While Pakistan cricket fans face the prospect of no local stars in the Indian Premier League, leading players haven’t given up on rejoining the Twenty20 competition.
The shift from India to South Africa came too late for Pakistani players, who first were barred by their government from traveling to India in the wake of terror attacks in Mumbai, then had their IPL contracts terminated.
The IPL was relocated last month due to security concerns in India, where the dates for the tournament clashed with federal elections.
Had the switch to South Africa happened earlier, players like Salman Butt, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul and Sohail Tanvir could have fulfilled their IPL contracts without contravening the Pakistan government bans.
But the IPL franchises had no other option in February but to either terminate or suspend the contracts of Pakistan players after the required period of acquiring the No Objection Certificate from the respective cricket boards expired.
It seems, though, that the players were never officially informed.
“We are even willing to travel to South Africa and sort out this matter with the IPL franchises,” said Salman Ahmed, who is negotiation with the IPL on behalf of the Pakistani players.
IPL chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi told Ahmed that it would not be possible to include Pakistan players in this year’s event as the franchises had recruited replacements in February to replace them.
Ahmed said Pakistan players still want to be involved. “The franchises have given them nothing in writing,” Ahmed said. “It is in their contracts that a notice will be served before any such termination or suspension, but in this case nothing as such is indicated with any of the player.”
Ahmed said he’d been told that the IPL will liaise with the franchises in a bid to resolve the contract confusion.
The IPL was a ratings success in Pakistan last season when left-arm paceman Tanvir took 22 wickets in helping Rajasthan Royals lift the title.
But it won’t get the same exposure without local involvement. “I’m not going to watch this year’s competition,” said Yousuf Mustafa, an 18-year-old college student. “Without our players competing what’s the interest left for us?”
Pakistan is playing a five-match limited-overs international series against Australia in the United Arab Emirates starting later this month that would have taken the national team players out of action for the IPL in any case.