Pakistan Cricket Board’s Chief Executive Wasim Khan averted a major cricketing crisis after managing to allay concerns of the players with regards to NOC issuance for the T10 and Caribbean Premier League. It is believed that Imad Wasim, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Amir and others were on the verge of going on strike after the withdrawal of NOCs for the upcoming T10 league. After having met with the players, Wasim Khan prevented immediate action, however how things pan out in the future remains to be seen.
PCB, especially in recent times, has restricted player participation in foreign leagues which has led to major financial loss to the players. The withdrawal of NOCs for the T10 league was the breaking point in what has been a series of incidents which have made the players feel angry and frustrated. The overall NOC policy as outlined by the previous board allowed players to take part in one foreign league aside of the Pakistan Super League. Players feel that the policy is having an impact on their finances and even when they are allowed, the communication process makes things complicated.
According to ESPNCricinfo after the National T20 Cup Final, it is rumoured that as many as 12 players met or communicated with Wasim Khan their concerns. Imad Wasim played a leading role.
Pakistani players are not part of the lucrative Indian Premier League due to the Indian government’s policy and their central contracts are amongst the lowest in international cricket. To make matters worse, the recent changes to the domestic circuit has further lowered their earnings per year.
The meeting, however, is said to be quite constructive and a review of the board’s NOC policy has been promised. The aim is to find a balance where players can take part in the domestic tournament, management of their workload and players’ finances not taking a hit.
PCB however, emphasized that their stance with regards to the T10 league will not change. 15 Pakistani players were picked in the league, however, now only Shahid Afridi and Imran Nazir are likely to take part in the league. It is said that PCB Patron Imran Khan had instructed Ehsan Mani to revoke all NOCs issued to Pakistani players as the league owners were India. Participation would be in contradiction to the government’s foreign policy. However, the players were allowed to take part in the 2019 Global T20 Canada and were also part of the Euro T20 league draw, both owned by an Indian company.
CPL and T10 league are two important tournaments for Pakistan cricketers as they are barred from the IPL and BPL & BBL, often clashes with Pakistan’s international season. Nine players were selected by CPL teams but only three played five or more matches due to varying NOC related issues. Moreover, players were given conditional NOCs for T10 league earlier but they stand revoked now. This was reflective of the problems in communication between the players and department handling international cricket department, which is headed by Zakir Khan, a close confidant of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
First time in around 40 years, players have threatened collective actions. In 1976, a number of players ironically including Imran Khan refused to for Pakistan until their salaries were increased.
It was suggested that Imran Ahmed Khan the PSL player acquisition head and a PCB employee, could play the role of mediator between players and the board. However, this would cause another conflict of interest issue.
The leading players are now getting ready to play T20I series in Australia but expect the story to rumble on in the coming weeks.