Pakistan mull county cricket restrictions

Monday, January 21, 2008

Pakistan will consider the toll county cricket takes on its players before deciding on whether or not to allow their bowlers, in particular, to take up future contracts.

Pakistan's fast bowlers have been plagued by injury in recent years, preventing the selection of what would be a first-choice attack. Not all of the injuries have come from playing county cricket, but the board worries that an excessive workload could adversely affect their resources. In recent years, Mohammad Asif, Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Yasir Arafat have turned out for various counties.

"We have to look at the effects of county cricket on our players' fitness,"

Nasim Ashraf, chairman of the PCB, told reporters at the National Stadium in Karachi.

"Even some spinners have come back from their seasons completely fatigued and that is not good for Pakistan."

Danish Kaneria is the only active Pakistan spinner currently with a county contract and he has one season left with Essex on his current deal. Since coming back from the last season, Kaneria has struggled for impact in two Test series against South Africa and India. He bowled nearly 561 overs in the County Championship alone, in 13 matches.

The Pakistan board prevented Umar Gul and Mohammad Asif from taking up county contracts in 2007, though it later compensated both financially for the loss of earnings. It has also prevented Rao Iftikhar Anjum from taking up a contract for 2008. Ashraf did not say, however, whether players - if prevented - would be compensated in the future.

"In the past Pakistan players used to play county cricket because the financial rewards at home were not so high. That is not needed now because we are in a position to pay our players handsomely and they don't need to look abroad,"

said Ashraf.

A final decision on the matter will be taken when the board's governing committee meets in Karachi on January 25.

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