The tournament has not even started but is already under the spotlight for the wrong reasons. The 2nd Pakistan Champions League (PCL) T20 event, where seven foreign teams are also taking part, is clashing with the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) Senior Inter-district tournament with the authorities making it clear that the players can choose only one of the two.
The PCL will run from May 21 to 31, while the month-long inter-district tournament starts on May 25. Some of the teams that are part of the $20,000 event have been threatened by local authorities and regional association officials that they cannot be part of the PCB event if they took part in the PCL.
“We’ve received complaints that some of the participating teams have been pressurised to opt between the two which is not a wise thing,” an organising member of the PCL told The Express Tribune. “The PCL has been arranged to bolster Pakistan’s image but the PCB hasn’t co-operated at all. They could’ve easily delayed the event by a week or two.”
The PCL is featuring 40 teams, a list that includes 16 clubs from Karachi and 17 from other parts of the country. Seven foreign teams, including the national sides of Hong Kong, Kuwait, Qatar, Riyadh Cricket Association (Saudi Arabia), Phoenix Medicine (UAE), Dammam Cricket Club (Saudi Arabia) and Afghanistan Youth Cricket Club, are also taking part.
Abbottabad’s SG Jadoon Cricket Club manager Arshad Rehman has also complained that their preparations have been hampered after four of his team’s top players were forced out of the event due to the chaos. Rehman added that the PCB has not set a good example by trying to ruin the PCL, an event which could eventually help in reviving international cricket in Pakistan.
The inter-district event was held in May-June last year as well. However, on most occasions, the event has been held from August to October, leading to speculation that the board is not happy with the PCL and has arranged the event to clash with the T20 tournament.
Meanwhile, Burewala’s Allahbad Cricket Club has also shown its frustration over the clash of dates depleted their squad.
“The strength of our side has been reduced and we’ll be missing our prolific run-scorer in first-class cricket Naved Yasin,” said team manager Mohammad Omer. “Influential players have said they’ll play in both events and nobody can stop them. But this shouldn’t have happened and the board should’ve co-operated by delaying their event by a week as it wasn’t a big ask.”
PCB dismisses claims
Meanwhile, the PCB has dismissed the impression and said that the event is being hosted early because of Ramazan.
“Ramazan is close and that’s the only reason we’re staging our event early,” said a senior PCB official. “The stories of intentionally disturbing the PCL are baseless and childish.”
Hong Kong first to arrive in Karachi
The Hong Kong team was the first to arrive for the PCL and will play their practice T20 match against Southend Blues today at the Southend Club.
Hong Kong will play their first match of the event on May 24 against Boraywala’s Alahbad Cricket Club at the RLCA Korangi Stadium. The team was extended an invitation after Canada’s Berry Cricket Club pulled out of the event due to the Pakistan authorities’ refusal to grant visa to three of their players.
Meanwhile, all foreign teams’ accommodation a five-star hotel will be funded by the organisers and will also be provided security arrangements.