New Delhi:The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Tuesday banned maverick fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar for five years after finding him guilty of repeated violations of discipline, virtually ending his international career which has been plagued by injuries and controversies.
The 32-year-old Akhtar, who appeared before a disciplinary committee earlier in the day on charges of publicly criticising the Board, has been banned from all forms of cricket but would continue to be a part of the Indian Premier League.
PCB Chairman Nasim Ashraf told a press conference that the Board had "lost confidence on Shoaib", who was already on probation for two years for hitting fellow pacer Mohammad Asif with the bat before the World Twenty20 Championships in South Africa last year.
"Shoaib can't play for Pakistan or anywhere in Pakistan. But he is free to play in the Indian Premier League which is not in our jurisdiction," Ashraf said.
"Shoaib's presence damaged Pakistan cricket at every level and he has been banned from playing in any form of cricket. PCB has lost confidence on Shoaib," Ashraf said in a strongly worded decision by the Board.
The ban effectively ends the controversial 11-year career of the world's fastest bwler, which has been rocked by injuries, disciplinary problems and a doping scandal in 2006 RPT 2006.
Akhtar took 178 wickets in 46 Tests and scalped 219 in 138 one-day matches during his career. "It is a sad day for me and for Shoaib Akhtar. He is such a talented player," said Ashraf.
The PCB chairman said Akhtar had the right to appeal against the decision.
Akhtar was fined 3.4 million rupees (USD 52,000) and banned for 13 matches for hitting Asif with a bat last year.
Ashraf said that spinner Danish Kaneria, who also criticised the PCB for downgrading him in the central contract, was severely reprimanded and warned against making any press statements.
"Since this was Kanria's first offense on discipline, he has been severely reprimanded and barred from issuing any press statements," Ashraf said.
Akhtar was omitted from Pakistan's list of 15 contracted players earlier this year and offered a special retainer deal, which he refused to sign. He then made some comments against the PCB which landed him in trouble.
The mercurial fast bowler last played for Pakistan in the third and final Test against India at Bangalore. He broke down with back trouble and was blamed for Pakistan's 1-0 defeat in the series.
He was not selected for Pakistan's five-match series against Zimbabwe in February and was also left out of next month's first two ODIs against Bangladesh.
I don't accept this ban, says Shoaib
Shoaib Akhtar has made it clear that he would take legal course to get the five-year ban imposed on him the by Pakistan Cricket Board overturned.
"I have always given my best for my country and the national team. I do not accept this ban. It is a harsh and unfair decision as far as I am concerned," he said in a statement shortly after the Board announced the ban on him.