Pakistan board looks at getting Yousuf back

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Pakistan board is trying to bring Mohammad Yousuf back into the fold after he'd signed up with the Indian Cricket League (ICL). Three other Pakistan internationals - Abdul Razzaq, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Imran Farhat - have also signed up with the league though, revealingly, the board has not made any efforts to convince them otherwise.

A board official told Cricinfo that Yousuf's absence was the main concern.

"Obviously the four signing up is something of a loss but we are concerned mainly about Yousuf. We are trying to discuss his decision with him but we are happy that he is the only big name to sign up from Pakistan."

Local papers reported the board was considering offering greater financial rewards in a bid to lure Yousuf back and, though unconfirmed, they are likely to create some friction with players who turned down lucrative offers from the ICL to stay with Pakistan.

Of equal concern, for this present administration, would be another policy u-turn. Since taking over in October 2006, the board has acquired an unhealthy reputation for reversing on major decisions; lifting the doping bans on Mohammad Asif and Shoaib Akhtar, sacking and then re-hiring 80 board staff and the dismissal and re-appointment of Mushtaq Ahmed are just three examples.

Its policy on the ICL has been clear so far: any player associated with it will be banned from playing for Pakistan. And even as efforts are underway to change Yousuf's mind, Nasim Ashraf, the PCB chairman, reiterated its stance on the ICL.

"Our position is clear. Anybody who goes to the ICL does so of his own choice,"

he said. "

It is not an approved league and anybody associated with it will not be associated with Pakistan thereafter."

Critics point out, though, that the stance may cause legal complications. Arif Abbasi, a former board chairman, was involved in negotiations with Kerry Packer over the fate of Pakistan players who signed up with World Series Cricket in the late 1970s and he believes, as he did then, there is nothing wrong with a separate league.

"What is wrong with the league? You can't stop players from playing and earning money,"

Abbasi said.

"That is a human right and it will become an issue if the board tries to implement a ban. The PCB's reaction stems from ignorance because Kapil Dev [the chairman of the ICL board] has already said players will be released for international matches. So where's the problem?"

Another legal problem could arise if the board does decide to bring back one player and ignore the other three. Further, none of them are legally bound to the board in any way, as none have current contracts.

"You cannot justify bringing just one player back and banning the other three. In any case, how do you ban someone you have not selected?"

asks Abbasi.

Yousuf is currently unavailable but some further development, says one official, is expected in the next few days. Just how unawares the board was caught by the signing is evident from the uncertainty of his response.

"We need a few days to see what is happening. We are not sure at this point how big this whole issue will be or how it will pan out. We will have a clearer development on the whole matter in a few days."


Cricket team leave for Kenya

KARACHI: Pakistan cricket team left for Kenya to play three practice matches as a part of preparations for Twenty20World Cup.

The team would reach South Africa from Nairobi where first Twenty20 World Cup would be started from September 11.

In Nairobi, Pakistan would play first match against Unganda on September 1st. Second match would be played on September 2 against Kenya and third against Bangladesh.

In Twenty20 World Cup, Pakistan would play its first match against Scotland on September 12 and to reach super eight stage, Pakistan would face arch-rival India in last match on September 14.


Lawson hopes for glimpse of future with Twenty20 vision

Pakistan's preparations for the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship have been unusually well-planned. A gruelling summer of conditioning camps in three cities as well as a glut of practice Twenty20 matches indicated a seriousness of purpose unseen in other countries. But it all means little until they play their first actual match.

"We can prepare strategies, try and find the right balances, work out plans and play any number of practice games," Geoff Lawson, the Pakistan coach, told Cricinfo just before the team's departure for Nairobi, where they play a series of warm-up matches against Bangladesh, Uganda and Kenya.

"But that can only take you so far,"

he said.

"Until the first match happens, we won't really know what to expect. We've got an excellent opportunity to play some matches in Kenya now and fine-tune our plans and get our combinations right."

The relative freshness of the format - there have only ever been 16 international matches - means teams start on a more equal footing than they might in a 50-over tournament. Pakistan have only played two internationals (won one, lost one) but were one of the first to organise a domestic Twenty20 tournament - with the fourth edition scheduled for this December - which has proved a wildly successful revenue-earner and has meant their players are familiar and comfortable with the format.

"Most of the players in the side have played it and have good experience of it,"

Lawson said.

"Shoaib [Malik, captain] has an excellent grasp of the tactics in this format. He has been successful at leading domestically as well, so that will play a part."

Fortune, too, will play a role.

"We have some explosive players but I think everyone understands that luck will play some part in this game too. Everyone wants to win and to do so, any side will need an element of luck."

It helps also if you have a pace attack

"at least the equal of any other side in the world"

. Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul are simultaneously fit and available for the first time since they came together and despite the popular perception that the format is skewed heavily in favour of batsmen, pace, Lawson feels, might make a difference.

"See, good cricketers are good cricketers in any format, 20 overs, 50 or a Test. And pace bowlers are good to have in any format. We have three or four very good ones, they are looking healthy and their roles will be crucial in South Africa."

Lawson has been with the side for just over a week, familiarising with the players and overseeing the final training camp in Lahore, but Talat Ali, the manager says the signs are already positive.

"He had good interaction with the players, the body language between all of them is very positive,"

said Ali.

"There is a definite change in the atmosphere and the way the team is and that is a good sign."

Lawson himself has been impressed by the squad's capacity for hard work.

"I'm very happy with their attitude and the way they have responded to the training regime. With David [Dwyer, fitness trainer], we've given them some real tough, heavy workouts and full-on sessions. But they want to do it and that is impressive."

There is still considerable work to be done, however, for a side Bob Woolmer initially thought the poorest he had seen in terms of fitness.

"We've looked at lots of areas in terms of their fitness. They have definitely improved, but they still have a long way to go. But we're on that slope [of progress], which is good."

