ICL and Pakistan cricket July 16, 2008

Razzaq confident ICL bans will be reversed

Cricinfo staff

Razzaq: 'You can't challenge the government or government bodies like the PCB. The courts belong to the government and so does the PCB, why would one overrule the other?' © AFP

Abdul Razzaq, the former Pakistan allrounder, has said he has no regrets over joining the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL) and risking his future with Pakistan. In an interview to pakpassion.net, Razzaq said he was optimistic the Pakistan Cricket Board would eventually lift the ban on ICL players, much like their English counterparts have softened their stance on its ICL players.

Razzaq, 28, announced his retirement from international cricket last year after being omitted from selection for the ICC World Twenty20 in September. He said the ICL was the only available option for him and that the Indian Premier League wouldn't have been an option in the first place because of his status as a non-contracted player.

"By my making an announcement saying that I've retired, it doesn't mean that it's a permanent thing," Razzaq told the website. "I've got no regrets about signing for the ICL because I probably couldn't have played in the IPL even if I had wanted to. The IPL only selects those players who have been recommended by the domestic cricket boards. I hadn't signed a central contract and I had been dropped from the team so there's no guarantee I'd have been able to play in the IPL anyway.

ICL players worldwide have been banned from playing international cricket but Razzaq was confident it would be lifted in due course. Since the ECB has allowed all its ICL players to honour their county commitments, he felt a change of guard within the PCB could result in something similar in Pakistan as well. Given India's powerful influence in the ICC, Razzaq said a change of heart from the BCCI would also help a great deal.

"The ban on ICL players could be lifted worldwide or the PCB officials could be replaced and the new set of officials may decide to lift the ban," he said. "Just look at county cricket. Initially we were banned but now that it has been lifted, I'm playing for Surrey. So it's not impossible to think that I could be playing for the ICL and the PCB by this time next year.

"The Asian Cricket Council and the ICC both know that currently India produces a lot of revenue for them, so whatever India decides they will do. I very much doubt that this ban will be lifted without either the BCCI's say or a change of officials in the PCB.

"The ICL contract doesn't mean that I definitely can't play in the 2009 Twenty20 World Cup. It could still happen."

However, he cautioned that taking the PCB to court over the bans isn't the solution as it's impossible to challenge government bodies in Pakistan and hope for a fair hearing.

"In England, everyone is equal in the eyes of the law but in Pakistan that's not the case. You can't challenge the government or government bodies like the PCB. The courts belong to the government and so does the PCB, why would one overrule the other? This sort of thing can't be successful in Pakistan."

Commenting on the current Pakistan team, Razzaq felt Shoaib Malik was the wrong choice as captain. Malik succeeded Inzamam-ul-Haq after Pakistan's first-round exit from the 2007 World Cup. Pakistan have had mixed results in the period since, reaching the finals of the World Twenty20 but losing Test series to India and South Africa.

"I think he (Malik) was given the captaincy too early. He may have made a good captain in the future but not right now. Or they could have made Malik the captain and kept more experienced players around like India have done. They would be there to advise, support, and help him settle into the role."