Pakistan not ruled out of Champions League
The possibility of a Pakistan domestic side participating in the Champions League Twenty20 this year - though bleak - has not been entirely written off yet, either by the league or the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
Pakistan did not have a representative in the inaugural tournament last year, the only Test-playing nation other than Bangladesh to not have a representative in the 12-team league. Sialkot Staliions - then Pakistan's domestic Twenty20 champions - had been invited to participate in the very first Champions League, but that was postponed because of the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008.
Since then, as ties between the governments and cricket boards of India and Pakistan have become frostier not only have the two countries not had a bilateral series, Pakistan's players have not participated in the IPL and not been invited to the Champions League.
Relations have worsened further following the decision of the IPL franchises this year to not pick any Pakistani players, despite Pakistan being the World Twenty20 champions and having as many as 12 players up for auction. The PCB eventually decided to revoke all NOCs it had given to players hoping to participate in the IPL, but the door may remain open for participation in this year's Champions League, which is a multi-board venture and may not be played in India.
Discussion on a Pakistan representative was expected to take place in the last meeting of the league's governing council between officials from the Indian board, Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa. But a senior league official said the number of teams in this year's tournament - to be held in September - has not been finalised.
"No final decision on participating countries/teams has been made for this year's event," Dean Kino, the league's director of business and legal affairs and key member of the core management, told Cricinfo when asked specifically about the possibility of a Pakistan side being invited.
No contact has yet been made with the PCB and though the IPL remains off-limits, the Champions League is a possibility. "Nothing has been discussed with us by any of the boards involved in the tournament as yet," Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, told Cricinfo. "The IPL remains persona non grata for us, but if there is some contact about the Champions League we will consider the situation, where it is played and when. We would be amenable to sending a team should we get an invite and the situation is feasible."
Pakistan's domestic Twenty20 tournament has not yet been held this season; it is scheduled to be played between late February and early March. Pakistan's ODI series with England in September also clashes with the dates of the Champions League, which makes it unlikely that any domestic champion will be able to call on its best players should there even be an invite.
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo