Pakistan's most successful domestic tournament, the ABN-AMRO Twenty20, has been postponed till August following scheduling problems.
The tournament has yet to find a set date or location in the domestic calendar, despite being the biggest crowd-puller in recent years: the first edition was held in April-May 2005, then in February 2006 and finally in December 2006. The finals of the tournament have regularly attracted crowds of over 30,000 in Lahore and Karachi, the two venues where the tournament has been held.
"The tournament this year is likely to be played in August," said Shafqat Naghmi, the PCB's chief operating officer. "We had a number of international commitments and top players wouldn't be available for it during then. In July the weather won't be right, so we have planned it for August."
It is understood that the sponsors, ABN-AMRO, also prefer that month as it would mean all of Pakistan's top players are available then for what is the showpiece tournament of their sponsorship to cricket.
This also means, as Naghmi acknowledged, that plans for a Pakistan Premier League (PPL) will be shelved until next year. "The PPL will not happen till next year but we are keen on inviting foreign players to that as well." But as a source close to the sponsors has pointed out, the current format for the Twenty20 is not much different to the proposed PPL.
"We already have a city-based system for the tournament and our original idea three years ago, as well as that of the PCB, was to find sponsors so that they could make the teams franchises, much as the IPL has done," the official. "This format can be worked into the PPL."
It is not yet clear whether any teams from Pakistan will take part in the Champions League, details of which have been informally firmed up over the last few weeks. However various boards, including Pakistan's, were involved in those discussions, suggesting that sides from Pakistan might participate. In that case, as the PPL will not start until next year, it is likely that the top two teams from the domestic Twenty20 will be invited.