Ehsan Mani was elected unopposed as PCB chairman © PCB
The PCB will not allow their players to participate in this year’s T10 League unless the board is satisfied about the finances behind the league. It is the second significant development ahead of the second edition of the T10 League, after the league’s president, Salman Iqbal – also a major investor in the tournament – stepped down citing a lack of “transparency” and “proper systems and monitoring”. The new PCB chairman Ehsan Mani has written to the ICC seeking reassurances about the league “being clean”.
“I am holding back my position [on providing an NOC to the Pakistani players to participate in the T10] until I am fully satisfied with specifics on whose money is fueling this league,” Mani told reporters in Dubai. “In fact, I have asked the ICC for reassurance because they have sanctioned it and I need it in writing that they are totally satisfied that this league has no such element that can bring Pakistan players into dispute. Unfortunately, [our players] get trapped [into sinister machinations often] so my top priority is to protect my players as, for us, reputation of Pakistan is far more important.”
The T10 League, a 10-overs-a-side format introduced by private cricket organisers in Sharjah, made its debut late last year, and the success of its opening season has led to an increase from six teams to eight and from a 13-match tournament held over four days to a 28-game event over ten days. The PCB had levied a fee of $400,000 USD on the league and, for extending its support, they are supposed to get another $600,000 (USD).
Iqbal, the owner of the ARY Media Group and the Pakistan Super League’s second-most expensive team, Karachi Kings, struck a deal with UAE-based businessman Shaji ul Mulk for launching the league last year. The second edition is set to run from November 23 to December 2. Prominent players like Rashid Khan, Chris Lynn, Brendon McCullum and Andre Russell have committed to taking part this season. On Monday, the eight franchises gathered in Dubai for a mini draft to pick their icon players and choose four players to retain from their 2017 squads.
However, in a surprise move, Iqbal resigned from the position of president on September 19, and disassociated himself from all its operations. His presence in the league was a major driver in pulling in Pakistani players managing to rope in a number of the top nationally contracted players.
Initially the PCB wasn’t willing to allow its players to take part since it clashed with the commercial interests of the PSL in the UAE. But Iqbal, despite having a stake in the PSL, managed to convince the then PCB chairman Najam Sethi to let them participate. Sethi, who was in charge of the board until last month, had committed to the T10 that the board would release its players for the second edition. The commitment, however, now stands revoked under the new chairman.
“I don’t understand the rationale behind that. On what basis did [the board] commit Pakistan [players to the T10 League]?” asked Mani. “I think the only criteria that was considered was how much money the PCB and the players will get. The players’ workload wasn’t taken into account.
“All the leagues that Pakistani players participate in, I am getting them re-examined. Whichever league our players are involved in, we need to find out with due diligence who are running the leagues and whether they are really credible. This wasn’t done before [with regards to the T10 League] as there is not a single piece paper that can tell me who are these people are behind the T10 League.”
The board has also barred its players from participating in the Afghanistan Premier League (APL) starting from October 5, in Sharjah. In an email sent by the PCB to Kamran Akmal, the PCB intimated that only players who have retired from all formats are allowed to participate in the tournament. Allrounder Shahid Afridi, along with Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Irfan, Faheem Ashraf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Sohail Tanvir, Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez were picked in the APL draft earlier this month.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.