How far up that slope Pakistan is, will begin to reveal itself now. They open the four-nation tournament with a match against Uganda on September 1, before taking on Bangladesh the day after. They wrap up preparations by playing the hosts Kenya on September 4, before flying out to Johannesburg for the real deal.


Woolmer inquest date is announced

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The long-awaited coroner's inquest into the death of the former Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer will begin on October 16, according to a Jamaica radio station.

Woolmer was found unconscious in his Kingston hotel room, a day after Pakistan's shock defeat against Ireland at Sabina Park - a result that condemned them to an early exit from the World Cup.

Acting on autopsy findings, Jamaica police initially said Woolmer had been strangled and launched a murder investigation. It was an announcement that sparked a media frenzy with speculation rife about a possible link with matchfixing.

The news was also a blow for Jamaica itself, a tourism-dependant country that is already plagued by one of the world's highest murder rates. But eventually, after months of investigation and a re-examination of the autopsy results, the police backtracked and said that Woolmer had died of natural causes, probably heart failure.

Ken Pantry, Jamaica's director of public prosecutions, said that more than 50 witnesses will be called at the inquest, to be held at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston.


Buchanan offers consultancy help to Pakistan

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pakistan board officials will meet John Buchanan in Australia to discuss his offer to provide consultancy services to Pakistan cricket.

Shafqat Naghmi, the board's chief operating officer, and Mudassar Nazar, director of the National Cricket Academy, are currently in Australia and will meet Buchanan to hear out the proposal. Buchanan is understood to have offered his services to several boards and not just the PCB.

Ahsan Malik, director communications, told The News,

"We received a letter from him in which he has informed us about his consultancy and offered his services in various areas like grassroots development and the coaching of coaches. His credentials are so impressive there is no way we would have turned the proposal down without considering it."

Naghmi and Nazar are expected to meet Buchanan and report back to Nasim Ashraf, chairman PCB, before any final decision is taken. Buchanan stepped down as coach of Australia after their World Cup triumph earlier this year, after nearly eight years in charge and as their most successful coach ever results-wise.

Australia didn't lose a single World Cup match while Buchanan was in charge and won 68 of 89 Tests, only losing two Test series, both away from home. He ended his tenure as triumphantly as possible, not only retaining the World Cup, but plotting an ICC Champions Trophy win and an Ashes whitewash. Since stepping down, he was approached by the Indian board indirectly, but turned it down, saying he wanted to be a "mentor coach".


ICC Awards: Yousuf, Asif among 66 nominees

MUMBAI: The International Cricket Council (ICC) announced 66 nominees in seven categories for the annual ICC awards Tuesday with only two Pakistani players Muhammad Yousuf and Muhammad Asif.

The award ceremony will be held in Johannesburg on September 10.

The nominations for the International Cricket Council (ICC) awards were announced in a ceremony in Mumbai.

ICC chief Malcolm Speed addressing the ceremony said the world cricket governing body is giving awards to create a spirit of excellence in cricketers.

The ICC announced 66 nominees in seven categories for the annual awards including ‘Captain of the Year’, ‘ODI player of the year’, ‘emerging player of the year’, ‘best Test player of the year, the best ODI team, best Test team etc.

Nominations for 'Captain of the year' award include Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene and Australia's Ricky Ponting.

Pakistan’s Muhammad Yousuf and Muhammad Asif have been included in the best Test player’ category.

The nominations for the 'Umpire of the year' include Mark Benson, Simon Taufel and Daryl Harper.


Bangladesh and Pakistan warm up in Kenya

Bangladesh and Pakistan will warm up for next month's Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa by participating alongside Kenya and Uganda in a four-nation tournament in Nairobi.

Cricket Kenya have confirmed the itinerary of the tournament which gets underway on September 1. The opening match pits Bangladesh against the hosts, Kenya, while the most-anticipated match involves Bangladesh and Pakistan a day later.

The four-day competition will be completed when Pakistan face Kenya on September 4, after which the teams fly to Johannesburg to participate in the first ever Twenty20 World Championship on September 6.

September 1 - Bangladesh v Kenya, Pakistan v Uganda
September 2 - Kenya v Uganda, Bangladesh v Pakistan
September 4 - Bangladesh v Uganda, Pakistan v Kenya

Kenya Steve Tikolo (capt), Thomas Odoyo, Maurice Ouma, David Obuya, Tanmay Mishra, Collins Obuya, Alex Obanda, Jimmy Kamande, Hiren Varaiya, Peter Ongondo, Elijah Otieno, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Rajesh Bhudia, Tony Suji, Lameck Onyango.

Pakistan Shoaib Malik (capt), Muhammad Hafeez, Misbah-ul-Haq, Imran Nazir, Yasir Arafat, Rao Iftikhar, Abdur Rehman, Umar Gul, Shoaib Akhtar, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal, Muhammad Asif, Salman Butt, Fawad Alam, Younis Khan.

Bangladesh Mohammad Ashraful (capt), Mashrafe Mortaza, Alok Kapali, Syed Rasel, Abdur Razzak, Aftab Ahmed, Mushfiqur Rahim, Farhad Reza, Shakib Al Hasan, Nadif Chowdhury, Tamim Iqbal, Junaid Siddique, Mahmudullah, Mohammed Nazimuddin, Ziaur Rahman.

Uganda To be announced.


PCB to offer incentives to get Yousuf back

Sunday, August 26, 2007

KARACHI: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has stepped up efforts to convince Mohammed Yousuf to change his mind with regard to his decision to join Indian Cricket League (ICL).

Sources in the Pakistan camp on Saturday said Board officials were considering the option of giving financial incentives to woo Yousuf back.

“All the indications are there that Lawson and the Board might have a discussion with him about his decision and some financial incentives might be given to induce him back into official cricket,”
one source said.

The PCB had said it will not consider players who go and play in the ICL for selection in the national team.

Some former players have suggested that the Board should allow players to play for both the ICL and the national team.

“It is not so easy because even if the PCB adopts such a policy it can’t do it alone. Because this would have an effect on the policies of the Indian board and others. Things have got complicated with the ICL now going to court against the Indian board and its policies,”
one source said.

