Pakistan have delayed the announcement of their preliminary list of 30 probables for the Champions Trophy after the selection committee and the governing board could not meet to finalise the selection. Though the selectors had already sent a list of 30 names, four players require the approval of a board committee as they are not on the list of 26 players with central contracts or retainerships. Confusion over the eligibility of Shoaib Akhtar, who is on the list, has also caused the delay.
The announcement was meant to be made yesterday in accordance with ICC deadlines, but is now going to be made on Monday, for which the ICC has granted clearance. "We have a policy or a vision for the first year to concentrate mostly on the 26 players we are paying a monthly salary or retainer to," Shafqat Naghmi, chief operating officer,
"This pool numbers 26 and we needed 30," he added. "We had also decided that if any extraordinary talent outside this pool emerges, then we have men like Mudassar Nazar, Aaqib Javed and Haroon Rasheed at the academy who spot this talent. So anytime selectors pick outside this 26, a committee headed by Zakir Khan needs to just approve that these are the guys we should pick. That was scheduled for this morning but couldn't happen and will now happen on Monday."
The other issue that should be resolved on Monday is that of Shoaib. It is learnt that Shoaib's inclusion in the list was even approved by Nasim Ashraf, the board chairman, but as the fast bowler has yet to clear the Rs 7 million fine, he cannot be named in any list of probables. Shoaib was banned for five years by the board in April for various acts of indiscipline.
He appealed against the ban to an appellate tribunal which reduced it to 18 months but imposed a fine of seven million rupees on him. The bowler then filed a petition to the Lahore High Court against the ban and fine last month. The court suspended the ban but refused to clear the fine until the case is taken up for regular hearing in September. The board's legal opinion suggests that Shoaib will become eligible after he pays the fine.
"We got the written court order today," Naghmi said. "They suspended the ban but not the fine. We have asked our lawyer whether Shoaib becomes eligible after paying the fine and the lawyer believes that is the case. We've sent a letter to Shoaib to pay the fine by Monday."
The board, it is believed however, is willing to be flexible on the issue of payment. It is unlikely that Shoaib will miss out on inclusion because of non-payment and the board might give him time till the announcement of the final 15 to pay off the fine.
As well as Shoaib, Mohammad Asif has also been included in the 30-man list though his final status is also subject to the findings of a PCB committee on his recent detention in Dubai. The fast bowler was held back at Dubai airport for 19 days on his way back from India, allegedly after he was caught with a recreational drug by airport authorities.
The three-man committee, which includes Naghmi, Zakir and Nadeem Akram, will begin its work from Monday, after receiving documents related to the case from Dubai.