The inaugural edition of the International League T20 (ILT20), which took place from January 13 to February 12 this year, saw the absence of Pakistani players. The UAE-based league offered a lucrative sum of USD 450,000 for the first season, with the organizers ready to offer star players such as Shaheen Afridi, Babar Azam, and Mohammad Rizwan up to USD 900,000. In addition to the mentioned trio, Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Hasnain were also approached by various franchises for participation in the first season. However, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) did not grant permission to any of its players to participate in the league.
The players were informed that they could only join the ILT20 during periods when they were not engaged with the Pakistan Super League (PSL) or national team duties. Former PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja had even requested compensation from the Emirates Cricket Board in exchange for releasing the players for the league. However, the current PCB chief, Najam Sethi, holds a more flexible stance regarding the ILT20. During a meeting of the PSL governing council, Sethi expressed that it would be difficult to prevent Pakistani players from participating, as the players themselves were considering forming an association to protect their rights.
Sethi believes that the PCB has maintained positive relations with the UAE and, based on the principle of reciprocity, negotiations can be held. One suggestion put forward was to commence the next season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Dubai to generate excitement and attract international players. However, PSL franchise owners disagree with this proposal, as they believe that releasing Pakistani players and strengthening the ILT20 would have a detrimental impact on the PSL.
Sources indicate that if the current administration remains in place for the next three years, Pakistani cricketers may be seen participating in the ILT20. The situation will depend on the ongoing negotiations and the stance adopted by the PCB regarding the league. The potential inclusion of Pakistani players in the ILT20 could contribute to the league’s growth and offer players additional opportunities to showcase their skills on the global stage.