Pakistan manager Talat Ali admitted that discussions were held to chalk out a strategy to convince Yousuf.


Younis Khan finally signs players central contract

LAHORE: Dashing middle order batsman Younis Khan on Saturday signed the players’ central contract with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) at the Gaddafi Stadium here.

“Yes I have signed the players contract today,”
confirmed Younis while talking to media after a practice session for the preparations of the team for the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa next month.

Younis is the 17th player, who had signed the central contract, out of the 20 players whom the PCB offered the contract.

Younis said joining the Indian Cricket League (ICL) was the decision of an individual player and no one can force any one to join it.

“I do not have plans to join the league at this stage because still I believe I can play cricket for Pakistan for another four to five years and after that at the verge of retirement I would consider to play for it,”
he said.

“Obviously the money they are offering is quite attractive but now my preference is to play for Pakistan and at some stage when I will see that I am near to retiring I will consider it to earn more money,”
he added.

He said the chances of the Pakistan and Indian teams to win the World Cup were bright as both the teams had the potential.

“Certainly I want to see Pakistan winning the title because it will add to the team’s confidence ahead of the home series,”
he said.

The team is leaving for Kenya on August 28 (Tuesday) on the way to reaching South Africa. In Kenya Pakistan will be playing in a warm-up T20 tournament to be held from September 1 to 4, also involving Bangladesh, Uganda and the hosts Kenya.

Prolific batsman Mohammad Yousuf and seasoned all-rounder Abdul Razzaq did not sign the contract after they were dropped from the Pakistan team for the Twenty20 Cup to be held in South Africa from September 11.


Shoaib cleared of disciplinary breach

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Pakistan board cleared Shoaib Akhtar of indiscipline and suspended a Rs 300,000 [US$5,000] fine, while warning him not to breach the board's code of conduct for another next six weeks.

The decision was taken after a fresh hearing conducted by Talat Ali, the team manager, with captain Shoaib Malik appearing as a witness.

"Akhtar has been exonerated after a warning as he explained that the entire incident was the result of miscommunication,"

Ali said.

Shoaib had been fined Rs 100,000 for leaving a training camp in Karachi on August 4 without informing Ali. The fine was raised to Rs 300,000 after Shoaib missed a disciplinary hearing regarding the matter.

Shoaib appealed against the fine on the grounds that he had not been given advance notice of the hearing. He also maintained that he had informed Malik before leaving the camp.

Ahsan Malik, the PCB spokeman, said that a fine could be imposed on Shoaib in case of another breach.

"Ali conducted the fresh inquiry after which it has been decided to suspend the fine for the next six weeks and in case of another breach the bowler will be fined Rs 100,000."


Miandad asks PCB to recognise Indian Cricket League

KARACHI: Former Pakistan captain and coach Javed Miandad has asked the country’s cricket board to recognise the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL).

“I don’t think this policy of banning players is going to work practically. Since the ICL is not something which the governments have objected to, I think any player can go to court and challenge any ban on him to play in and for his country,”
Miandad said in an interview.

“The International Cricket Council (ICC) and its member boards need to take the ICL seriously. Because it has the potential like the Kerry Packer series to snowball into something big,”
he said.

Miandad said a sense of uncertainty, lack of financial security and an absence of a proper cricket system in Pakistan had led to four leading players joining the rebel ICL.

“Every player has to look to his future and security. In Pakistan there is no financial security for your retirement days,”
he explained.

“For sometime now the players have been complaining of excessive cricket and not enough wages. The ICL offers them an alternative,” said Miandad.


Lawson wants 'killer's instinct' in Pakistan

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Geoff Lawson, Pakistan's new coach, said he will have to instill a "killer's instinct" in his new team if it is to reach the top in world cricket.

Lawson was speaking after arriving in the country on Monday night to take up his post and prepare for the upcoming Twenty20 World Championship.

"Any side that wants to be world's best needs aggression, the killer's instinct and must play to its strength and that's what I would be looking at,"

Lawson told a press conference.

With him from Australia is Pakistan's new trainer David Dwyer who is famous for his stints in rugby. "Dwyer just finished work with the rugby team in Australia and it would be good to have the rugby attitude and with it comes the killer's instinct."

Lawson said he was excited after having his first interaction with the players on Tuesday morning and then overseeing a training session in the evening.

"Let me say I am thrilled and honoured to be here and meeting with the players. The enthusiasm among the players is outstanding and they are eager to do well,"

said Lawson, whose first assignment will be next month's Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa.

Pakistan started a week-long training session before leaving for Kenya where they feature in a tune-up Twenty20 event involving the hosts, Bangladesh and the United Arab Emirates.

Pakistan face Scotland in their first Twenty20 World Championship match at Durban on September 12 before taking on India at the same venue two days later. Lawson said four Pakistani players - former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, Imran Farhat and Abdul Razzaq - joining the Indian Cricket League will not have a direct affect on the rest of the squad.

But he still hoped Yousuf would have a change of mind.

"I feel there would be no direct reflection of the players joining the league because players make their decisions but I would certainly hope Yousuf has a change of mind. Yousuf is a fine player and he is not only worth it for his runs but also for his influence on the younger players,"

Lawson said of Yousuf who amassed 1788 Test runs in 2006 - a world record for most runs in a calendar year.

Lawson ruled out players' attitude, especially that of the mercurial Shoaib Akhtar, upsetting his planning.

"Coaches have problems with the attitude of the players and this goes back to 700BC and it's nothing new. I don't see Akhtar as a problem. I am a fast bowler first so I will have to deal with that,"

said Lawson who took 180 wickets in 46 Tests for Australia.

Lawson shrugged off comparisons with former team-mate Greg Chappell who had a bitter experience as Indian coach.

"I don't agree Greg Chappell had a bitter experience; he spoke positively about the Indian players and the way India have played in England shows he did a good job."


