Four days before the third Test against India, the Indian Cricket League (ICL) confirmed that some of its New Zealand recruits would forego their contracts making them eligible for a return to mainstream cricket. Some Pakistani players too are giving up the rebel league for the same reason.
Due to the time difference between India and New Zealand, no one from New Zealand Cricket could be contacted but ICL sources hinted at the possibility of some Kiwi players being fast-tracked into returning to the national team. Among New Zealand’s ICL players are Shane Bond and Daryl Tuffey.
“We are proud to give these players an opportunity to play for the their countries,” said Kapil Dev, ICL director. “Unlike some other boards, we are against the idea of denying players the chance to represent their country,” he said, in obvious reference to the BCCI, which is vehemently against the ‘rebel’ league.
Without talking about the possibility of Bond or Tuffey playing for New Zealand immediately, ICL official Roland Landers confirmed that some players have forgone their contracts.
“If players want to take this route to play for their countries, we will not restrict them. We have never restricted them from playing anywhere anyway.”
Landers said that barring “some players” from New Zealand and Pakistan, players from no other country have opted out of their ICL contracts and that the next edition of the T20 meet will be held in October. The one slated for March was cancelled due to the economic meltdown.
On Monday, a PTI report from Karachi quoted Abdul Razzaq as saying that the ICL has terminated contracts of all Pakistani players and would issue ‘no objection certificates’ (NoC) this week to enable them to play elsewhere, including the national team.
Merely ending his contract with the rebel Indian Cricket League will not be enough for Mohd Yousuf to return to the Pakistan team as the PCB has made it clear that the senior batsman will have to give certain “guarantees” before becoming eligible for national selection.
The conditions include that Yousuf terminate his ICL contract, give in writing he will not align with any other body without the permission of the board and will not demand any compensation in return for ending his ties with the ICL.
Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ejaz Butt discussed these conditions with Yousuf in a meeting at the Gaddafi stadium on Friday after the batsman said he was willing to end his contract with the ICL if considered for national selection.
Butt made it clear that while he was also keen to see the senior player back in the team but certain issues had to be sorted out.
“It is not a simple matter and we are looking into it. But I have told Yousuf that he has to meet certain conditions and give guarantees first to be considered for national selection,” he said.
Yousuf has been banned since last year from playing for Pakistan after he joined the ICL, which is not recognised by the International Cricket Council or its member boards.
The Sindh High Court last month allowed Yousuf and other ICL players to play domestic cricket but the ban on them representing the country remains in place.
The ICL had filed a case against Yousuf after he walked out of a contract with them in 2007 before finally joining them again last year claiming he was frustrated at being mistreated by former captain Shoaib Malik and the PCB.
After meeting Butt, Yousuf told reporters that he wants the PCB to include his name in the list of probables for the forthcoming one-day series against Australia and also for the Twenty20 World Cup in England.
“I have discussed my future with other senior players and then decided to be available for Pakistan again. I am keen to play for my country and now the rest is up to the board,” he said.
However, Butt made it clear that Yousuf will have to pass a fitness test like all other players and be cleared by the selectors to play for Pakistan once again.
Yousuf, who has played 79 Tests and 269 one-dayers, is considered one of Pakistan’s top players and is said to have been convinced to leave the ICL by captain Younis Khan.
Indications are that the PCB will first get approval from the ICC before allowing Yousuf back into the team. The move could pave the way for other ICL-aligned cricketers to play for the national team once again.