A Pakistan court today overturned a life ban against the country's former cricket captain Salim Malik for alleged involvement in match fixing. Malik was banned following a lengthy inquiry in 2001 formed after three top Australian players accused him of offering bribes for them to underperform. Malik appealed against the ruling to Pakistan's top court which earlier this year ordered Lahore's Civil Court to hear the case.
Judge Malik Mohammad Altaf ruled in favour of Malik today 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," he said. "I have served cricket for 19 years and today (Thursday) I feel vindicated. Now I can live a peaceful life and can coach which I badly wanted." Malik's lawyer said the court ruled that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) 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," Malik's lawyer Shahid Salim said. The ban had also prevented Malik from holding any office or having involvement in any cricket-related activity. He was banned after the 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 the 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 the 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 investigation 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.
The PCB's legal adviser Tafazzul Rizvi said it would honour today's ruling. "(The) PCB did not impose the ban, we just implemented the recommendations of the inquiry tribunal," Rizvi told reporters in Lahore. "We will honour 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.