Umar Akmal's 18-month ban reduced to one year, cricketer fined Rs4.25m

Published February 26, 2021
Umar Akmal will be allowed to return to competitive cricket after serving his sentence and undergoing a rehabilitation programme. — AFP/File
Umar Akmal will be allowed to return to competitive cricket after serving his sentence and undergoing a rehabilitation programme. — AFP/File

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has reduced the ban on cricketer Umar Akmal to 12 months and fined him Rs4.25 million for breaching the Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) anti-corruption code.

Akmal was suspended in February 2020 for failing to report details of corrupt approaches made to him just before the start of the fifth Pakistan Super League.

The verdict from the Lausanne-based body will likely come as a relief for the troubled batsman with a history of disciplinary issues that has earned him a string of fines and bans during his career.

“It's a big relief for Umar,” the cricketer's brother Kamran told AFP. “He wants to play cricket and return to the field.”

The court announced its decision on the appeals filed by the PCB and Akmal against the order of the independent adjudicator, a statement by the cricket board said.

The CAS also refused to return two mobile phones to Akmal which are currently in the PCB's possession for a separate investigation. The CAS noted the PCB had the authority to do so according to its anti-corruption code, said the statement.

"Akmal [...] will now be eligible to reintegrate into competitive cricket subject to deposits of fine of Rs4.25m and undergoing the programme of rehabilitation under the PCB anti-corruption code," said the statement.

“The PCB once again urges and remind[s] all participants to abide by their duty and promptly report any approaches to the anti-corruption offices and help themselves as well as the anti-corruption unit effort to eliminate the anathema of fixing.”

Umar welcomes decision

Addressing a press conference in Lahore along with his lawyers, Akmal welcomed the CAS decision.

"I have never committed any wrong act and will never do the same," he said, adding that he wanted to play cricket.

He alleged that "some people in the PCB leak things", saying he had gone to the Board to inform it that he had been approached.

"If I am given the chance, I will definitely play," Akmal said in response to a question.

Akmal's lawyer said he had been told on February 20, 2020, after an interview that there were charges against him that he had not reported corrupt approaches made to him to senior officials. He was subsequently handed a letter and asked "to go home" because he could no longer play, the lawyer added.

He claimed that Akmal was issued the provisional suspension letter without the permission of senior officials and a reference against the cricketer was then sent to the anti-corruption tribunal.

"No one except the PCB knows who conducted the hearing in the anti-corruption tribunal and when," the lawyer said, adding that Akmal's absence was "used as an excuse" to award him a three-year punishment.

The counsel further claimed that "not a single [piece of] evidence or record exists against Umar Akmal", saying the period of ban on the batsman had ended.

He said Akmal's team will conduct legal consultation regarding the fine imposed on him.

The PCB's appeal was rejected by the CAS and it "did not get any relief from the court", the lawyer added.

Akmal emerged on the international cricket scene with a hundred in his first Test in New Zealand in 2009.

He has so far played 16 Tests, 121 one-day internationals, as well as 84 Twenty20 internationals.

But his career has been bridled by disciplinary problems, including an arrest after scuffling with a traffic warden in 2014.

The batsman was also sent home after he failed a fitness test ahead of 2017 Champions Trophy in England and has been hit with various fines over the years.

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