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July 29, 2007
Inzamam-ul-Haq, the former Pakistan captain, is the latest international star to have been approached by the Indian Cricket League (ICL).
Inzamam, who announced his retirement from one-day cricket after Pakistan's failed World Cup campaign, confirmed that ICL officials had contacted him. "They have been in touch with me and I am considering their offer," Inzamam told Cricinfo. "If the terms are right, I will play."
The parallel league has stirred the cricket world, evoking visions of a Kerry Packer-style circuit. The players it has targeted so far, however, are those who have retired from international cricket in one form or another. Brian Lara has already signed on, while Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Stephen Fleming have also expressed an interest.
The PCB announced recently that centrally contracted players would be unable to join the league but kept the door open for ex-internationals or players not contracted.
Nasim Ashraf, PCB chairman, told AFP that any player joining the league would be ruled out of future internationals. "Our position on the breakaway Indian league is clear and firm. Since it [league] is not approved by the ICC any player joining it will not be considered for future selection. No current player will be allowed to sign the league and all cricket boards of the world have this same stance."
Inzamam said he believed the league would ultimately benefit Indian cricket itself. "What harm is there if it means that more people will watch cricket, come to the grounds and watch stars in action? It furthers the profile of cricket."
Inzamam did acknowledge that ultimately the choice will come down to financial benefits to the player. "Players who are out of favour, or not international cricketers, or who are nearing the end of their careers will rightly see this as an opportunity to benefit financially and I don't see anything wrong with that.
"For younger players too, there are rewards. Playing alongside players such as Lara or McGrath can only be a good thing for your development as a young player."
Inzamam's own international future is currently uncertain. Though he has left one-day cricket, he wants to carry on playing Test cricket "for as long as I feel I am performing." Noises coming from the board in recent months suggest Inzamam may not be a part of Pakistan's next Test squad against South Africa but the selectors have publicly said he will be called to the probables camp for the series in September and October.
Inzamam is currently Pakistan's second-highest run-scorer in Tests, just 19 runs behind Javed Miandad and he plans to fight for his place. "I want to pass 10,000 Test runs and I believe I am capable of doing that, given the opportunity."
He has limited opportunities to prove his form and fitness to selectors, however. Pakistan's domestic season is not due to start till December. Reports linked him to some county sides earlier in the season but those plans have fallen through. Until the season starts, Inzamam will play club cricket for Lahore Gymkhana.
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