The PCB has denied Umar Akmal, Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi permission to play this season's Big Bash League (BBL), the Australia Twenty20 league, to ensure the trio's participation in their domestic Twenty20 tournament ahead of the tour of India. Akmal had signed with Sydney Sixers and Ajmal with Adelaide Strikers for the season, while Afridi would have moved from Melbourne Renegades to Sydney Thunder.
The PCB had earlier issued the players No Objection Certificates to play in the BBL that begins on December 7. The PCB's national T20 championship is set to be played between December 2 and 10, and will be followed by a week-long conditioning camp before the team leaves for India on December 22.
Ajmal and Akmal, who signed with their respective BBL teams earlier this month, had not played in the league's inaugural edition. Afridi had moved to Thunder during the transfer window in July. In the last season, for Renegades, while he did not have much of an impact with the bat - he made 69 in four innings - he was their leading wicket-taker, with 10 scalps at 20.80 apiece.
Sydney Thunder will now move to find a replacement for Afridi. The franchise's general manager, John Dyson, said he was disappointed with this late development: "Afridi is one of the most exciting and popular T20 players in the world. It is a pity that our Thunder supporters, many of whom follow Afridi closely, will miss out on seeing him first hand this season at our home ground."
Adelaide Strikers have also begun the hunt for Ajmal's replacement. "We've already started hunting for an international replacement and, let me assure you, there are some really exciting prospects out there, " Jamie Cox, SACA's Director of Cricket, said. "Once we've finalised Ajmal's replacement, Striker fans will be the first to know."