Snubbed by the Indian Premier League (IPL), Pakistan cricketers are eagerly looking forward to participating in the Sri Lanka Twenty20 League due to be held from July 15 to August 1.
Apart from Pakistan’s limited-overs captain Shahid Afridi, retired pacer Shoaib Akhtar and South Africa’s Herchelle Gibbs have confirmed their participation in the event with Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) in talks with star players from Australia, India, South Africa and the West Indies along with the home players for the event.
The tournament – stretching for 24 matches – will feature seven teams. Former Sri Lanka captains Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara besides current captain Tillikaratne Dilshan will be leading the participating sides along with Afridi, Daniel Vettori and former Sri Lanka pacer Chaminda Vaas.
Interest from regulars and discards
Pakistan players, sidelined from the mega Twenty20 tournaments including the IPL and the Champions League, hope to quench their thirst in the forthcoming event.
According to officials, nearly all Pakistan players, including out-of-favour individuals, are interested in the league with all-rounder Abdul Razzaq, Sohail Tanvir, Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul and former captain Shoaib Malik currently in discussions with the SLC.
“I’m in talks with the SLC regarding the league,” wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal told The Express Tribune. “It’s a good event and I will try to avail the chance of playing in the league that will keep me busy.”
Meanwhile, Malik, who has been out of international action since last August has also shown interest in the tournament.
“My contract is yet to be confirmed but I’ m looking to play cricket whether it’s club or league cricket,” said the former captain. “The Sri Lanka league would be a good option.”
Meanwhile, the Rawalpindi Express, who announced his retirement from international cricket during the World Cup, has also resumed training to prepare for the event, confirmed an official close to the pacer. “He is in good shape and is aiming for a good show in the tournament.”
PCB set to give go-ahead
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has announced it will give an instant go-ahead to the players who wish to take part in the event. “We don’t have any issues as it’s an authorised event and it’s not even clashing with the team’s international schedule,” said PCB spokesperson Nadeem Sarwar.
However, the official was unclear about clearance of the players being investigated by the Integrity Committee.
SLC confirms talks with Pakistan players
The SLC has confirmed it was in talks with several Pakistan players regarding their participation. “We have many Pakistan players in our list of probables,” said SLC spokesman Brian Thomas.
He also confirmed that the deal is expected to be finalised and squads to be named in a couple of weeks.
“I’m in talks with the SLC regarding the league. It’s a good event and I will try to avail the chance of playing in the league that will keep me busy.”
“My contract is yet to be confirmed but I’ m looking to play cricket whether it’s club or league cricket. The Sri Lanka League would be a good option.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2011.
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