I'll join ICL if team's doors are closed on me :Afridi

LAHORE: Pakistan cricket team’s all rounder Shahid Afridi said that he may think of joining the Indian cricket league only when the doors of Pakistan cricket team will be closed on him.

In a talk with media in Lahore, Shahid Afridi said that he is the first Pakistani player to whom an offer was made to play Indian league for a huge package but he declined it just to play for the national team.

Shahid Afridi said that this country has given him the most and he at the moment cannot even think of joining the ICL.

He said that when the doors of Pakistan cricket team will be slammed on him then he will join the ICL. Because the administrators say that the players may enter into agreement with the ICL whenever they want.

Afridi said that Geoff Lawson is trying to enhance the confidence of the players and this is the initial duty of any coach.


Farhat slams selectors again

Imran Farhat launched another stinging attack against Pakistan's selectors, claiming that their bias towards him compelled him to opt out of a central contract and join the Indian Cricket League (ICL) instead.

Farhat last represented Pakistan during the Test series in South Africa; he has since been overlooked not only for the subsequent ODI series, but also the World Cup and the tours to Abu Dhabi and Scotland. He was also recently omitted from the squad for the Twenty20 World Championship after being handed a central contract.

"Instead of being appreciated, I was put in the list of Future Players Programme that caused me great mental torture. And as if this wasn't humiliating enough, the selectors called me for the Twenty20 camp in Karachi, only to drop me to give another shock,"

Farhat said.

"Despite being the top scorer at the Patron's Trophy one-day cup and in the Pentangular Cup, the selectors have been considering me as a Test player. They don't know I am also a record-holder of the national Twenty20 championship, having scored 115 in an innings of the second edition of the event in Karachi."

Farhat scored over 500 runs in last year's Pentangular Cup, four-day matches played on a league basis, with a top-score of 184 and 242 runs at a strike-rate of over 100 in the five Patron's Cup matches he took part in.

Farhat's ODI record, however, has never been convincing, with only six half-centuries and a solitary century to show from 33 matches. In his last 15 ODIs, he has scored 337 runs at an average of 24.07, with only two half-centuries.


Lawson’s presence would improve his bowling: Umar Gul

LAHORE: Fast bowler of the Pakistan cricket team Umar Gul said that he would get an opportunity of improving his bowling in the presence of Geoff Lawson.

Umar Gul said that Geoff Lawson has been a dangerous fast bowler of his times and he better understands the fundamental weaknesses of batsmen. Thus, he would get the opportunity of learning a lot in his presence.

He said that the players’ training has been started in an impressive manner and now it is up to the cricketers that how they would be benefited from it.

Umar Gul said that the Pakistan team has not much experience of Twenty20 cricket but the players are individually familiar to this type of cricket and therefore good results are expected in the World Championship.


Lawson arrives amid unrest

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Geoff Lawson arrived in Pakistan late on Monday evening to take over as their eighth different coach (12th appointment) in the last decade amid familiar unrest in Pakistan cricket.

Lawson landed to the news that four Pakistan players had signed on for the Indian Cricket League (ICL) and face the possibility of life bans for doing so. Inzamam-ul-Haq may have been nearing the end of his career, but losing Mohammad Yousuf, Abdul Razzaq and Imran Farhat, could not have the start Lawson was looking for.

Lawson, however, brushed aside the development, saying,

"I look forward to meeting the squad soon. Whatever happens, the players who turn up will count for me and not the ones who go and do something else."

Lawson is due to hold a press conference today after joining a Pakistan team training session.

Shoaib Akhtar, a "vital cog" to Pakistan according to Lawson, is also embroiled in another disciplinary battle with the board and there is speculation that another handful of Pakistan players may yet switch to the ICL.

Lawson, who took 180 wickets in a 46-Test career, was a surprise appointment last month, edging out fellow Australians Dav Whatmore and Richard Done, to replace the late Bob Woolmer.


Pakistan take 2-0 lead against England in Youth ODIs

NORTHAMPTON, England: The Pakistan Under-19s cricket team took an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the five-match Youth One-day International series, when they comfortably beat England Under-19s in the third match by 36 runs, here at the County Ground.

After being bowled out for a score of 235 runs in their full quota of 50 overs, having elected to bat first, Pakistan dismissed the hosts for a modest 199 and won with as many as four overs to spare.

England captain Rory Hamilton-Brown, with figures of 6-51 in 10 overs of off-spin, kept the visiting Pakistan team in check after the third-wicket partnership had produced an invaluable 123 runs.

The left-handed Umar Amin top-scored with 88 runs, in just over two hours off 121 balls with eight fours and a six. Usman Salahuddin assisted him ably with a knock of 63 that came off 80 balls and included three sixes.

Left-arm pace bowler Mohammad Aamer, just 15 and having great success on this England tour, captured 4-30 in eight overs to put the home team in trouble. Another star for the Pakistan team was Karachi’s all-rounder Ahmed Iqbal. Top-scorer with 40 runs in his team’s one-wicket win in the second ODI at Shenley last Friday, the right-handed batsman held the lower order together with an unbeaten 21 off only 22 balls.

Pakistan lost their last seven wickets with only 43 runs added though. Ahmed Iqbal later took two wickets with his left-arm spin to take his team nearer victory.

The tourists now play their last two Youth ODIs both at Grace Road, Leicester, on Wednesday and Thursday.


Shoaib says satisfied with PCB decision

LAHORE: Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar has expressed satisfaction over the decision of the Pakistan Cricket Board appellate committee saying that the issue could have been better solved in closed doors.

The PCB committee has set aside fine imposed by the team manager on Shoaib Akhtar on Monday and ordered a fresh inquiry into alleged breach of discipline by the bowler.
Akhtar talking to media here said that the board should give its attention to promotion of cricket in the country instead of getting involved in issuing letters.

He said he was focusing his full attention to cricket.

Akhtar said his star value has been intact and he has also received offer from the Indian Cricket League. He said the ICL men were still in contact with him, however he has decided not to play the Indian League and will be available for the national duty.


