PCB restricts player interviews

KARACHI: Pakistan's cricketers have been banned from giving media interviews without official permission, an official said Thursday following controversial remarks by paceman Shoaib Akhtar.

"We have sent reminders to all the players who are under central contract to follow obligations and not give interviews without prior permission from us," Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) director of operations Zakir Khan told AFP.

The PCB was upset with recent interviews by both recalled opener Imran Nazir and Akhtar. But while Nazir was cleared in a board hearing, the troubled fast bowler's remarks still reverberate through Pakistani cricket.

The 33-year-old Akhtar, who is suffering from "genital warts", was withdrawn from the Pakistan team that won the World Twenty20 in England last month.

Akhtar then told a television channel that he considered suing team managers for releasing a private medical report.

Last year, Akhtar was banned for five years after he publicly criticised the PCB for dropping his central contract.

A PCB appeal committee reduced the ban to 18 months but levied a fine of seven million rupees (95,000 dollars) in July last year.

A further Akhtar appeal suspended the ban but upheld the fine, and the PCB awarded him a central contract earlier this year.

Akhtar, however, has failed to keep his place in the team because of injury and lack of form. He was dropped from the ongoing five one-day internationals in Sri Lanka after he failed a fitness test last week.

The bowler was also not included in the preliminary squad for the Champions Trophy to be held in South Africa in September and October.