Five-year ban on Shoaib Akhtar is major blow: Zaheer Abbas

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Pune, Apr 3 (UNI) Former Pakistan skipper Zaheer Abbas, while ruing that the retirement of Inzamam-Ul-Haq had left a deep void in Pakistan cricket, said his country should restructure its domestic cricket and groom young talent in order to regain lost glory.

Pakistan cricket has been afflicted with turmoils after Shoaib Malik took over the reins and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) slapping a five-year ban on temperamental speedster Shoaib Akhtar has been a major blow, Zaheer Abbas said while speaking to reporters here.

He was here to attend the marriage function of hotelier and National Congress Party (NCP) secretary Krishnakant Kudale's daughter.

While lamenting the five-year ban slapped by the PCB on Shoaib, Zaheer said it would have been proper if a monetary penalty had been imposed on the bowler instead.

''Shoaib has to be treated with consideration, keeping in mind the psychology of fast bowlers,'' Zaheer remarked.

The bespectacled batting machine as he was known in his cricketing days, Zaheer opined that domestic cricket in Pakistan should be restructured as has been done in India, especially for Under-16, 19 and 22 categories.

To a question, Zaheer said that time has come for former cricketers like Imran Khan, Javed Miandad and he himself to make concerted efforts to take over the helm of affairs of the PCB.

Zaheer recalled with relish the elegant ton that he had scored in the tour opener while leading Pakistan against India in mid 80s at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here.

To a question on the recent trend of franchising of players, Zaheer said it has brought a lot of money for the players. ''I am not against the players making money. They certainly deserve it.'' The rebel ICL and now the IPL being hosted by the BCCI, will do a lot of good for the young players and also some of the veterans who recently retired from active game, the former Pakistan skipper said.

Zaheer welcomed the steps taken by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to abolish ''Sledging'' in the game. He also lauded India's young crop of talented players.

On the Twenty20 format, Zaheer said it has been successful since people enjoy the game with their families and the Twenty20 format offers them entertainment over a short period of time and, so, it is preferred over five-day tests and even ODIs. Recalling the ''Kerry Packer'' days which had revolutionized the game with robust sponsorships, Zaheer said the same is true of Twenty20.

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