Irfan's playing ban expires

Published: September 14, 2017
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BALL IN PCB's COURT: Irfan has served his six-month ban, which should technically make him free to resume his cricket career, although he won't be able to until PCB makes it official. PHOTO: AFP

BALL IN PCB's COURT: Irfan has served his six-month ban, which should technically make him free to resume his cricket career, although he won't be able to until PCB makes it official. PHOTO: AFP

LAHORE: The six-month ban on Mohammad Irfan ran its course on September 14, meaning the gargantuan pacer is now available for selection for next month’s Sri Lankan T20I series.

The 35-year-old was initially suspended for a year and fined Rs1,000,000 after he admitted failing to report approaches by bookmakers in the aftermath of the infamous Pakistan Super League season 2 spot-fixing scandal.

Irfan also had his central contract suspended for six months, while the terms of his punishment stipulated him to provide substantial assistance to the PCB and participate in Anti-Corruption Education programmes.

He was, however, told that he could get his playing-ban shortened to six months if he adheres to the suspension’s guidelines, which he has successfully managed, making him free to resume his career.

Looking back, the fast bowler feels the past six months were the toughest of his life and that he is desperate to start playing cricket again.

“As a cricketer, knowing that you cannot play cricket hurts badly,” Irfan told The Express Tribune. “When a player is banned from doing something he has done all his life, it really hurts.

Irfan, to his credit, owns up to his mistake of not keeping the PCB abreast of the bookies advances.

“I have realised how important it is to inform the PCB officials about anyone contacting for spot-fixing,” he said. “I am glad that I was surrounded by such good family and friends who supported me well in these trying times.”

The sting of the whole episode has been so sharp that Irfan suggests others to even report fixing jokes or lighthearted comments to anti-corruption officials at their earliest.

“I was late to inform them and faced all this,” he said. “If I had informed them earlier this would never have happened. However, I am still thankful to the PCB for supporting me.”

About the official announcement of his ban’s expiration, he added: “As every official of the PCB is currently busy with the World XI series, the official announcement could take some time.”

Irfan would want the announcement to come before September 25, which is when the Quaid-e-Azam trophy starts, with him planning to play for WAPDA.

“Once the announcement is made, only then I will be able to practice with the WAPDA team for QAT and work towards my comeback to the national team,” he said.

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