County news January 31, 2013

Ajmal Shahzad interested in Pakistan Super League

Ajmal Shahzad, who only two years ago was regarded as a integral part of England's fast-bowling future, is the most notable English county player seriously considering whether to sign up for the planned Pakistan Super League.

Pakistan are so anxious to attract overseas players that they have offered life insurance of $2 million (£1.25m) as well as 24-hour personal security for a tournament which would offer competitive cricket immediately ahead of the English county season.

That has been enough for Shahzad to toy with the possibility of making himself available, along with three other county players with Pakistani antecedents: Lancashire's Kabir Ali, Mooen Ali of Worcestershire and Kadeer Ali, who is currently a free agent since being released by Gloucestershire in 2010.

That they would eventually accept offers, though, is far from certain. Players' associations including the international body, FICA, and their England equivalent, the PCA, have warned players that they should not visit Pakistan on security grounds and there is a general acceptance that overseas players will be immensely difficult to attract.

But players with a Pakistan background, and of Muslim religion, are naturally more willing to consider any offers than most, privately feeling that their safety, although impossible to guarantee, might be less compromised.

Shahzad, who is forging a new career with Nottinghamshire after sharing a troubled 2012 season between Yorkshire and Lancashire, said: "It's still early doors but if the PSL is set up professionally and becomes official and the security is top notch then I would think about it. My first commitment is to Notts but the fixtures don't clash with the English season."

Nottinghamshire have taken a firm line against the involvement of their players in the IPL because it clashes with the England season, but their director of cricket, Mick Newell, emphasised that there would be no automatic objection to any overseas T20 tournament which took place in England's close season.

He counselled: "We would advise players to have full discussions with the PCA before making a decision about any overseas T20 tournament so they were fully aware of any issues, but we would not automatically block an NOC if it was requested."

Lancashire are confident that they have dissuaded Kabir from making the trip. "We haven't granted an NOC for any of our players to go forward to the PSL auction," a Lancashire statement said, giving the impression that the subject was closed.

Kabir, though, had been among the keenest to make the trip, despite an unnerving experience with terrorist violence, this time in India, more than four years ago. When attacks on Mumbai forced the suspension of India's tour of India, In November 2008, Kabir was due to have dinner at the Taj Palace, where England were also shortly due to stay, on the night of the attacks. He changed his mind at the last minute and went to the cinema and the shootings began shortly afterwards.

Worcestershire's director of cricket, Steve Rhodes, said that Mooen Ali has also not yet applied for an NOC certificate. Such applications would be premature, however, as details of the PSL have not been finalised. Mooen is believed to have more reservations about the tournament than many others under consideration.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo