LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Saturday expressed its displeasure over reports that the BCCI has reached out to a number of ICC members forcing them to withdraw their retired cricketers from the Kashmir Premier League (KPL) Twenty20 tournament, and resolved to raise the issue at the game’s world governing body.

The inaugural KPL featuring six franchise-based teams of Azad Jammu and Kashmir is scheduled to be held in AJK capital Muzaffarabad from Aug 6 to 16.

Muzaffarabad Tigers, Rawalakot Hawks, Bagh Stallions, Mirpur Royals, Kotli Lions and Overseas Warriors are the participating teams which will be led by prominent Pakistan current and cricketers Mohammad Hafeez, Shahid Afridi, Shadab Khan, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal and Imad Wasim, respectively.

Vows to raise the matter at ICC forum

In a press statement issued on Saturday, the Pakistan Cricket Board adopted the stance that as the league has been approved by the PCB, BCCI’s instructions regarding the KPL have resulted in interference in the internal affairs of ICC members.

“The PCB believes the BCCI has once again breached international norms and the spirit of the gentleman’s game by interfering in internal affairs of the ICC members as the KPL has been approved by the PCB,” the PCB statement read.

“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.

“Such conduct from the BCCI is completely unacceptable, against the preamble of the Spirit of Cricket and sets a dangerous precedent, which can neither be tolerated nor ignored,” the statement added.

The BCCI, which has a cash-rich brand of the Indian Premier League (IPL), has been using it as an instrument to dictate its terms on others as the world’s top cricketers give first preference to play in the league to earn handsome amounts every year.

“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,” the statement concluded.

That’s the reason the KPL is facing problems in attracting foreign cricketers, who preferred to quit their agreement to play in its first edition.

Interestingly, August selected for holding the KPL is also important as both Pakistan and India celebrate their respective independence days during this month. The Muslim-majority Kashmir region, controlled partly by both India and Pakistan, has remained a disputed territory since the 1947 partition of sub-continent.

BCCI ‘THREATENING’ KPL CRICKETERS

Al Jazeera reported on Saturday former South African opener Herschelle Gibbs tweeted that the BCCI warned him against taking part in the KPL.

“Completely unnecessary of the @BCCI to bring their political agenda with Pakistan into the equation and trying to prevent me playing in the @kpl_20. Also threatening me saying they won’t allow me entry into India for any cricket related work. Ludicrous,” Gibbs said on Twitter.

According to Al Jazeera, the former South African player confirmed the developments to Al Jazeera before adding that “the message from Mr Shah [BCCI secretary] was sent to Graeme Smith [Cricket South Africa’s director of cricket] who passed it on to me”.

Meanwhile, former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif also alleged that the BCCI was warning cricket boards against allowing their players to take part in the tournament.

“The @BCCI warning cricket boards that if there former players took part in Kashmir Premier League, they won’t be allowed entry in India or allowed to work in Indian cricket at any level or in any capacity,” Rashid said.

The BCCI did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.

Taimoor Khan, director of cricket operations for KPL, told Al Jazeera that the league was aware of the threats and warnings issued to players via their agents.

“It has happened, the proof has come out and it’s all really very strange,” Taimoor told Al Jazeera. “There were messages sent to England’s cricketers too. We’ve been told that the players were warned they won’t be allowed to travel to India again if they take part in the KPL.”

An email from an England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) licensed agent sent to Taimoor, and seen by Al Jazeera, alleged that a BCCI official called up the ECB and warned that, in addition to travel restrictions, the participating cricketers will not be “allowed to work in anything Indian cricket related”.

“The good news is that Gibbs and Tillakaratne Dilshan [former Sri Lankan cricketer] will be taking part in the league,” Taimoor added.

“We are extremely thankful to them. They are firm on their stance and fulfilling the commitment they made even though the pressure if enormous on them from the BCCI.”

Published in Dawn, August 1st, 2021

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