Islamabad: Former captain Imran Khan called Thursday on the new Pakistani government to disband the country's cricket board after it banned fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar for five years.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Tuesday banned Akhtar for repeatedly breaching the players code of conduct, culminating in a public outburst in January against the board for not giving him a central contract.
"The tragic incident of banning Akhtar reflects how undemocratically cricket is run in this country and I think this is an ideal time for the new government to fix it," Khan told AFP.
The PCB's patron is Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who is also responsible for selecting the chief of the board, currently Nasim Ashraf.
"Musharraf has made Pakistan a banana republic and his appointed chairman of the PCB has made the cricket board a sort of banana republic," said Khan, who led Pakistan to their only World Cup title in 1992.
"Pakistan cricket is unique in the sense that the President of Pakistan appoints the cricket chief. Since there is legitimacy in other countries they don't have such problems," he added.
"The cricket chief is involved in everything from selection to touring, but since he has no legitimacy he cannot solve problems. So I demand the new government install a democratically-elected cricket chief as soon as possible".
Akhtar was hauled up before a PCB disciplinary committee for criticising its policies following his removal from a list of 15 players awarded central contracts in January this year, the latest in a string of discipline problems.
In deciding on the punishment, the board cited the fact that Akhtar was on two years' probation following an earlier ban for hitting teammate Mohammad Asif with a bat in October.
Khan said the ban was unjust.
"Tell me how many players in world cricket have been banned for five years on discipline charges," Khan said. "Previous incidents of indiscipline should have been dealt with at the time instead of being allowed to accumulate."
Khan said Akhtar has a lot to offer to Pakistan cricket.
"A fit Akhtar is still head and shoulders above other Pakistani bowlers and he still has a lot of cricket left in him if he keeps himself fit," said Khan, who now heads his political party, Tehrik-e-Insaaf (Movement for Justice).