After the IPL snub, Pakistan suffered fresh humiliation when their domestic T20 champions, Sialkot Stallions, were not picked for the Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20), to be held in South Africa in September.
The CLT20 governing council on Monday announced the names of the ten teams that will participate in the tournament's second edition.
Despite being eligible, Pakistan were not invited to participate. Teams from India, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the West Indies will compete in the $2.5 million event from September 10-26.
“We were hoping to get an invitation for the Champions League this year, but that is not to be it seems. The Stallions were ready to participate and we were looking forward to it,” Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman, Ijaz Butt, told HT on Monday.
The Stallions had qualified for the inaugural CLT20 in 2008, but it got deferred due to the Mumbai terror attacks. The following year, the event was held in India and no team from Pakistan was invited due to troubled ties between the two countries.
Things were looking up this year when Pakistan cricketers were given visa clearance to play in IPL III (though they couldn’t play) and their hockey team participated in the World Cup in India.
The PCB chairman had confirmed to the Hindustan Times that, if invited, the Stallions were ready to participate. Though the Champions League dates clashed with Pakistan’s tour of England, he had assured it wouldn’t stop the Stallions from fielding a full side.
On Monday, Butt called the snub “scandalous” and found no reason to be left out, especially when the event was not being held in India.
“I am constantly surprised by this treatment meted out to our cricketers. IPL did the same thing to us, we ran from pillar to post to get the paper work done, the Indian sports minister so willingly helped us, but finally no one got picked in the auction. This is absolutely scandalous. There is no reason for them to ignore us like that,” said Butt.
“Even last year we didn’t get an invite for the Champions League. We tried to enquire about the situation but there was no response. How can one judge us without sending an invite?” he wondered.
The PCB chairman hoped these were not signs of Pakistan being isolated and vowed to take up the issue in the next ICC meeting.
“We will definitely take up this issue with the ICC. This is unfair treatment to one of the senior members of the ICC.”
The CLT20 is an initiative of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Cricket Australia (CA) and Cricket South Africa (CSA).
When contacted, BCCI secretary, N Srinivasan, refused to offer an explanation.
“Even last year Pakistan was not invited. This is nothing new. Why this sudden affinity for Pakistan?” he said. IPL vice-chairman, Niranjan Shah, too, skirted the issue, saying: “It's a government issue. I can't comment on it.”
Ten teams for CLT20
The teams have been reduced from 12 to 10 this year as the dates clashed with the end of the English domestic season. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had already tweaked its domestic calendar to accommodate the inaugural Champions League, which was originally scheduled for October.
But the tournament was brought forward to accommodate India's home series against Australia this year.
Despite fewer teams, the number of matches remains unchanged (23) with the format, schedule and venues to be decided in the coming weeks.