Yousuf braces himself for arbitration hearing

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Mohammad Yousuf will have legal counsel representing him at the next arbitration hearing in Mumbai examining his pull-out from the Indian Cricket League (ICL). The representation will be arranged by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for the hearing on January 24.

Yousuf initially signed up with the ICL after being dropped from Pakistan's squad for the World Twenty20 last September. Soon after, however, he was convinced by the PCB to turn his back on the ICL, represent Pakistan and also sign up the Indian Premier League (IPL), a rival circuit officially sanctioned by the BCCI.

Organisers of the ICL have insisted that Yousuf cannot renege on his contract and appear for the IPL and sent him a legal notice last year, which prompted the arbitration hearing. However, Yousuf or any representation, failed to appear at the last hearing in Mumbai in December.

"There is another hearing on January 24 in Mumbai and we are keen for them to hear Yousuf's side of the story before they take any decisions,"

Nasim Ashraf, the PCB chairman, said.

"This is an arbitration hearing trying to mediate in this dispute, not a court of law. They issued a hearing without listening to Yousuf's version last time and we want to make sure that doesn't happen this time. We will have legal representation at the next hearing."

At the same time, the board has also filed a petition in the Lahore High Court, arguing that the dispute should be heard in Lahore, where Yousuf is based and where the contract was signed.

Ashraf also said that the board was considering the cases of other players who played in the ICL and are, for the moment, barred from playing domestic cricket in Pakistan. Former Pakistan openers Imran Farhat and Taufeeq Umar, as well as Shabbir Ahmed, played in the ICL recently and the PCB has subsequently prevented them from playing domestic cricket.

The players have gone to court challenging the ban but Ashraf said the court had dismissed the petition. Farhat and Umar were prevented from playing in the just-concluded Quaid-e-Azam trophy final for Habib Bank. But their futures will now be discussed at the board's governing committee meeting on January 25 and there appears a chance the domestic ban might be revoked.

"We will look at their cases, but I want to reiterate that they all had an opportunity to play for Pakistan,"

Ashraf said.

"Some of them [Farhat] even had central contracts but they handed them back and chose to play there. That is their choice certainly for the contracts are lucrative, but we are also now paying players well when they play for regions.

"The players should be asked why they chose that option, but we would like to move forward from the matter now. We don't want a confrontation with any of them."

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