Temperamental fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar may find himself in a catch-22 situation when he contemplates the pros and cons of taking the legal course to challenge the five-year ban imposed on him by the Pakistan Cricket Board, sources say.
The perennial bad boy of Pakistan cricket will announce today whether he plans to appeal against the ban for violating a two-year probation period and other misconducts, but sources close to the Board have told PTI that the fast bowler will have to think hard about going to court as it might cost him his lucrative Indian Premier League contract.
"Apparently the Board has conveyed to him that if he goes to court than he might have to miss out on the lucrative Indian Premier League," one source said.
The Board has banned Shoaib from playing for Pakistan or in Pakistan but has allowed him to appear in the IPL from April 18 and also play elsewhere in foreign leagues or counties.
The source said the Board had basically told Shoaib that his Pakistan career was over but they would not stop him from earning money from the IPL or other foreign leagues as long as he accepts the five-year ban decision and foregoes the right to appeal against it.
Shoaib had also not appealed last year when the Board imposed a 13-matches ban on him and fined him 3.4 million rupees for striking teammate Mohammad Asif with a bat in South Africa before the World Twenty20 Championships.
The fast bowler was sent home on disciplinary grounds and then banned.
"The understanding is clear. Forget about playing for Pakistan and the Board will not object to his IPL contract. But if he decides to appeal and resorts to legal means than the Board can describe the issue as subjudice and stop him from playing in the IPL," the source said.
The source pointed out that in such a case another option available to Shoaib was to forego his IPL contract and seek playing terms with the rebel Indian Cricket League.
"But he has also been conveyed even if he wins the case against the Board and gets the ban overturned there is no guarantee he will play for Pakistan again," the source added.
There have been rumors that Shoaib during a recent visit was not only in touch with Lalit Modi the IPL supremo but also top officials of the ICL.
Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan has said the decision by the PCB will not stand up in any court if Shoaib decides to take legal course. Imran said the ban was so harsh that it seemed as if Shoaib had committed a murder.
Sources said Shoaib was also trying to use his contacts in the new government to get things done his way but so far has met with little success.
A newly elected member of Parliament Hanif Abbasi did warn that the people who had banned Shoaib themselves would be removed very soon and former Test pacer Sarfraz Nawaz also called for the new government to sack PCB Chairman Nasim Ashraf and Co but sources say so far the Shoaib might have to fight a lone battle against the ban.
His supporters say, Shoaib has a strong case against the ban as he is not a centrally contracted player with the Board but his detractors point out the PCB has imposed the ban on him because of the two-year probation period he was already serving when he was contracted with the PCB.