Inzamam and Yousuf head ICL list

Monday, August 20, 2007

Days of fervent speculation came to an end today with the Indian Cricket League announcing their roster of players, which included Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf and an assortment of Indian players - former interationals, domestic veterans and greenhorns. However, the organisers failed to shed any light on the details of the tournament.


Razzaq announces international retirement as protest

LONDON: Pakistan all-rounder Abdul Razzaq has announced his retirement from international cricket.

Razzaq told Geo News from London on Monday that he had decided to retire in protest over the Pakistan Cricket Board’s indifferent attitude.

"They dropped me from the Twenty20 World Cup squad and I was very upset and disappointed. But none of them bothered to call me up and tell me why I was dropped,"
the 27-year-old Razzaq said.

"Their attitude has hurt and disappointed me a lot which is why I have decided to retire from international cricket,"
he added.

“The board has not made any contact with me,”
he added.

Razzaq, who has appeared in 46 tests and 231 one-dayinternationals, denied that he had signed up to play in the ICLTwenty20 tournament, saying he had received an offer but hadyet to make a decision. Former captain, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf, ImranFarhat and Azhar Mahmood are the other four players beinglinked with the ICL. The Twenty20 World Cup is being held in South Africa fromSept. 11-24.

, giving credence to media speculation that five leading Pakistani players are set to join the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL).


No player above rules and regulations: Nasim Ashraf

NEW YORK: Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Nasim Ashraf has said that no player is above rules and regulation and if any player does not want to play, it would be his own choice.

Ashraf, who is on a visit here, told reporters that the players were fully motivated and determined to win the cup to wipe out the blot of defeat hanging over the team.

Responding to a question, he said there was no truth whatsoever in a television channel's report that somep layers had threatened to boycott the championship,saying no one had refused to go South Africa.

"However, if any one doesn't want to play, it's his choice, but if any player says that he is above the rules and regulations that would be unacceptable."


Shoaib set for fresh hearing

A fresh hearing will take place to decide Shoaib Akhtar's fate after the two-member appellate tribunal looking into two charges of indiscipline against the fast bowler set one charge aside while handing the other back to Talat Ali, the team manager.

"The charge of not appearing before a disciplinary hearing has been set aside,"

Ahsan Malik, PCB's director of communications, said.

"The other charge, of leaving the camp without permission, has been remanded back to the manager Talat Ali. He will now issue a fresh notice and there will be another hearing."

The appellate tribunal, comprising of Mueen Afzal, a member of the board's ad-hoc committee and Imtiaz Ahmed, the former Test wicketkeeper, was set up by the PCB after Shoaib appealed against his Rs 300,000 (approximately US$5000) fine for leaving the training camp without informing the management as well as failing to turn up for the disciplinary hearing.

The date for the next hearing has not yet been specified.


Rugby trainer hired to shape up Pakistan

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The PCB has hired an Australian rugby trainer as part of the support staff for Geoff Lawson. David Dwyer will join Lawson, who is due to arrive in Pakistan next week as coach, in time for next month's Twenty20 World Cup.

"We advertised the post for the trainer of the national cricket team and have finalised David Dwyer who is an accomplished name in fitness training in Australia,"

Zakir Khan, the board's director of cricket operations, told AFP.

Khan said Dwyer's experience will help boost fitness levels -- an area where Pakistan's cricketers have struggled in recent years.

"Dwyer is an experienced professional and was selected after thorough research. We have taken feedback from Lawson as well,"

said Khan of Dwyer, who will fly out to Lahore alongside Lawson to join the team next week.

Dwyer arrives on a two-year contract and will replace Murray Stevenson, the South African trainer whose contract was not renewed after Pakistan's first-round exit from the World Cup.

Pakistan begin another short training camp next week before leaving for the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup starting in South Africa from September 11. On their way they will also feature in a four-nation Twenty20 tune-up event in Kenya where the hosts, Bangladesh and United Arab Amirates are the other competing teams.


Farhat released from central contract

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Imran Farhat has been released from his central contract that he signed earlier this month by the Pakistan Cricket Board upon his request. Farhat was lured away from national commitments by a lucrative Indian Cricket League (ICL) offer prompting him to request a release.

"It's almost done and I am about to sign the deal to play in the India league,"
Farhat said, adding,
"Look what has happened to me in the past six or seven months and I am not comfortable with that. I don't only want a central contract but I want playing opportunities."

Ahsan Malik, PCB's director of communications confirmed Farhat's release.

"We have received an application from Imran Farhat in which he has asked us to terminate his central contract,"

Malik told the News.

"It is a player's right to make such a request and we have decided to release him."

Farhat has featured in 27 Tests and 33 ODIs and last played a Test against South Africa in January earlier this year. He was then omitted from the team for the World Cup, Abu Dhabi and Scotland tours while being fined by the board for a show of dissent.

The PCB has already announced life-time bans from national selection for players signing up with ICL. There are also reports that Mohammad Yousuf and Abdul Razzaq, who have yet to sign their contracts, are close to signing up with the league.

Shafqat Naghmi, PCB's chief operating officer, said that:

"Though they [Yousuf and Razzaq] have not been in touch with the board, I want to hear responses from them. The board is willing to wait for their answers as they are both too important as players to be sacrificed for deadlines."

Younis Khan, however, has already informed the board that he needs more time to sign the contract.

"Younis is yet to receive the contract which is why we have extended the deadline for its signing by a few days,"

Malik said.

"We have given the players a few more days to review the contracts before taking a decision on it."

Malik also revealed that Danish Kaneria had recently signed the contract.


Inzamam to replace Younis at Yorkshire

Inzamam-ul-Haq is set to make his county debut for Yorkshire, replacing Younis Khan who will be with the Pakistan team at the Twenty20 World Championship. The former Pakistan captain will play three four-day and as many one-day matches for the county.

"I was approached by Yorkshire county for a short stint and I have accepted it, as I see it as a great opportunity to keep my fitness for a hectic international season,"

Inzamam said.

