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Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Umar Akmal deserves his three-year ban, reckons Zaheer Abbas

Umar Akmal’s career has been littered with disciplinary issues, but this is for the first time that the middle-order batsman has been sanctioned for breaching the Anti-Corruption Code.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | Kolkata | Updated: April 28, 2020 2:27:39 pm
umar akmal, umar akmal ban, umar akmal three year ban, umar akmal spot fixing ban, umar akmal pcb ban, umar akmal corruption ban, umar akmal psl, umar akmal zaheer abbas, zaheer abbas, pakistan cricket, cricket news Umar Akmal is banned for failure to report spot-fixing approaches during PSL. (Source: Reuters)

Former Pakistan greats have little sympathy for Umar Akmal following the latter’s three-year ban from all forms of cricket on corruption charges. Pakistan legend Zaheer Abbas tore into Akmal for his tendency to “misbehave” and his failure to report corrupt approaches despite being a senior cricketer.

“How can you say he is a great talent when he isn’t following the rules? If you aren’t following the rules, then you aren’t a great player. Great players always follow the rules. Sachin Tendulkar, for example. If you aren’t following rules, you are doubtful about your career,” Abbas told The Indian Express.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Monday banned Akmal for not reporting spot-fixing offers ahead of this year’s Pakistan Super League (PSL). “Umar Akmal handed three-year ban from all cricket by Chairman of the Disciplinary Panel Mr Justice (retired) Fazal-e-Miran Chauhan,” PCB said in a tweet. He was provisionally suspended on February 20.

The former Pakistan captain also opined that in all likelihood Akmal wouldn’t be playing for Pakistan again. “ I think his international career is all but over. He deserved the punishment,” he said.

“He (Akmal) wasn’t a junior player. He was playing for Pakistan for a long time. He must have been told by the PCB about the ICC Anti-Corruption rules many times – what to do when a corrupt approach is made. But he was ignoring it. PCB got to know that somebody (a corruptor) was trying to get hold of Umar. Later on he confessed, but it was too late,” Abbas said.

The PCB formally charged Akmal with two breaches of its Anti-Corruption Code for two unrelated incidents on March 20. The charges come under Article 2.4.4 of the Board’s Anti-Corruption Code, which deals with the failure to disclose (without delay) “full details of any approaches or invitations received by the Participant to engage in Corrupt Conduct” to the PCB’s Vigilance and Security Department.

At a hearing at the National Cricket Academy, he represented himself, while the PCB was represented by lawyer Taffazul Rizvi.

Akmal’s career has been littered with disciplinary issues – including public criticism of former Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur – for which he received fines and suspensions. But this is for the first time that the middle-order batsman has been sanctioned for breaching the Anti-Corruption Code. In 2018, however, Akmal told Samaa TV that he had been offered $200,000 by bookmakers to leave alone two deliveries during Pakistan’s 2015 World Cup opener against India. “…every match I play against India, they offer me money to make some excuse and opt out of the game,” he had said.

Stormy petrel

Umar Akmal, Mickey Arthur, PCB, sports news, cricket, Indian Express This isn’t Umar Akmal’s first brush with trouble. (Source: AP Photo)

Akmal is a case of a talent gone awry. “From the very beginning, he used to misbehave. But when I was the Pakistan team’s chief batting consultant during a tour to Dhaka some years ago, he didn’t show any misbehaviour in front of me,” Abbas said.

Somehow, corruption code breaches keep surfacing in Pakistan cricket. From Saleem Malik to Umar Akmal, it’s a long list; Pakistani cricketers banned for corruption. “The PCB does have a robust anti-corruption programme. Akmal was caught because PCB was keeping an eye on him. But if Pakistan would were stricter on those players who started match-fixing, I think this (corruption) would have gone a long time ago,” he remarked, without taking names.

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