PCB takes a u-turn, players allowed to return to CPL and counties

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PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD - AUGUST 07: In this handout image provided by CPL T20, Shadab Khan (C) and Dwayne Bravo (L) of Trinbago Knight Riders celebrates the dismissal of Andre Fletcher (R) of St Lucia Stars during Match 6 of the 2017 Hero Caribbean Premier League between St Lucia Stars and Trinbago Knight Riders at Queen's Park Oval on August 7, 2017 in Port of Spain, Trinidad. (Photo by Randy Brooks - CPL T20 via Getty Images)

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has now had a change of heart once again and in what is being seen as a U-turn from their original plan, the board has once again allowed players recalled from the Caribbean Premier League and the English county circuit to return to their respective franchises, a few days after first revoking the No-Objection Certificates.

The original plan was that the players will have to undergo fitness tests from August 22-24 as part of the PCB’s training camp that begins on August 22, however, the fact that the players will be allowed to return is a positive move on their part. The path to the return was cleared after the Pakistan board chairman Najam Sethi announced that the domestic T20 competition, that had compelled the board to revoke the players’ NOCs, had been rescheduled for November, following official confirmation of the World XI series in Lahore.

“The World XI series was not officially confirmed when we set the dates for our domestic tournament,” Sethi said in a press conference. “That series falls right in the middle of when our competition would have been played. Then there’s a by-election [on September 17 on the seat of now-disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif], and after that the team has to go to the UAE, so the competition was squeezed out. As a result, we have moved it to November. An added advantage of this arrangement is that our players who are taking part in the CPL and other county will be able to take full part in those tournaments. This will make the players happy too, as well as the CPL.”

The decision to revoke the NOCs of 13 players participating in the CPL and the English domestic circuit had taken many by surprise, with the affected counties reportedly frustrated at the players’ recalls. Mohammad Amir was an exception to the clause as Essex had made a special request to let him return for their remaining matches. However, now that applies to all the players away on tour. It was reported by ESPNcricinfo that the senior members of the Pakistan team management, too, were unhappy with the initial move.

What they said earlier

The board had initially given 10 players, including seven centrally contracted cricketers, permission to play the entire Caribbean Premier League – which began on August 4 and runs until September 9. Three cricketers without central contracts – Kamran Akmal, Sohail Tanvir and Mohammad Sami – were also asked to return after they were selected by Rawalpindi, Faisalabad and Lahore Whites for the National T20 Cup.

The same notices went out to Mohammad Amir, who was to stay with Essex until September, Sarfraz Ahmed, who was to play five games for Yorkshire in the NatWest T20 Blast, and Fakhar Zaman, who was set to join Somerset until the end of the season. It is also being said, by Pakistani fans in particular that this u-turn was taken in order to maintain good relations with the boards who have favoured the idea of touring Pakistan.