The Pakistan Cricket Board has instructed its players not to make any further comments on the row involving Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif and Shahid Afridi. Nasim Ashraf, the PCB chairman, has warned that players speaking out of turn at this stage would only hamper the team's morale during the ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa.
Shoaib was sent home and handed an indefinite ban following a dressing-room scuffle, during which he hit Asif on the thigh with a bat. On arrival in Pakistan, Shoaib blamed Afridi for provoking him, saying that he made offensive comments about his family. Afridi later denied instigating the spat and said he couldn't understand why Shoaib targeted him.
"Shoaib and the others should keep their mouth shut on this issue," Ashraf told Reuters. "It is not helping either the team or the image of Pakistan cricket."
Shoaib is expected to face a three-member disciplinary committee hearing soon where he would get a chance to give his version of the events. "The disciplinary committee will look into every aspect of the unfortunate incident," Ashraf said, "but only in the presence of all the concerned cricketers in Pakistan after the completion of the World Cup in South Africa."
"Until the inquiry begins he should remain quiet," Ashraf said. "There is a code of conduct in place for the players and they are violating it by speaking on this issue which has already proved damaging for us. Comments by the players will only reduce the morale of the team."
Shafqat Naghmi, the PCB's chief executive, left for South Africa to start the inquiry. The other members of the disciplinary committee are Naveed Akram and Zakir Khan.