Shoaib Akhtar has apologised to Nasim Ashraf, the PCB chairman, during the second meeting of an appellate tribunal at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore. The three-man tribunal, headed by Justice (retd) Aftab Farrukh, is reviewing Shoaib's appeal against a five-year ban imposed by the Pakistan board on disciplinary grounds.
Farrukh, while announcing that Shoaib had submitted a written apology to the Pakistan board's legal counsel, said the tribunal had decided to adjourn till April 30, when the board's arguments will be heard. "After a heated two-hour discussion on the charges levelled against the fast bowler, the situation took a turn when Shoaib asked for an unqualified apology to all public, to the PCB chairmam, and all his team-mates for anything which may have caused embarrassment for them."
Shoaib's lawyer, Abid Hasan Minto, later read out a statement on his behalf. "I would like to apologise from the bottom of my heart for any grief or embarrassment that may have been caused to the nation, particularly to the PCB chairman Dr Nasim Ashraf. I have resolved to alter my habits to refrain from such incidents in future and I will obey the PCB rules and regulations."
Meanwhile, Farrukh said the tribunal would make its own decision regardless of the PCB's response to his apology. "It doesn't mean that after submitting the apology, Akhtar will be exonerated, but still, it is an important development."
His apology means that Shoiab has satisfied one clause of a PCB notice which sought an unconditional appeal from him. The notice had also sought damages of Rs 200 million (approximately US$3 million) for "defaming" Ashraf and "sullying the name" of the Pakistan board and Pakistan cricket in general. Shoaib had, in an interview to the Express News channel, alleged that the ban was punishment for not having shared his Indian Premier League earnings with Ashraf.