In the inaugural edition of the International League T20 (ILT20) held from January 13 to February 12 earlier this year, Pakistani players were notably absent from the tournament. The UAE-based league has made a tempting offer of USD 450,000 to the top players for the first season, with organizers ready to offer Shahin Afridi, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan an impressive USD 900,000.
The trio were also promised captaincy positions and three-year contracts. Additional players, including Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Hasnaini, have also been approached by various franchises. Although Azam Khan was initially picked by the Desert Vipers, the PCB denied him a No Objection Certificate, preventing his participation.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has conveyed to the players that they can only participate in the ILT20 while away from Pakistan Super League (PSL) and national duties. However, the PCB did not clear any players and the then PCB chairman Ramiz Raja even sought compensation from the Emirates Cricket Board for releasing the players for the league.
While current PCB chief Najam Sethi has taken a more flexible stance on the ILT20, offering to negotiate with the UAE on a give-and-take basis, the PSL franchise holders have a different view. They argue that releasing the Pakistani players and strengthening the ILT20 will be detrimental to the PSL.
There are indications that if the current administration stays in place for the next three years, Pakistani cricketers may eventually take part in the ILT20.