Former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq Friday lashed out at Pakistan for making a U-turn on selecting cricketers from an unrecognised Indian league and succumbing to “pressure.”
Pakistan selectors Monday named three rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) players — Abdul Razzaq, Rana Naved-ul Hasan and Imran Nazir — in a preliminary 30-man squad for the Twenty20 World Cup in England in June.
The selectors said the trio were included subject to clearance from the International Cricket Council (ICC).
But the next day, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) dropped the trio, saying they were not included in the 30-man list sent to the ICC.
The PCB has sought clarification from the ICL on the status of Pakistani players’ contracts before taking a final decision on their inclusion.
Inzamam criticised the sudden about-turn.
“I think the PCB succumbed to the pressure from the ICC. If there were rules barring the PCB not to include the ICL players then why didn’t our board know these rules,” Inzamam told AFP.
The ICL — bankrolled in 2007 by India’s largest media Group, Zee television — was not recognised by Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the ICC and players taking part in it were barred by member countries.
The high court in Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh, however, cleared all Pakistani players in the rebel league last February, paving the way for their return to domestic cricket and into contention for the national side.
Inzamam said ICL players would strengthen the national side.
“Why is Pakistan taking pressure from the ICC and the BCCI? If they include ICL players then our team will become very strong and will perform better.
“Look at India. Pakistan and India were standing at the same place in 2007 after we both were knocked out of the World Cup (in West Indies) in the first round but with ICL and IPL (Indian Premier League) they have gained a lot.”
Inzamam accused the ICC of fearing private leagues because of the threat to sponsorships.
“I see only one reason for the ICC’s opposition to the ICL and that is they have to share finances as private leagues also take away sponsorhips, which is a danger for them,” said Inzamam.
Inzamam, who retired from international cricket in 2007, lamanted the ban.
“Why are we keeping ICL players away from international cricket? It’s unjust and I hope the PCB reviews its decision. We must fight for the cause beneficial for us,” said Inzamam.
The ICC said it would discuss the ICL issue at its executive board meeting in Dubai on April 17 and 18.
Just disassociating themselves from the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) won’t fetch the ICL-bound Pakistani players a berth in the national team as they risk the prospect of facing penalties once again before being cleared for national duty.
A senior official of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said although some of the ICL players had informed the PCB that they were ready to end their association with the ICL to play for Pakistan again, the matter was now under the consideration of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
“We have written to the ICC for legal and other advise because the ICL was an unauthorised tournament and under existing regulations there are penalties for taking part in an unauthorised event although one might have decided to leave it,” PCB chief operating officer (COO) Saleem Altaf said on Tuesday.
He pointed out that in the past also there were examples in other countries of players being penalised for taking part in unauthorised events.
“They are lot of legal ramifications involved and we see it as a subjudice matter. So we don’t want to make anymore comments but wait and see what advise we get,” Altaf said.
The PCB COO confirmed that senior batsman, Mohammad Yousuf and some other players have expressed their desire to play for the national team again.
The ICL was passing through some tough times due to the global economic slump down. The organisers are yet to announce the schedule of this season’s tournament, and said they are ready to release their existing contracted players to make them available for national selection.
The monetary situation of the rebel league is so grim that the players have alleged that they have not received their payments for the last seven months.
The PCB had banned the players who joined the ICL from playing domestic as well as international cricket as the league was not given official recognition by the ICC or its member boards.
But in February the Sindh High Court had allowed the players to take part in domestic cricket after they appealed against the ban.
Altaf, however, said the PCB had to look at many aspects of the issue, but obviously it wanted its best players to be available for the country.
“How this will happen or what method has to be adopted we haven’t decided yet,” he said.
He also pointed out that until now the ICL had not made it clear whether they were going to release the Pakistani players without any legal hitches.