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Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Tuesday, 1 April 2008 16:03 UK

Shoaib given five-year suspension

Shoaib Akhtar
Shoaib was the fastest bowler in the world in his heyday, at speeds of around 100mph

Shoaib Akhtar has been banned for five years from international and domestic matches by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

The fast bowler was charged with publicly criticising the board at a disciplinary hearing in Rawalpindi.

"I am deeply disappointed and hurt, I will go to court and fight against the ban," said the 32-year-old.

But Shoaib, who had been on a two-year probation for attacking team-mate Mohammad Asif last year, can still play in the Twenty20 Indian Premier League.

Shoaib claimed he had been made the scapegoat after Pakistan's Test and one-day series defeats by rivals India at the end of last year.

And he hit out at the PCB when he was not given one of the 15 central contracts in January, refusing to sign a special retainer contract on offer instead.

The criticism proved to be the final straw for the PCB, who also reprimanded leg-spinner Danish Kaneria for criticising the board in his online column.

It's a sad day for me and for Shoaib Akhtar. He is such a talented player

PCB chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf

"He (Shoaib) will be ineligible to play in Pakistan or to play for Pakistan anywhere else in the world," said PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf.

"The board has lost confidence in Shoaib Akhtar and therefore felt that his presence in the field was damaging to the Pakistan team, for Pakistan players and for the image of Pakistan cricket."

However, Shoaib has dismissed Ashraf's claims he was a negative influence.

"Ask the captain (Shoaib Malik), ask coach Geoff Lawson and they would vouch for me," he told reporters after the hearing.

"I had played with high fever on the India tour (last year), which proved my commitment for the team."

The ban effectively ends Shoaib's controversial 11-year international career, which saw him take 178 wickets in 46 Tests and 219 victims in 138 one-day matches.

He was twice sidelined over allegations of throwing and was also banned for a breach of code on tour and ball-tampering.

In October 2006 he was given a two-year suspension for testing positive for the banned steroid nandrolone but this was later rescinded on appeal.

There was more consternation in the build-up to the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 with the Asif altercation, which resulted in a ban of 13 international matches, a $52,000 (26,324) fine and the two-year probation, for a total of five disciplinary breaches.


But despite the repeated misdemeanours, Ashraf described the outcome as a "sad day for me and for Shoaib Akhtar. He is such a talented player."

The chairman added that Shoaib had the right to appeal against the decision.

On the field Shoaib, nicknamed "The Rawalpindi Express" had occasional moments of brilliance, helping to deflate England after their 2005 Ashes victory by taking 17 wickets to inspire a 2-0 series victory for Pakistan.

He also had a good record against the all-conquering Australians, taking five wickets in an innings on three occasions.

Kaneria was also charged with statements against the board, but was issued with a reprimand and a warning.

Kaneria had criticised his central contract demotion from category B to C in his online column, but later blamed a newspaper for publishing his words out of context.

"Since this was Kaneria's first offence on discipline, he has been severely reprimanded and barred from issuing any press statements," Ashraf said.

see also
Shoaib & Asif left on sidelines
30 Mar 08 |  Pakistan
No Pakistan contract for Shoaib
25 Jan 08 |  Pakistan
Shoaib banned after hitting Asif
11 Oct 07 |  Pakistan
Pakistan fine Shoaib for no-show
08 Aug 07 |  International Teams
Seamer Shoaib feared for career
19 Jan 07 |  Cricket
Bangladesh in Pakistan 2008
24 Mar 08 |  Cricket

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