In a surprising turn of events, left-arm spinner Asif Afridi has made a triumphant return to the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in Pakistan, despite the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announcing a two-year ban for him earlier this year. This suspension, which was supposed to be a punishment for anti-corruption code violations dating back to September 12, 2022, allowed him to step back onto the cricket field just a couple of days over one year into his boycott.
The shocking part is that Afridi’s return does not actually breach the terms of his ban. The PCB made a critical error when initially announcing his ban for corruption-related offenses. A document obtained by ESPNcricinfo revealed that the order stated that “a two-year period of ineligibility” should be imposed upon him, “half of which will be suspended.”
However, when the PCB published the sanction on their official website and social media, they omitted any mention of a suspended sentence, stating simply that he had been banned from all forms of cricket for two years. The statement even included a quote from the then-PCB chairman Najam Sethi, expressing reluctance in suspending an international cricketer for two years.
The PCB admitted to ESPNcricinfo that the official announcement of Afridi’s ban earlier this year contained this significant error. Remarkably, this error was never officially corrected or publicly acknowledged, and there was no announcement from the board when Afridi made his comeback last month.
Afridi’s ban stemmed from two violations of the PCB’s anti-corruption code, with the more severe one being a breach of Article 2.4.10, which involves actions like “directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, persuading, encouraging, or intentionally facilitating any participant to breach any of the foregoing provisions of this Article 2.4.” The exact nature of this offense remains undisclosed.
Since his return, Afridi, now 36, had a lukewarm start to the tournament for FATA, managing to secure just two wickets in his first three matches. However, in his most recent game, he staged a remarkable comeback, taking seven wickets across two innings against Faisalabad. The cricketing world now watches with bated breath to see how this unexpected turn of events will unfold.