib had been asked by the PCB to take part in the tournament, as captain of the Federal Capital Areas (FCA) team, to prove his fitness for future international matches. He led his side to a draw against Punjab in the first round of matches, though only bowled 18 wicketless overs in short spells as FCA's bowling was hammered by Salman Butt.
The decision to sack him was taken by the FCA team management, citing poor performance, indiscipline and the negative influence he has on team-mates. The decision will raise eyebrows in any case, but moreso as it comes in the wake of a continuing spat between Shoaib and the board.
Shoaib has been openly critical of the board's policies, particularly in awarding central contracts, for which he was overlooked. He has also publicly refused to respond to the board's demands for an explanation of his comments, arguing that as he wasn't contracted to them, he isn't bound to answer to them. If he is found guilty of indiscipline or breaching the players' code of conduct, he could well be gone from Pakistan cricket, as he is already on a two-year probation period, in which any indiscretion could result in an automatic life ban.
Shoaib, however, told Dawn, a leading daily, that he was opting out because of his sister's wedding.
"I am busy in my sister's wedding, therefore, at the moment I am not available for any more matches and am not sure if I will be free for the last match of the cup also."