Inzamam, who retired from ODIs after Pakistan's disastrous World Cup campaign earlier this year, was not awarded a central contract but has maintained that he still wants to play Test cricket. With the domestic season not starting before the home series against South Africa, the short county stint will provide Inzamam the perfect opportunity to prove his fitness to national selectors.

Inzamam has also been linked with a move to the Indian Cricket League. However, no confirmation of that has been received.


Abdul Razzaq asks for more time to sign Central Contract

LAHORE: Pakistan cricket team’s allrounder Abdul Razzaq will leave for England Thursday to play county cricket for Worcestershire. He has asked the Pakistan Cricket Board to allow more time for signing the central contract.

Talking with reporter Sohail Imran in Lahore, Abdul Razzaq said that after not being selected for the national team, he has decided to play county cricket to keep himself fit and for this he has signed one-year contract with Worcestershire.

Abdul Razzaq said that there is no security in Pakistan even after signing the central contract and whenever they want they expel the players from the team.

He demanded that the security of player’s income should be included in the central contract.

He said that he is consulting with his lawyer in this regard and this is why he has asked for more time to sign the central contract.

He said that he has not made any decision about playing Indian cricket league.


Imran Farhat decides to play Indian cricket league

LAHORE: Test cricketer Imran Farhat has decided to play Indian cricket league and for this he has today sent a written request to the Pakistan Cricket Board for separating him from the central contract.

Imran Farhat is disappointed with the maltreatment by the selection committee and attitude of the Board despite being declared the best batsman and fielder in the four-day tournament of the first-class cricket, and one-day contests and thus decided to play the Indian cricket league.

Sources said that Imran Farhat has sent his applications to chairman PCB Dr. Nasim Ashraf, chief operating officer Shafqat Naghmi and director cricket operation Zakir Khan in which he requested to the PCB to release him from the central contract.

According to other reports, Abdul Razzaq and Mohammad Yousuf are also considering seriously to play Indian cricket league after being dropped from the Twenty20 squad and they have begun consulting with lawyers in this regard.


Younis Khan rejects ICL offer

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Younis Khan has rejected a lucrative offer from the Indian Cricket League (ICL) and has expressed his preference of playing for Pakistan.

Younis, currently playing for Yorkshire, is also keen to be part of Pakistan's domestic season, the dates for which may clash with the ICL's planned itinerary.

"I don't run after money. To me, playing for my country is a bigger honour,"

Younis said.

"And I don't want to miss the domestic matches."

However, Asim Kamal, the Test discard who last represented Pakistan almost two years ago, is "seriously considering" an offer put forward by the league. Being out of favour even after a Test average of over 37, Kamal is close to signing that deal according to sources close to him.

"Right now the situation is I am not sure if I will ever be given a chance to play for Pakistan again. I have got an offer [from ICL] and it is a very good one. I have spoken to Inzamam-ul-Haq about it and I am giving it a serious thought because the money is very good,"

Kamal told PTI.

Younis, who is one of four players yet to sign the national contract, says that he will not be able to sign the national contract until after his return to Pakistan on August 22, thus missing the August 15 deadline set by the Pakistan board.

"Right now I am busy with county cricket and I plan to return home on August 22 after which I will consult my lawyers and only then take a decision on signing the documents."

Younis, in the aftermath of a disastrous World Cup campaign, made himself unavailable for national selection until after the county season finished at the end of September. He was, however, named in the Pakistan squad that toured Scotland and has also been named in the squad for the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship that starts on September 11.


Razzaq faces sanction for criticising PCB

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Pakistan Cricket Board has taken note of scathing comments made by Abdul Razzaq on a TV show recently, though it stopped short of saying whether any disciplinary action would be taken against him.

Razzaq told Geo TV, soon after he was dropped from Pakistan's Twenty20 squad for the World Championship, his omission was "illogical" and threatened to make himself unavailable for Pakistan.

"If this is the way I am going to be treated after serving the country honestly and diligently,"

Razzaq said,

"I should be the one now to decide when to make myself available for national selection."

Razzaq, who has taken 246 wickets and scored 4465 runs in ODIs, said he felt most hurt because no one from the board or selection committee called him to explain the decision.

"I don't know what the logic was. I am a senior player and deserve a phone call. When I was injured no one in the board bothered to call me up and find out how I was doing."

Razzaq was one of seven Pakistani players to be approached by the Indian Cricket League (ICL).

"I need to know what they have in mind but I am considering the ICL offer."

Shafqat Naghmi, the PCB's chief operating officer, told Cricinfo that some comments did constitute a breach of the code of conduct. "Criticising board policy is definitely a breach and we have taken note of the interview but have not yet decided whether to take any action.

"He has the freedom to say what he feels and certainly we understand he must have been disappointed. We are aware of it but are currently undecided over any future action to take."

Naghmi confirmed that Razzaq has now received his central contract though he hasn't indicated whether he will sign it. Until Friday, Razzaq was the only player among the 20 handed central contracts who had not been in touch with the board at all, heightening speculation that he may opt instead for the ICL.

A board official told Cricinfo, "We have got in touch with him now and he has confirmed receiving the contract. He has intimated, once his lawyer goes through it, that he will sign it." According to the official the delay was the result of a recent change in address.

The original deadline for signing the contract was August 10 but was extended by five days to accommodate other players yet to sign, including Mohammad Yousuf, Danish Kaneria and Younis Khan.

Kaneria and Younis are in England and sought extra time because of a delay in receiving their contracts. Both, however, are said to have accepted the terms and agreements in principle. Yousuf said he'd been out of Lahore and saw the contract on August 9, so needed a few days before signing it.


Yousuf set to sign central contract

Mohammad Yousuf is expected to sign his central contract with the Pakistan Cricket Board over the next few days, though uncertainty remains over the future of Abdul Razzaq, another player yet to sign the contract.

