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Pakistan Super League may poach county cricketers after schedule change
Cricket Sport

Pakistan Super League may poach county cricketers after schedule change

English counties face losing more of their leading homegrown talents during the first two months of next season – and potentially in years to come – amid a proposal for the ­Pakistan Super League (PSL) to run concurrently with the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The 10-team IPL is the only franchise T20 league to overlap with the start of the County Championship in April and May, with this year’s edition seeing 12 English players among the 80 overseas slots – fewer than one for each county.

But the staging of the next Champions Trophy in Pakistan in February 2025 will mean the six-team PSL runs from 7 April to 20 May, opening up a further 42 well-paid overseas slots in franchise cricket during the first two months of the English season.

Already a popular destination for English cricketers during the off-­season – 16 featured in the most recent edition of the PSL – ­coexisting with the IPL will also impact the recruitment of overseas players for the County Championship, an already tough, congested market that has seen an increase in short-term deals during recent seasons.

According to a report by ­ESPNCricinfo, the Pakistan Cricket Board could even make the overlap permanent. With their own players barred from the IPL, the main battle would be for foreign signatures. The PSL is also expected to expand from six to eight teams by 2026, thus opening up 14 further overseas berths.

Under the current regulations, any English players wishing to compete in overseas T20 leagues require a no objection certificate from either the England and Wales Cricket Board (if centrally contracted) or their county. While clauses for the IPL already exist in county contracts – along with agreed compensation – clubs could in theory block a player wishing to miss the start of the first-class season for the PSL.

However, this could in turn trigger full-blown white-ball specialism for many more than just the handful at present, not least among those just below international level or solely in the England white-ball setup. Franchise leagues now appear with enough regularity that players can bounce from one to the next, not least since the arrival of the USA’s Major League Cricket in July and the ­Hundred in August.

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The decision from county players to prioritise franchise opportunities has become a thorny issue in recent times. Last summer saw a number of English clubs voice concerns that contracted players were simply using their grounds for injury rehabilitation and training, with their county appearances becoming increasingly fleeting.

Source: theguardian.com