Former Pakistan greats condemn Shoaib’s ban

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Former Pakistan greats Tuesday condemned a five-year ban on fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar, saying the country's new parliament should sack cricket board officials to save the sport in the country.

"Disappointing is no word to describe Akhtar's ban, I would call it pathetic and request the new political government to sack Nasim Ashraf-led Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB),"
Sarfraz Nawaz, a former Test cricketer and once Akhtar's coach told a foreign news agency.

Akhtar was banned from playing cricket in Pakistan for five years for violating the players' code of conduct, effectively ending his 11-year career.

The 32-year-old Akhtar appeared before a disciplinary committee earlier Tuesday charged with publicly criticising the country's board. He was already on two years' probation for hitting a teammate with a bat.

Nawaz said he would urge new Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and other coalition leaders to take "a serious notice of this unjust ban because Akhtar is the only match-winner in the team."

Nawaz predicted the current PCB members will be removed from office in the next few days.

"I have come to know that this PCB set up, which has a personal vendetta against a talented bowler, will be removed and the high-ups have also decided on who will take over,"
said Nawaz, who played 55 Tests for Pakistan.

He did not say who he thought was lined up.

Former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif termed the ban "damaging for Pakistan cricket."

"Banning Akhtar will harm Pakistan cricket,"
said Latif, adding he thought the team would be significantly weaker as a result.

"PCB should have supported Akhtar more because there have been characters like Akhtar -- there was John McEnroe in tennis and our own Aamir Sohail -- who were temperamental yet talented and gave sports a lot to cheer."

Rashid Latif said he believed the ban would be lifted in two months.

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