The two were surprisingly omitted from Pakistan's Twenty20 World Championship squad and coupled with the delays in signing their contracts have stirred speculation about the future of both players.

It had been suggested that the two were refusing to sign up as protest at their exclusion and even that both may take up lucrative offers with the Indian Cricket League (ICL) instead. Yousuf, however, clarified to Cricinfo that the delay on his part had only been because he received the contract late.

"I only saw the contract yesterday [Thursday]. My lawyer is going through it now and I see no problem in signing it once the lawyer has seen it, which should take a day or two,"

Yousuf said.

The PCB had set a deadline for August 10 as the last day for all players to sign their contracts but an official said that the deadline would be extended for Yousuf.

"He had been away for the last few days and there was no communication but now he has informed us that his lawyer is going over the contract. There should not be a problem in giving him a couple of extra days to go over it and inform us of his decision,"

the official said.

The situation for Razzaq is not so straightforward. Despite repeated attempts, the board has not been able to contact him to get an answer. Additionally, Razzaq's comments on a TV show recently, where he attacked the board and the selectors for his exclusion, have strained relations.

"We have heard nothing from Razzaq at all. Today is officially the last day for signing up but in cases, as with Yousuf, we can extend it. But that is only if there is some communication,"

said the official.

When asked what that meant for Razzaq's future, the official said,

"In light of his comments on a TV show recently and his refusal to get in touch, despite repeated attempts from our side, it could be a tough situation. You can draw your own conclusions about his future from that."

However, in what appeared to be a late climbdown, the board issued a statement saying the four players had been given an extended deadline - until August 15 - to sign their contracts.

"Abdul Razzaq and Mohammad Yousuf received the contracts only a day before due to their unavailability. PCB has extended the date for signing the contracts for these four players {including Younis and Kaneria} in order to give them enough time to review before signing. They can now sign their contracts by August 15, 2007."

Razzaq, unavailable for comment, was said to be one of seven Pakistan players approached by the ICL; if he doesn't sign up with Pakistan, it will only increase speculation that he may sign up with the ICL.

Younis Khan and Danish Kaneria are the only others who haven't officially signed the contracts but they have informed the board that they have accepted the terms and conditions. Both are currently playing county cricket in England and are expected to sign the contracts soon.


Inzamam suggests he might join ICL

Inzamam-ul-Haq has indicated that he might sign up for the Indian Cricket League (ICL), saying the ultimatum issued by the Pakistan Cricket Board does not apply to him as he isn't under contract with the board.

Inzamam, who was not among those given a central contract by the PCB last month, said he had been offered US$50,000 a month by the ICL. He was writing in his diary on bigstarcricket.com.

"If they [PCB] are not selecting me I have a right to play cricket anywhere, whether in county cricket, Bangladesh, or India,"

Inzamam said on the website.

"But I'm not interested in only money, I'm interested in playing cricket".

"The ICL is offering me good money and cricket. I have not played any cricket since the World Cup. Although I am still desperate to play for Pakistan it is not good for me if I get picked for Test cricket with no match practice behind me. There is no cricket in Pakistan before the South Africa series so I need to play."

Inzamam said he would want to play for Pakistan even if he signs for the ICL.

"I would like to play in India and then as soon as my country needs me I would come back for national duty."


Shoaib fined for training camp exit

Shoaib Akhtar has been fined US$5000 by the Pakistan board for two breaches of the players' code of conduct.

According to Shafqat Naghmi, the PCB's chief operating officer, Shoaib left the fitness and training camp in Karachi early and without permission.

"Today also he was asked to appear before the disciplinary committee of the board but he didn't show up,"

Nagmi said.

"He has also been docked 1.5 points from the total of 20 points available to the players for discipline in their central contracts."

Akhtar, who left the camp complaining of a stiff neck, was named in Pakistan's 15-man squad yesterday for the Twenty20 World Championship and will make his long-awaited return to international cricket after being sidelined due to a drugs ban and various injuries.


Yousuf and Razzaq omitted from Twenty20

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Fawad Alam, who had a phenomenal domestic Twenty20 tournament last year that included a half-century and a five-wicket haul in the final, has been included

Mohammad Yousuf and Abdul Razzaq have been omitted from the 15-man squad for the Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa.

Misbah-ul-Haq, back in the side after three years in the wilderness, and Fawad Alam, the talented young allrounder, have been chosen as replacements while left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman, who took a hat-trick in the last of the practice matches in Karachi, also makes a comeback.

"Mohammad Yousuf is a world-class player. However, we have decided to give him a break because we want him fit and fresh for the following series and include some new faces for the South Africa tour,"

Salahuddin Ahmed, chief selector, said.

Yousuf was not disappointed at being left out of the team and was confident that it would not affect his long-term future.

"Selection was in God's hands and I can't force myself into the team."

When asked if he felt he could perform in this format of the game, Yousuf said:

"You will have to ask the selectors".

While Misbah has not represented Pakistan for over three years, his record in the shortest version of the game, including an unbeaten century, impressed the selectors. Alam, the left-arm all-rounder, also had a phenomenal domestic Twenty20 tournament last year that included a half- century and a five-wicket haul in the final.

Shoaib Akhtar, who left the field during one of the practice matches due to dehydration and missed the following matches due to a neck strain, has been included in the lineup.

"I can assure you that Shoaib Akhtar has recovered from the neck strain and is now fully fit."

The other notable absentees include Mohammad Sami and Yasir Hameed. While Sami's performance has improved of late, Yasir Arafat, who has had an impressive season with Kent, was preferred.

"We have noted Sami's performance recently and decided to omit him and bring in Yasir Arafat, the allrounder, in the team at the back of his impressive performance for Kent."

Pakistan kick off their campaign against Scotland on September 13.

