This year’s Abu Dhabi T10 could be boosted by the Pakistan Cricket Board’s decision to permit their players to play in twice as many leagues than in recent years.
The PCB announced on Friday that “all centrally contracted players may seek clearance for up to a maximum of four leagues, including the HBL Pakistan Super League”.
Since 2018, they had been able to apply for release for just two, including the country’s own competition, the PSL.
Last November, no Pakistan players featured in the 10-over league in the UAE capital.
Their absence was despite the fact the PCB had initially issued no objection certificates for them to play in the event.
Mohammed Amir was the first pick in the draft, while many other players were signed to lucrative contracts for the 10-day long competition.
Between them, the players suffered over $1 million (Dh 3.6m) in lost earnings after the NOCs were revoked, with Amir himself having to pass up a contract worth $45,000 to play for Team Abu Dhabi.
Qalandars, a team representing the Lahore-based PSL franchise of the same name, were eventually forced to take the field in Abu Dhabi without any Pakistani players at all.
Despite that, the competition was seen as a success, with the television broadcast audience reportedly up, including significantly so in India, than in the two previous seasons.
The altered PCB policy does not guarantee Pakistani involvement in the T10, though, with the board still able to rule on whether the players could play in the UAE competition or not.
Shaji Ul Mulk, the founder and chairman of the Abu Dhabi T10, says he is hopeful an agreement can be reached that would see Pakistan players involved in the 2020 season.
However, he acknowledged the sole concern for everyone involved is the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are in talks at the moment and we are hopeful of getting the Pakistan players for the T10,” Ul Mulk said.
“Of course, though, all of our priority is with dealing with the current crisis.
"We want to make sure everything is safe, and we will resume our talks in due course.”
The PCB are also understood to be looking into the possibility of rescheduling the final phase of the PSL for some point in November, which could clash with part of the T10.
The T20 competition was called off after it had reached the semifinal stage, on health advice after Alex Hales, the Karachi Kings batsman, had reported symptoms typical of coronavirus.
The management of the Pakistan national team will also be able to rule on whether the players can feature, “with respect to player workload and international commitments” according to the PCB.
They also stated that players who have been retired for 24 months or more – such as Shahid Afridi – will be issued NOCs “unless there are compelling reasons which the PCB will have to provide in writing”.
“I think this is a flexible, balanced and comprehensive NOC policy which addresses as many of the likely scenarios that we will face,” Wasim Khan, the PCB chief executive, said.
“We have given primacy and importance to player workload, international and domestic commitments.
“But at the same time it was important that players are given the opportunities to make additional earnings and develop their skills around the world.
“I am optimistic that moving forward, all the relevant stakeholders will have clarity and a better understanding of the process.
“To ensure that we maintain our relationships with cricket boards around the world, once granted, NOCs will only be revoked if there are any injury concerns, or there are international or domestic playing obligations that need to be fulfilled.”