The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has rubbished claims that it made maverick fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar a scapegoat for the recent series loss to India by dropping him from the ODI squad to play against Zimbabwe.
Akhtar was left out of the one-day series against visiting Zimbabwe starting tomorrow and also faces the prospect of losing his central contract worth rupees three million a year.
The controversial pacer has been told to play in domestic cricket and prove his match fitness before he can be considered for national selection, a move that has led to former captain Imran Khan claiming that the PCB has made a scapegoat out of Akhtar for the Indian defeat.
PCB Chief Operating Officer Shafqat Naghmi told PTI that there was nothing personal in the decision to leave Akhtar out of the ODI squad as the policy of not selecting unfit players applies to all.
"The position now is that unless he proves his match fitness he can not be considered for national selection and this policy applies to other players as well," Naghmi said.
"Even Umar Gul was not picked for the Zimbabwe series for the same reason. When Mohammad Asif recovers from his elbow operation, he has to first play some domestic matches and prove his fitness to the selectors before he can be considered for national duty," he added.
The PCB has not hidden its frustration at the antics of the fast bowler since the Indian tour and is especially upset with his interest in the Indian film industry while the series was on.
Naghmi said Akhtar could have played in some domestic cricket after returning from India.
"Ever since the Indian series concluded he has not contacted us at all. We don't even know if he has returned from India," he said.
"In India, he struggled to bowl four to five-over spells and he had some fitness issues as well. He should have contacted us and started working on his match fitness ahead of the coming series. We don't know anything about his fitness as yet."