KARACHI: Several Pakistan cricketers are reportedly unhappy with chief selector Wahab Riaz for delaying the issuance of NOCs to players to compete in foreign leagues, such as the Big Bash League in Australia, leading to tension between the two sides the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported on Sunday.

Sources close to the players told PTI that all-rounder Imad Wasim had decided to end his international career because of the tension prevailing between the chief selector and the cricketers over the issuance of NOCs.

Imad had announced his retirement on Friday, bringing down the curtain to his eight-year international career.

“Wahab has made it clear to all centrally-contracted players that their first priority is to play for Pakistan and also insisted that anyone wanting to be considered for selection to the national team has to make appearances in domestic cricket,” said the source.

He added that Imad decided to retire as he had contracts lined up for lucrative T10 and T20 leagues in the UAE, Australia and South Africa.

“Imad and some other players are yet to be issued NOCs for the T10 league in Abu Dhabi while the board has also not taken a decision on issuing NOCs for the Big Bash in Australia,” he added.

PCB chief Zaka Ashraf had recently told media that the board had decided as a policy that centrally-contracted players would be given permission to play in only one league apart from the Pakistan Super League.

Zaka attributed Pakistan’s poor performance in the recently-concluded World Cup in India to his predecessor’s decision to issue NOCs to several members of the squad to play in different leagues before the Asia Cup. Pakistan failed to make it to the World Cup semi-finals after losing five of their nine matches.

Wahab, who until recently was active on the franchise cricket circuit and had said he will play in next year’s PSL as well, has made it clear that centrally-contracted players must find a balance between national duty and franchise-based leagues, as the PCB wants them fit for different assignments.

Some of the players are not happy with the strong stand taken by Wahab and Zaka and are anxiously waiting for NOCs for the upcoming leagues. Haris Rauf, who pulled out of the race for selection for the three-Test series in Australia, and some other players have already entered into agreements to play in the T10 league and Big Bash.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2023

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