Squad: Shoaib Malik (capt), Younis Khan, Imran Nazir, Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif, Shoaib Akthar, Kamran Akmal, Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Gul, Shahid Afridi, Iftikhar Anjum, Fawad Alam, Abdur Rehman, Yasir Arafat, Misbah-ul-Haq


Peshawar likely to lose out on ODI

Monday, August 6, 2007

Security concerns might lead to Peshawar being axed from the itinerary

The PCB is considering shifting an ODI from Peshawar to Lahore during the forthcoming home series against South Africa, citing poor facilities as the reason behind the move. The venue change has been considered even though the Australian or South African boards have not expressed safety concerns about the venues.

"The PCB did not receive any information either from South Africa or Australia showing any intention for the postponement of the tour or showing any kind of concern about security, but the PCB can shift the match from Peshawar because of poor facilities at the Arbab Niaz Stadium,"

Shafqat Naghmi, PCB chief operating officer, told Dawn.

"I am going to Peshawar on Monday to inspect the facilities available at the stadium, after which we will take a final decision in this regards,"

he said.

There have been contradicting reports regarding the change of venue in recent days. Some officials have privately said security concerns from the tourists remains the main reason behind the move, though others acknowledge that the stadium is in no fit shape to host an ODI. The Arbab Niaz Stadium was recommended unfit to hold an international match after Pakistan hosted India last year due to its poor administrative and security set-up.

If not Lahore, then Karachi, which is already hosting a warm-up match and the first Test match, might gain from the shift. South Africa are scheduled to start the tour from September 26 and will play two Tests and five ODIs in all.


Players can play Indian league after it gets ICC approval: Nasim Ashraf

KARACHI: Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Dr. Nasim Ashraf cleared that he would not stop the cricketers to play Indian league but they would no more be eligible to represent Pakistan in case of playing Indian cricket league (ICL).

Talking with media during the training camp of the national team at the National Stadium, Karachi, Dr. Nasim Ashraf said that the Indian cricket league has no importance and only the former players are participating in it.

He said that this event has not been approved by the ICC and if the ICC approves it then the PCB may also reconsider its policy.

He said that the players participating in the Indian cricket league would not be authorized to represent Pakistan in future.

According to reports, the ICL has offered heavy packages to many Pakistani players after which the PCB is likely to revise the packages given to players under central contract.

Nasim Ashraf said that the announcement of the national team for Twenty20 Cricket World Cup will be made after getting the dope test report.

Dr. Nasim Ashraf said that it has not been decided about the assistant coach that whether he should be local or foreigner. However, the decision will only be made after August 15, the deadline for receiving the applications.


Unfit Shoaib Akhtar, Abdul Razzaq leave for Lahore

LAHORE: Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar and all rounder Abdul Razzaq, being unfit, left the training camp in Karachi for Lahore. The camp is being held in Karachi for the preparation of Twenty20 World Cup.

Participating in the training camp, Shoaib Akhtar developed ache while Abdul Razzaq is suffering from viral infection. Both left Karachi for Lahore on Saturday.

On the other hand, chairman Pakistan Cricket Board Dr. Nasim Ashraf said that the rejection of the Indian League offer by the Pakistani cricketers is promising.

According to Nasim Ashraf, Shahid Afridi, Younus Khan, Mohammad Asif and Shoaib Akhtar rejected the Indian League offer.


Condolences on sad demise of Wasim Bari's Father

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The management and officials of Pakistan Cricket Blog express their deep sorrow on the sad demise of former chairman of selectors PCB and former wicket keeper Mr Wasim Bari’s father. Pakistan Cricket Blog fully shares Mr Bari’s grief and prays that his father’s soul rests in peace.

May Allah Almighty give him and his family strength to bear this huge loss


Pakistan's Inzamam set for rebel series

Former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq said Monday he was set to join a multi-million-dollar breakaway cricket series in India, as officials warned it could end his Test career.

Inzamam, 37, who retired from one-day cricket in March after Pakistan's first-round exit from the World Cup, said he is in talks with the organisers of the Indian Cricket League (ICL).

The rebel series is being promoted by India's largest listed media group, Zee Telefilms.

"I was contacted by the ICL people when I was in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia last week and since I am not under a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) contract I see it as an opportunity,"

Inzamam said.

Inzamam was not among the 20 players who were given central contracts last month. The PCB has already announced it will not allow its contracted players to feature in the series.

Inzamam said the league would give him much-needed practice.

"There is no international cricket to get the required match practice and I think by joining this league I will get an opportunity to get that and play Test cricket whenever I get a chance,"

said Inzamam.

"I will only decide after seeing the terms and conditions. My top priority is still to get 10,000 runs in Test cricket and to play for Pakistan,"

said Inzamam.

But Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Nasim Ashraf said any player joining the league would be ruled out of future internationals.

"Our position on the breakaway Indian league is clear and firm. Since it (league) is not approved by the ICC any player joining it will not be considered for future selection,"

Ashraf said without mentioning Inzamam's name.

"No current player will be allowed to sign the league and all cricket boards of the world have this same stance."

If the burly Inzamam, currently on 8,813 Test runs, joins he will be the second big star to sign up after West Indian maestro Brian Lara.

The organisers have also targeted Test cricket's highest wicket-taker Shane Warne and a host of other international players, including New Zealand's Stephen Fleming.

The ICL, officially unveiled by Zee supremo Subhash Chandra in May this year, features six teams, each featuring four international players, two Indian stars and eight up-and-coming cricketers playing Twenty20 matches across India.

Ashraf said most of the players joining the league had either retired or have one or two years of international cricket left.

"You can judge by their signing, only those players who have retired or on the verge of retiring have signed,"

he said.

"Even those who have signed as officials like Kapil Dev and Kiran More, they too have resigned from their official posts."

The dates and venues for the series, which has not been recognised by the International Cricket Council (ICC) or the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), have yet to be announced.

The ICL, which carries a winner's purse of one million dollars, in many ways resembles late Australian TV mogul Kerry Packer's World Cricket Series that took on the establishment in 1977.

Packer roped in the world's top players for the rebel series after being denied official TV rights by the Australian Cricket Board for matches played in the country.

Will Pakistan Premier League gain success just like Indian Premier League ?