The head of Pakistan’s cricket board yesterday offered foreign players insurance worth US$2 million and up to US$100,000 tax free income in a bid to lure them to join the country’s new Twenty20 league.
The world professional cricketers’ union has warned players against taking part in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), due to start in March, because of the “unmanageable” security risk.
Pakistan is struggling with a Islamist insurgency and suffers bombings and shootings on an almost daily basis. No international cricket has been played in the country since militants attacked the Sri Lankan team bus during a Test match in Lahore in 2009.
Zaka Ashraf, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), said they were ready to offer insurance to any player wishing to tour the country.
“It’s extra security and optional for the players if they want to take it for the satisfaction of their families,” Ashraf said. “It will be worth US$2 million and above all tax free income for all.”
Ashraf said he was determined to revive home internationals, but the PCB faces a tough challenge. Twice in the past 12 months Bangladesh have agreed to a tour only to dash Pakistani hopes by changing their minds due to security fears.
Players stand to earn between US$25,000 and US$100,000 for taking part in the two-week tournament under the wage structure the PCB announced on Wednesday.
Haroon Lorgat, an adviser to the PSL, said on Wednesday in Lahore that the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association’s (FICA) doubts over security in Pakistan “doesn’t help the confidence of some players,” but “fortunately there are many [players] who have already committed “to play in the league, which starts March 26.”
FICA chief executive Tim May told the BBC on Tuesday that he has advised its members to avoid playing in the PSL on security grounds and he thinks the majority of international cricketers “will heed our advice.”
However, Lorgat said he knew the security situation in Pakistan much better after touring Lahore for the fourth time over the last two months to assist the PCB in organizing the PSL.
“We know what the challenges are, it’s reality, but we will come over those challenges,” he said.
While venues for the event have yet to be finalized, Lorgat hinted that some games might be staged in Lahore, the capital of the Punjab province and the city where the Sri Lankan team came under attack four years ago.
“I’m sure government in Punjab would do all it can that the event is safe,” he said.
PCB chief executive officer Subhan Ahmed said his board does not recognize FICA.
“So when we don’t endorse them, it makes no sense to go into discussions with them,” he said. “As far as we are concerned we have no direct relationship with FICA.”