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PCB set to delay Haris Rauf's NOC for BBL

Rauf's absence could disrupt the plans of Melbourne Stars, who signed the Pakistan quick as a marquee player

Danyal Rasool
Danyal Rasool
Haris Rauf is among the most recognisable foreign players in the BBL  •  Daniel Pockett/Cricket Australia/Getty Images

Haris Rauf is among the most recognisable foreign players in the BBL  •  Daniel Pockett/Cricket Australia/Getty Images

Haris Rauf's involvement at the BBL is set to hit a snag, with the Pakistan Cricket Board expected to delay the No-Objection Certificate he requires to participate in the league.
ESPNcricinfo understands Rauf's NOC is almost certain to be delayed until at least December 11, four days after the BBL begins. There is no confirmation that it will be issued immediately after. Mohammad Hafeez is scheduled to hold a press conference in Lahore ahead of the Pakistan team's departure to Australia, and it is understood light on Rauf's situation will also be shed.
The official reason for the delay is that the National T20 Cup in Pakistan runs until December 10, a tournament the PCB expects Rauf to participate in in its entirety.
Last week, Pakistan's newly appointed chief selector Wahab Riaz announced that Rauf had declined to take part in Pakistan's Test series in Australia in December-January. Wahab did not make any attempt to hide his displeasure at Rauf's decision, though each party disputes the specific version of events that led up to that point. But in his role as chief selector, Wahab has significant influence in which players are issued NOCs - and when - with no guarantee yet of this standoff being resolved amicably.
Rauf's absence from the BBL is also likely to ruffle feathers with the league, and particularly with Melbourne Stars, who signed the Pakistan fast bowler as a marquee player. It was initially assumed Rauf would only be unavailable from the BBL for the duration of Pakistan's five-match T20 series in New Zealand in mid-January, but further delays will throw a spanner in the works of that league, too.
That is especially true since Rauf's availability has been heavily used as a marketing tool for the BBL this year, as the league - and Cricket Australia in general - looks to target their domestic South Asian audience in a concerted marketing strategy. The Melbourne Stars introduced what they called "House of Rauf" Membership on sale for the first three games at the MCG this year, as well as Haris Rauf Bay, a specifically dedicated seating zone.
If Rauf's NOC situation drags on, it may raise concerns with Pakistan's centrally contracted players in general. Protracted contract negotiations between the PCB and the players hit a snag partially because of disagreements between each party about how many foreign leagues the players would be permitted to play each year. It is understood they settled on two, though participation in any league remained subject to the PCB issuing an NOC.
The BBL runs from December 7, 2023 to January 24 next year.

Danyal Rasool is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @Danny61000