The Sindh High Court has stayed the PCB disciplinary committee’s proceedings against former captain Shahid Afridi, and asked the board and the Pakistan sports ministry to appear before it on June 9. The court’s decision comes after Afridi had filed a petition challenging the validity of the sanctions imposed on him by the PCB.
“We filed a petition at the Sindh High Court against the PCB’s disciplinary committee and the punishments,” Syed Ali Zafar, Afridi’s lawyer, told ESPNcricinfo. “The court has suspended the committee [hearing] and PCB is bound to abide by the High Court. They have been asked to appear before the High Court the day after tomorrow and the punishments stand null and void as of now.”
This does not mean, however, that Afridi can play yet for Hampshire, increasingly the main objective of his actions. The Pakistan board will appear at the hearing on Thursday. “We have been informed that an order has been passed and even if a certified copy of it isn’t received in time, we will not hold the disciplinary hearing and respect the order,” Taffazul Rizvi, the board’s legal advisor, told ESPNcricinfo. “I will be there on June 9 assisting the high court to reach a just a legal decision on the matter.”
Afridi’s legal team had, until today, refused to be drawn on whether their client would appear at the PCB’s hearing tomorrow, or whether they would seek justice in the court of law. Yesterday, the PCB allowed Afridi to have legal representation inside the disciplinary hearing, one of his demands, but it has not stopped him from going to the courts.
Legal observers say this step may work against Afridi himself, for there is a chance that proceedings drag on for some time. It is also expected that the court will concentrate on whether or not the PCB followed its own process correctly in issuing a showcause notice to Afridi and suspending his central contract and revoking his NOCs, rather than taking on the role of a disciplinary committee itself.
This is now the second time in recent years that a high-profile player has taken the PCB to court to challenge a disciplinary punishment; in 2008 Shoaib Akhtar challenged a five-year ban handed out to him by the board under then chairman Nasim Ashraf. He eventually returned to the side, retiring earlier this year.
This dispute has swiftly risen to overtake even that one, which also required political intervention ultimately. Afridi has been in touch with and gathered support from various political figures and was given a strong show of public support when he landed at Karachi airport this weekend. The board has stuck to its stance so far, insisting the issue remain an internal, disciplinary matter.
The dispute between Afridi and the national board began when Afridi publicly revealed his disagreements with coach Waqar Younis after the tour of the West Indies. A three-member disciplinary committee had been set to hold hearings on the dispute at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on June 8 before the court passed it’s order.
Afridi had announced his retirement from international cricket after being replaced by Misbah-ul-Haq as one-day captain, while simultaneously attacking unnamed members of the board. The PCB responded by suspending his central contract and withdrawing his no-objection certificate to play county cricket for Hampshire, as well as putting together a showcause notice detailing several breaches of the code of conduct.