'We have to protect Pakistan cricket' - PCB chairman January 25, 2008

Pakistan reaffirms ban on ICL players

Cricinfo staff

Shabbir Ahmed is one of the players banned by the PCB for participating in the ICL © Cricinfo Ltd

Players who took part in the unofficial Indian Cricket League (ICL) will not be allowed to represent Pakistan internationally or play domestically, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced.

Though the players - including Taufeeq Umar, Imran Farhat and Shabbir Ahmed - were banned when they signed up with the ICL last year, the board's governing committee was reconsidering their cases. But it has now reaffirmed its earlier stance, though Nasim Ashraf, PCB chairman, kept the door open for a possible return.

"These players will not represent Pakistan internationally or in domestic cricket," Ashraf said. "We have to protect Pakistan cricket. There are reports that recruiting agents from ICL are looking for more players, possibly a team from Pakistan, and that will harm cricket here."

Ashraf reasoned that opportunities - and financial rewards - were growing for players in Pakistan and so there was little need for anyone to join the ICL. "We have given all players in 13 regional teams a monthly contract, to take away financial worries. We are giving young players retainers, others on the fringes are also making money.

"We are doing everything we can to make sure that all players benefit more and more financially within the country. Players can earn good money here so they have to decide: do they want the ICL or Pakistan?"

The players had initially filed a petition in the Lahore High Court against the decision to ban them, though the case was swiftly dismissed. There remains a possibility that legal action will be considered once again though Ashraf hinted a way out of the situation.

"If the players do not play in the ICL any more and make that clear, then certainly they can appeal against the decision and we will consider it again."

The board, meanwhile, postponed a decision on whether or not players will be allowed to take up contracts in county cricket. Concern had been expressed recently about the effect county cricket was having on several Pakistan bowlers, some of whom picked up injuries during their stint and missed international duty as a result.

"We discussed the pros and cons of county cricket," said Ashraf. "They pick up good experience, but can also burn out, or pick up injuries like Mohammad Asif did. But we will take a final decision after our next meeting in March.

"The committee wants to first see a detailed presentation on the effects of the county season on a player, including financial issues such as how much a player loses out on if he doesn't play and whether there should be compensation."