PCB vs BCCI over Kashmir Premier League
The Pakistan board has expressed displeasure at reports that its Indian counterpart is trying to prevent players from joining the tournament
The PCB has expressed its displeasure over reports that the BCCI called ICC Full Members in a bid to prevent retired players from those countries from appearing in the Kashmir Premier League (KPL), a new T20 tournament set to take place in Pakistan in August. The PCB said it was a breach of "international norms and the spirit of the gentleman's game by interfering in internal affairs of cricket boards."
The KPL is a six-team franchise model league, run by private businessmen, but with clearances from the Pakistan government and crucially, approved by the PCB. The tournament will be played at the Muzaffarabad cricket stadium in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, scheduled to start on August 6 with the final on August 17. Each team is named after the cities in the region - Kotli, Bagh, Mirpur, Rawalakot, Muzaffarabad and one team of overseas players - and the squads were selected through a draft process last month. According to a release by the organisers, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal and Shadab Khan will be captains of the sides.
A raft of retired foreign players had been signed up to play according to organisers, including Monty Panesar, Matt Prior, Phil Mustard, Tino Best, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Gibbs. But a player agent in England informed the KPL management that the BCCI had called up the ECB and Cricket South Africa and told them to withdraw their players from the league, otherwise those players would not be able to work in India.
Kashmir has been the central focus of the dispute - as well as the cause of several wars - between India and Pakistan from the moment India gained independence and Pakistan was created in 1947. Both countries control part of the region but govern it separately. Political and diplomatic ties between the two countries have fluctuated over the years, though they are currently strained. Relations between the two boards generally follow on from the political atmosphere at the time. Several years ago the PCB had mooted the idea of allotting a PSL franchise to Kashmir, though that never materialised.
"The PCB considers that the BCCI has brought the game into disrepute by issuing warnings to multiple ICC Members to stop their retired cricketers from featuring in the Kashmir Premier League, further threatening they will not be allowed entry into India for cricket-related work," the PCB said in a statement. "Such conduct from the BCCI is completely unacceptable, against the preamble of the Spirit of Cricket and sets a dangerous precedence, which can neither be tolerated nor ignored. The PCB will raise this matter at the appropriate ICC forum and also reserves the right to take any further action that is available to us within the ICC charter."
ESPNcricinfo has sent the PCB statement to BCCI secretary Jay Shah and asked for a BCCI response.
The KPL has caused some internal friction as well, with franchises of the Pakistan Super League at one point unhappy that a new PCB-approved T20 league was going ahead and potentially cannibalising the PSL's commercial space. The PSL has become the PCB's showpiece product and the feeling among franchises was that another league, with big domestic names in it, would impact their own commercial rights and sponsor spending. The KPL will be broadcast and have a digital presence, and is attracting considerable local commercial interest.
These apprehensions were expressed to the PCB last month, leading the board's CEO to respond with assurances that they will safeguard the profile and importance of the PSL. Wasim Khan told franchise owners that the PSL remains the premier T20 tournament in the country. The PCB has not allowed the KPL to run at a time of its own choosing - it was postponed earlier this year to prevent a clash with the PSL. And according to Khan, the PCB will not allow its centrally contracted players to be involved in the KPL, effectively throwing doubts on the participation of Shadab and Usman Qadir. A big chunk of contracted players will anyway be in the West Indies for a two-match Test series.
As well as the country's most prominent players - all of whom play in the PSL as well as the National T20 Cup, Pakistan's other T20 event - the league will be using PCB match officials as well as the services of its anti-corruption unit.
India and Pakistan are set to face off again, this time on the field, at the T20 World Cup in October.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent