Pakistan Cricket Board may turn to Qatar to host T20 league

Sport360 staff 19:36 15/07/2015
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The PCB were unable to secure grounds for their PSL tournament.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is exploring the possibility of taking its new T20 tournament to Qatar after a scheduling issue saw the UAE reject the opportunity to host the competition.  

The UAE plans to host the inaugural Masters Champions League (MCL) in February 2016 after the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) agreed a deal with Dubai-based Pakistani businessman Zafar Shah to bring the likes of Wasim Akram, Brian Lara and Jacques Kallis to the Emirates.

The decision to host the MCL means that the PCB’s bid to launch the Pakistan Super League in the UAE has fallen flat, much to the disappointment of PCB officials.

Pakistan have been playing their home matches in the UAE for the past six years and the PCB felt that the long-standing association would be rewarded with priority over the exhibition tournament. 

On Tuesday, two PCB officials, Salman Sarwar Butt and Usman Wahla, flew to Qatar to explore the prospects of holding the PSL there next year instead of the UAE. 

A PCB official told Sport360: “The PCB and people of Pakistan feel hard done by the Emirates Cricket Board after it gave its stadiums to MCL despite it being apparent that we would be launching our T20 league in February in the UAE.

“What is even worse is the manner in which ECB has dealt the matter as they quietly booked all three venues and not once brought the matter to PCB’s attention that such a development was taking place. This has forced us to explore opportunities in Qatar.

“This is a big question mark of how things are being dealt with in the ECB right now that they are snubbing PCB’s T20 league.”

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The PCB official further lamented the ECB for preferring an event that they say does not have official ICC approval, adding: “This is a big question mark of how things are being dealt with in the ECB right now that they are snubbing PCB’ T20 league in favour of a competition whose case of approval is yet to even be submitted to the ICC.”

MCL chairman Zafar Shah, however, denied that the MCL is without ICC approval, saying: “We’ve got the ICC’s approval and due diligence have been completed as well.”

The PCB has long billed the UAE as a ‘home away from home’ and played a major role in nurturing the UAE as a cricketing venue since it started staging all of its ‘home’ tours in the gulf country following the 2009 Lahore attack on the Sri Lankan team bus which saw Pakistan unable to host international cricket due to security reasons.

Last month, PCB officials flew to the UAE to meet with their ECB counterparts in an effort to resolve the issue but claim they were informed on arrival that ECB chief executive David East was unavailable to discuss the matter.

When asked whether the ECB was aware the PCB was planning to stage the T20 league in the UAE before they signed with the MCL, East told Sport360:  “At the time we understood that they had intentions regarding the league and we read it through media. Now we’ve a commitment with MCL and the PCB is well aware of it.”

PCB officials met with Zafar and his daughter Zarah – MCL CEO – but he has refused to accommodate the PSL by holding his own competition either earlier or later in the year.

When Sport360 contacted Zafar, he denied that any such meeting had taken place and claimed that the MCL is moving ahead as planned.

“The whole project is moving ahead nicely as 168 players have registered with us and we expect the numbers to reach 200,” Zafar said.  

“The MCL will be the revival of players who can still showcase their skills at the top level but didn’t get enough chances for their country or were snubbed with time still remaining on their careers.” 

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