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'The PCB has dealt us a massive blow' - Qalandars CEO

Imad Wasim's quickfire cameo lent the Pakistani innings a sense of purpose Getty Images

The CEO of T10 franchise Qalandars - who stood to lose the most from the PCB's decision to revoke NOCs for Pakistani players in the league this season - did not hold back in his anger at the development. Sameen Rana lost players of the quality of Mohammad Hafeez, Imad Wasim and Faheem Ashraf in one fell swoop, leading him to say that the PCB should have made this call well ahead of the draft to enable the franchises to make informed decisions.

"I wish it had been clear before the draft whether the PCB would issue NOCs or not," Rana told ESPNcricinfo. "This is a proper cricket organisation, and it hasn't suddenly dawned on them that the league clashes with the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy? I think it's disappointing for the Pakistan players, with them being prevented from playing in global events like the T10.

"They would have had a chance to learn from players around the world. The West Indies cricket board, CA [Cricket Australia], and almost all other boards are supporting this league."

The third edition of the T10 league, set to take place in Abu Dhabi from November 15 to 24 this year, includes eight teams. It is the Qalandars, owned by the same group that owns the Lahore Qalandars in the Pakistan Super League, who stand to lose most from the eleventh-hour decision.

The make-up of the Qalandars squad is almost exclusively Pakistani, and while most of those players continue to remain available to them for the tournament - coming as they do from the Player Development Programme the Lahore Qalandars organised in their quest to uncover hidden talent throughout the country - key names like Hafeez, Imad and Faheem will become unavailable.

"Our team will be badly hurt; there is no doubt about it, but a lot of guys are here from the Player Development Programme. So we don't need NOCs for them. These are players that we have developed and groomed, and they are on our contracts. But it would have been good to get support from the PCB because this is a fundamentally Pakistani team. Qalandar is a Pakistani name."

In addition to the Player Development Programme, the Qalandars will still retain the services of icon player Shahid Afridi and former Pakistan opener Imran Nazir, given they are not contracted by the PCB and therefore don't need an NOC to play in the event.

The PCB's official policy towards leagues around the world is what is informally known as the "PSL plus one" policy. This has resulted, as the name suggests, in players permitted to participate in one league other the PCB-backed Pakistan Super League, with further permission subject to a case-by-case evaluation. The PCB believes this strikes a healthy balance between the players' desire to safeguard their economic interests, and the board's concerns about fatigue and burnout. The main reason the PCB provided for blocking player participation in this year's T10 League is that it wanted them to play domestic matches in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.

Rana, however, emphatically rejected that explanation. "I don't agree with the statement the PCB put out on the workload of the Pakistan players. Did they not think about the workload on Mohammad Hafeez when they issued him an NOC for the CPL? This is something I don't understand. You can play in the CPL, you can play in Canada, and everywhere else in the world. But when it comes to the T10, where you have a Pakistani-origin team that is full of Pakistanis, you refuse permission? If you wanted to take this decision, you could have taken it before the draft. What has happened is the PCB has dealt us a massive blow."

Rana said while the primary purpose of investing in Pakistan players was to develop local talent, this would invariably force the Qalandars into being more wary in the future.

"The UAE government backs this league, and we should look at it in that context. When the UAE is trying to develop the game there, you should think about the UAE's contribution in making the PSL a brand and supporting it from the get-go. They provided their grounds, and the PCB and the ECB [Emirates Cricket Board] have enjoyed a great relationship over the years. This will send a very wrong message to the ECB, because they may well feel the PCB's decision has damaged the value of their league.

"The purpose of our team was to give the Pakistani players an opportunity. This is visible from the draft we conducted, where there are 10 Pakistani players, including our captain Sohail Akhtar. We didn't expect the NOCs to be revoked so late in the day. If we had, perhaps our decision would have been different."