Pakistan's ICL recruits have finally restarted a legal process to fight the bans imposed on them by the PCB from playing domestic and international cricket. A letter has been sent by the legal firm of retired judge Fakhruddin G Ebrahim to the PCB on behalf of the players. Currently, however, the communication is not "a legal notice", a board official said.
"No legal action is being taken just yet but we have received a letter from the firm," the official told Cricinfo. "The letter asks us why we have banned them and under what rules."
The board has not responded yet, though it is understood the issue will be brought up at the ICC executive board meeting due to take place in Perth on January 31. Only after a clearer picture emerges from there will they respond to the queries.
The move comes more than a year after a group of ICL players, led by Imran Farhat and Taufeeq Umar, first attempted to take the matter to court. They started the process towards the end of 2007 but it then petered out. The process has started again, said a prominent ICL player, because the environment is ripe for it.
"We tried doing it in 2007 but Nasim Ashraf [the then PCB chairman] had too many connections in the government of the time," the player told Cricinfo. "Whenever we did something or tried, it would come up against a dead end because Ashraf would use his friends in power to stop proceedings. So we decided to just wait it out till the government changed. Now it has and so has the administration and we feel, from the comments they have made, that we can progress this time."
The current board administration under Ijaz Butt has been far more ambiguous about the ban on the players than the one under Ashraf and seems far more willing to look for ways out of the situation. Pakistan has 19 players in the ICL - some of them, like Abdul Razzaq and Mohammad Yousuf, still good enough to play for the country.
Javed Miandad, the PCB's director-general, has openly called for the bans to be removed claiming they hurt Pakistan and are only in place to appease BCCI interests. Butt, however, has been vague and often confused over the stance. He insists it is up to the ICC to resolve the matter and that the PCB does not want to ban the players.
"We don't want our players to be banned because they have contracts with the ICL," Butt said on a TV show two weeks ago. "But unfortunately we can't do anything unless the ICC changes its stance on this issue.
"The PCB has not directly banned the players, We have banned them under the ICC rules," he said. "The rules state that no tournament can be held without the home board's permission and, in the case of the ICL, the Indian board [BCCI] does not recognise it as it runs its own league, the IPL."
Board officials have been examining legal aspects of the case since before the letter was sent to fully brief Butt before he attends the Perth meeting. The letter has been sent on behalf of almost all of Pakistan's 19 ICL players and Moin Khan, coach of the ICL's Lahore Badshahs team, is believed to be handling the matter as a representative of sorts.