Shahid Afridi will boycott PCB hearing, says lawyer

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The Independent Online

Shahid Afridi will boycott his disciplinary committee hearing on Wednesday, his lawyer said today, arguing that the Pakistan Cricket Board panel has already made up its mind to punish him.

"If this remains the process (of the PCB), we have taken the stand that we can't go," Syed Zafar Ali told reporters in the southern city of Karachi. "Within the ambit of law, we can't go to the hearing."

Zafar also said it was pointless to attend the hearing as the PCB has already suspended Afridi's central contract and revoked the No Objection Certificate which allows him to play cricket abroad — in response to the former skipper's criticism of the board and his decision to retire from international cricket.

"If there's any charge against anyone, he should have his legal representative, fair and proper inquiry should be held and then the decision made," Zafar said. "At least hear our client first and give him a chance to defend himself."

Afridi, who was flanked by his lawyers Zafar and Mahmood Mandviwala, objected to the four-man committee being composed entirely of PCB members.

"I couldn't understand the formation of the committee which comprised all the PCB officials," he said. "They will listen to me the same day, record my statement and then announce their decision."

The committee is to comprise of the PCB's director of domestic cricket, Sultan Rana, the general manager of domestic cricket, Shafiq Ahmed, and international cricket manager, Usman Wahla. PCB legal adviser Taffazul Rizvi will also assist the committee.

Rizvi told The Associated Press that the disciplinary committee would start proceedings in Afridi's absence if Pakistan's World Cup captain failed to attend the hearing.

"(Afridi's) suspension ... is a normal procedure, which was followed by the PCB," Rizvi said. "Ex parte proceedings will begin if Afridi opts not to appear."

Afridi was due to play for Hampshire in England's Twenty20 Cup competition, which is ongoing, but had to return home on Sunday night after the PCB revoked his NOC.

He said that he did not want any confrontation with the PCB.

"I want to play cricket," he said. "I haven't come here to get involved in an argument or fight with someone, I am a cricketer, I am here to get my NOC."

Afridi's differences with the PCB started after he criticized the team management on his return home from the series against West Indies and he was subsequently removed from the captaincy for the two-match ODI series against Ireland.

Afridi criticized PCB officials — including selector Mohammad Ilyas — before announcing his international retirement last month, in protest at his treatment. He said he could return to play international cricket if the present setup of the PCB was changed.

"When they removed me from the captaincy I came to know through media," Afridi said. "There was no letter no telephone call (from the PCB) and everything was going through media."

The PCB, meanwhile, said in a statement that it would not object if the disciplinary committee allowed Afridi to be assisted by a lawyer.

The PCB has also served a notice to Ilyas for answering accusations made by Afridi in the media and for violating a code of conduct.

PCB spokesman Nadeem Sarwar said Ilyas was delivered the notice last Friday, in which the former test opening batsman was asked to explain his reasons for responding to Afridi's statements.