Shoaib gets PCB's nod to play for Surrey

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Lahore, Sep 2 (UNI) The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has altered its policy of not allowing players to be a part of English county circuit and has cleared the way for Shoaib Akhtar to join Surrey.

Shoaib, who has not played cricket for quite some time, is hoping to gain some fitness and stake his claim into the nationl side.

''Shoaib has not played competitive cricket for months and he needs to regain match fitness,'' the PCB's chief operating officer, Shafqat Naghmi, said.

''We believe a short county stint might help him in doing that. He requested a No Objection Certificate, which we have issued to him, and we have no problems if he wants to play county cricket,'' he added.

The beleaguered fast bowler was recently recalled to the national team for the limited overs Champions Trophy which was postponed because of rising security concerns among the participating teams.

The pacer is hopeful that his stint with Surrey might help him to press for his selection into the Test side as well.

Not long ago, the PCB refused its players including Umar Gul and Ifthikar Rao to play for county clubs.

''We had stopped our fast bowlers from playing for counties because such stints had affected their form and fitness,'' said Naghmi.

''Mohammad Asif and Rana Naved-ul-Hassan both suffered major injuries while playing county cricket. But Shoaib's case is different. He hasn't played much cricket this year and a county stint could actually benefit him,'' Naghmi said.

The fast bowler could be available for Surrey as early as next week as the county, adrift at the bottom of Division One by 18 points with three matches to go, play a key game against Kent at Canterbury.

However, Shoaib's debut could be marred by the league rules requiring overseas players to spend at least three weeks in England before playing.

Shoaib, who has played 46 Tests for Pakistan, has been among the most controversial players of the game and was banned by the PCB, which claimed he had tested positive for the steroid nandrolene. However, the ban was later overturned by an appeals tribunal.

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