The Anti-Corruption Unit appointed by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has banned Sharjeel for five years over spot-fixing in this year’s second season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
Furthermore, Sharjeel has been barred from all forms of cricket for a year and a half, completing which and after adhering to the PCB’s terms and conditions, he could play domestic cricket.
This the latest and the most high-profile of verdicts in the PSL sport-fixing scandal since a tribunal had been formed to probe allegations against Sharjeel, Khalid Latif, Nasir Jamshed, Shahzaib Hasan and Mohammed Irfan.
The latter has been banned for a year early, while the other three cases are still ongoing.
Sharjeel Khan, arguably, was the biggest name in the case. He had stood out as Pakistan’s only hard-hitting batsman and individually succeeded on tours as challenging as England and Australia, after having made a mark for title winning Islamabad United in the first season of PSL last year.
And so the career that looked like taking off to incredible highs in the PSL, looks like having bit the dust in the same tournament.
Of course others have recovered from spot-fixing bans. Mohammed Amir being the prime example, with his headline performance in the ICC Champions Trophy final – the second greatest moment for Pakistan in ODI cricket.
Even Salman Butt has been under consideration following his return and might even be summoned to the national Test side, should things not work out under the new regime.
While Amir had age on his side, even Butt was younger (25) than Sharjeel is right now (28) during the spot-fixing scandal of 2010. And it would take a comeback of epic proportions, coupled with Pakistan struggling to find an opener for five years – a perpetual quest which seems to have been halted by the stunning rise of Fakhar Zaman – for Sharjeel to be anywhere near the international side again.
While the decision comes when Pakistan have won the Champions Trophy, playing what was every bit as modern cricket as other top sides – something the team had lacked this decade – the spot-fixing scandal had originally surfaced when the national side was struggling.
The main reason behind those struggles was the inability to score runs quickly and keep pace with the rest of the world.
Sharjeel Khan, with his explosive batting upfront, was evidently the only Pakistani batsman capable of deploying the modern game.
Even if that had remained true and Pakistan hadn’t won the Champions Trophy, a harsh verdict –orchestrated by the PCB and not a foreign body – was exactly what Pakistan cricket needed, regardless of how important the player might be for the team.
It is owing to overlooking such corruption cases in the past – because the accused were some of the biggest names in world cricket, and the judges confessed to being their fans – that the fixing disease isn’t going away with ease.
One would’ve thought that someone who has played with Amir would know better than indulging in a crime that forced his colleague out of cricket for six years.
Credit here must be given to the PCB for their firm stance, and taking swift action during the tournament which meant that the action was taken at home.
The ban sets the record straight, and would further boost Pakistan cricket’s anti-corruption fight.