DateLine: 24th October 2008
A Pakistan court Thursday overturned a life ban against former cricket captain Salim Malik for alleged involvement in match fixing.
Malik was banned following a lengthy inquiry in 2001 into allegations by three top Australian players that he offered them bribes to underperform in a Test against Pakistan.
Malik appealed against the punishment to Pakistan's top court which earlier this year ordered Lahore's Civil Court to hear the case.
Judge Malik Mohammad Altaf ruled in favor of the 45-year-old Malik on Thursday and ordered the ban be lifted.
Malik hailed the verdict as a vindication, and said he could now return to cricket, this time as a coach.
"I am relieved after the court verdict," Malik told AFP.
"I have served cricket for 19 years and today I feel vindicated. Now I can live a peaceful life and can do coaching which I badly wanted."
"I hope that talk of fixing never haunts cricket. Cricket is a pure game and is played by some nice and passionate players," he added.
Malik's lawyer said the court ruled that the Pakistan Cricket Board wrongly imposed the ban after acting on recommendations from the inquiry which was headed by a High Court judge.
"The PCB did not have the jurisdiction to ban Salim Malik so the court lifted the ban on our appeal," lawyer Shahid Salim said.
The ban had also prevented Malik from holding any office or having involvement in any cricket-related activity.
Malik was banned after Australian players Shane Warne, Mark Waugh and Tim May claimed he offered them bribes to underperform during Australia's tour of Pakistan in 1994.
Warne and May alleged Malik telephoned them in their rooms and offered them big money to underbowl during the first Test in Karachi which Pakistan eventually won by just one wicket.
A one-man commission cleared Malik in 1995 of the allegations citing a lack of evidence after the Australian players refused to return to Pakistan to testify. But High Court Justice Malik Mohammad Qayyum's inquiry team later recorded their statements in Australia.
Malik's name also featured in an Indian match-fixing inquiry, which led to a life ban for former captain Mohammad Azharuddin in 2000 -- a ban which was later lifted in 2006.
The late South African captain Hansie Cronje, also banned for life on match-fixing, named Malik as an offender in a separate probe in South Africa.
Two lower courts earlier refused to hear Malik's appeal, but a three-judge panel of the Supreme Court in May this year directed the Civil Court to record evidence and reach a verdict.
PCB legal adviser Tafazzul Rizvi said it would honor Thursday's ruling.
"PCB did not impose the ban, we just implemented the recommendations of the inquiry tribunal," Rizvi told reporters in Lahore. "We will honor the decision of the session court and will not file an appeal against the ruling."
Malik played 103 Tests and 263 one-day internationals for Pakistan between 1981 to 1999. He also led his country in 12 Tests and 34 one-day internationals.
The original inquiry also recommended a life ban for paceman Ataur Rehman on charges of perjury, but the penalty was lifted in 2003.
Six other players -- Wasim Akram, Inzamam-ul Haq, Mushtaq Ahmed, Saeed Anwar, Waqar Younis and Akram Raza -- were fined over the affair.
(Article: Copyright © 2008 AFP)