| Rameez Raja
Calcutta: Former captain and one-time chief executive of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), Rameez Raja, was one of the first to call for a life ban on Shoaib Akhtar after he struck Mohammed Asif. Understandably, then, he’s quite disappointed with the action taken against him.
“A 13-match ban sounds impressive, but in reality the ban is about to end... The public may have been taken in by the number, but the punishment is far short of what Shoaib deserved,” Rameez told The Telegraph on Saturday.
A member of the 1992 World Cup-winning XI, Rameez is currently in India on a TV assignment.
Besides the ban, conveniently calculated with retrospective effect, the PCB slapped a $57,000 fine on the temperamental speedster. As the ban came into effect from the start of Pakistan’s World Twenty20 campaign, Shoaib is eligible for selection from the last ODI versus South Africa — in Karachi on October 29.
What’s much more significant is that he’s available for the tour of India, which begins on November 2.
“I don’t know how the PCB decided that the ban would be for exactly 13 matches... Obviously, the impression one gets is that the tour of India was kept in mind... However, I’ve always maintained that indiscipline in any form shouldn’t be condoned and Shoaib has got away lightly... The monetary punishment will pinch, yes, but that’s about it,” Rameez said.
Back in April 2004, as the then PCB chief executive, Rameez made Shoaib undergo a series of tests as there’d been a suspicion that he’d faked a rib injury during the series-deciding Rawalpindi Test against India.
“As I’ve told you earlier, I’ve never trusted Shoaib... I’m not sure how welcome he’s going to be in the dressing room and, given that he self-destructs, I won’t be surprised if Shoaib does something else in the next two-three months... We haven’t, I’m sure, seen the last of his misdeeds,” Rameez added.
Rameez laughed when asked to comment on counselling being mandatory for Shoaib. “I’ve heard and read about it... If you ask me, Shoaib’s counsellor will need counselling! It’s okay for the PCB to make it mandatory, but who is going to spend time with him'”
Having made his debut (1984) when the Pakistan dressing room had such greats as Imran Khan, Javed Miandad and Zaheer Abbas, Rameez signed off saying: “I played in an era when we had real big stars... Some of the biggest in the history of cricket, but nobody behaved like Shoaib... It’s painful that he has given Pakistan such a bad name...”
Indeed, one wonders whether Shoaib (who, at 32, isn’t getting any younger) would’ve got away had one Bob Woolmer still been the coach.