KARACHI // The suspended batsman Mohammad Yousuf criticised the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) today for banning players competing in the non-sanctioned Indian Cricket League (ICL), saying it was jeopardising the future of the sport. "Why are they ruining the future of Pakistan cricket?" Yousuf asked reporters. "There are players in the ICL like Imran Farhat, Imran Nazir and Mohammad Sami, who can still play for Pakistan."
Yousuf is also in a money dispute with the PCB, which is demanding he return 10 million rupees (Dh750,000) they spent on the batsman's legal case in India involving his contract negotiations with rival Twenty20 leagues. "What I fail to understand is that the PCB is not worried about the future of Pakistan cricket and its players, it is only worried about the money," Yousuf said.
The PCB suspends all Pakistan players who play in the ICL. Abdul Razzaq, Rana Naved, Taufiq Umar and Hasan Raza are the other Pakistani cricketers who have been banned by the PCB for joining the rebel league. Yousuf returned from India today a day after his team Lahore Badshahs - led by the former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq - defeated the Hyderabad Heroes in the ICL final. Yousuf, a veteran of 79 Tests and 269 one-day internationals, rejoined the ICL earlier this month, prompting the PCB to suspend him. Yousuf signed for the ICL last year, but the PCB convinced him not to play in the rebel Twenty20 competition so that he could continue playing for the national team.
"The previous (cricket) board misguided me by saying that I could not play for Pakistan if I joined ICL," Yousuf said. He later tried to join the officially sanctioned Indian Premier League (IPL), a Twenty20 competition which is supported by the Board of Control for Cricket in India, but the ICL blocked the move by filing a breach of contract case in an Indian court. "The previous board also told me that it would look after all the court cases," Yousuf said.
Yousuf's differences with the board and the team management began last year when he was dropped from the first Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa. Yousuf, scorer of 6,770 runs in Test matches and 9,242 runs in one-day internationals, was also not happy with the attitude of the Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik. "I have nothing personal against him, but in the Pakistan team the senior players are not given due respect," he said. "I was never consulted in any cricketing matter while on the other hand look at (Indian captain Mahendra Singh) Dhoni, how well he takes along all the senior and junior players."
Yousuf insisted that he could still play all the three forms of the game - Tests, one-day and Twenty20 - for another two to three years. "I am among the top in both Test and one-day cricket rankings so how can someone say I am not fit for Twenty20 cricket," Yousuf said. He is currently ranked third in the International Cricket Council's Test rankings behind the West Indies' Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara. In 50-overs-a-side cricket, Yousuf is ranked eighth.