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August 20, 2019

Sharjeel set to revive career following ‘unconditional apology’

Sports

August 20, 2019

KARACHI: Better late than never. Sharjeel Khan, the disgraced former Pakistan opener, took two-and-a-half years to realize that he needed to do something about a ban that had put a full stop in front of his international career.

The big-hitting batsman met with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) officials in Lahore on Monday and agreed to offer an “unconditional apology” for “irresponsible conduct that brought embarrassment to everyone”. He also asked for forgiveness.

Sharjeel’s apology means that he could return to international cricket by the end of the year. Following Monday’s meeting, PCB announced that a roadmap is now in place for Sharejeel’s re-entry into competitive cricket, who has already undergone an ineligibility period of two-and-a-half years for breaching provisions of the Board’s Anti-Corruption Conduct.

“It was agreed Sharjeel will complete rehabilitation, designed by the PCB’s Security and Anti-Corruption Department, before the end of the year and then reintegrate into top level cricket,” the Board announced.

The rehabilitation, among other things, will also include attending and delivering lectures on the PCB Anti-Corruption Code, visits to orphanage homes as part of social service and participating in integration sessions with the Pakistan cricket team players and player support personnel.

“I offer my unconditional apology to the Pakistan Cricket Board, my team-mates, fans and family for the irresponsible conduct that brought embarrassment to everyone. I request for forgiveness and assure I will show more responsibility in my future actions,” Sharjeel said.

“I remind all cricketers to strictly and religiously follow the PCB Anti-Corruption Code as breaching it will only earn momentary gains but the consequences will be severe and last for rest of the career.

“I have agreed on the future course of action with the PCB, including helping it in its education sessions on anti-corruption. “I will soon return to club cricket but will not rush into domestic cricket as I have been away for nearly 30 months and need time to reclaim my fitness and form,” he added.

The 29-year-old Sharjeel did not specifically address what he was apologising for, even evading repeated media enquiries on the matter after his statement had been submitted. A PCB official hoped that Sharjeel’s case will serve as a reminder “to all those who think they can get away with violating rules.

“We met Sharjeel today in which he showed remorse and regret for his actions. The PCB never takes pride in penalising its players, but it has a non-negotiable and zero-tolerance approach to matters relating to corruption,” said Lt Col (R) Asif Mahmood, Director, PCB Security and Anti-Corruption.

“I hope this serves as a reminder to all those who think they can get away with violating rules as the PCB is vigilant and committed to eliminate the menace of corruption from the game.”

Sharjeel was banned in 2017 from all forms of cricket for his role in the spot-fixing scandal that marred the PSL’s second edition. On the opening night, Sharjeel and Khalid Latif, playing for Islamabad United, were charged with five major breaches of the PCB’s anti-corruption code and were found guilty on all five counts by a three-man tribunal. Sharjeel was handed the minimum mandatory punishment on each of his charges. Latif received a five-year ban, with no chance of a waiver before the period ended.

During his ban, Sharjeel maintained his innocence and denied all charges, appealing against the ban before an independent arbitrator, and then in court, only to have it rejected. Since then he has been weighing his options, and finally chose to write to PCB chairman Ehsan Mani, requesting him to use his discretion to waive the remainder of the ban.

That appears to have been accepted, with the statement from the cricketer a part of the deal. The PCB also confirmed that the rehabilitation and reintegration would run side-by-side. It represents something of a departure from norm, where reintegration into cricket only becomes possible after the player has completed his rehab, but the PCB’s stance has softened in the wake of Sharjeel’s apology. —with inputs from agencies

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