Pakistan news December 17, 2008

Increase benefits or face defections - Shabbir

Cricinfo staff

Shabbir Ahmed: "Livelihood of many cricketers is now linked to the ICL. How long can they [PCB] continue to ignore it?" © Cricinfo Ltd

Shabbir Ahmed, the former Pakistan bowler who now plays for the ICL, has said that if the Pakistan board did not increase financial benefits for domestic cricketers it would have to face more defections to the unauthorised Twenty20 league which offered good money to players.

However, Shabbir, who plays for the ICL's Chennai Superstars, was hopeful that the new PCB regime, which included several former Test players, would change the situation where ICL players were banned from playing any form of representative cricket in and for Pakistan. Javed Miandad, the former Pakistan captain and current director-general of the PCB, had earlier said there was immense pressure on the board to bring ICL players back into the fold.

"All the previous heads of the board were clueless," Shabbir was quoted as saying in the Pakistan daily Nation. "It is good now they have brought a former Test player [Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman] and other cricketers into the board.

"Sooner or later the authorities will have to recognise the ICL as it is big cricket and it is offering big money. Livelihood of many cricketers is now linked to the ICL. How long can they continue to ignore it?"

Shabbir accused former PCB chairman Nasim Ashraf of having a personal agenda against the ICL players. "At times it seemed as if Ashraf had some sort of personal agenda against the ICL and some interest in the Indian Premier League and allowing players to sign contracts with it," Shabbir said.

Earlier this year Shoaib Akhtar alleged that the PCB's ban imposed him on grounds on indiscipline was punishment in return for refusing to give Ashraf a share of his salary from the IPL. Shoaib also alleged that Ashraf had tried to extort money from other Pakistani cricketers as well. He apologised and took back his comments after Ashraf filed a defamation suit against him.

Shabbir said several former players who criticised the decision of those who joined the ICL had played in Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket despite opposition from other cricket boards. "They did because they were getting good money. We have also gone to the ICL to safeguard our future."