In December 2020, chairperson of the Parliamentary Special Committee of Kashmir, Shehryar Khan Afridi launched Kashmir Premier League (KPL). It was decided that the second edition would also feature women’s KPL as a bonus and would provide the only opportunity for women in Kashmir to play professional cricket.
President of Azad Kashmir Masood Khan was appointed Chief Patron of the KPL. Ch. Shahzad Akhtar is the CEO and Arif Malik is the founding President of KPL and former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram is founding Vice President. Shahid Afridi is the Brand Ambassador of the league. The KPL is accredited by the PCB, a permanent member of the ICC, the Government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and the Government of Punjab, Pakistan.
KPL’s inaugural season was initially scheduled to commence in May 2021 and was moved to 6th of August and is very likely to be extended further. The league consists of six teams, five teams representing the cities in Azad Kashmir and one team representing overseas Kashmiris, the six teams are Bagh Stallions, Mirpur Royals, Muzaffarabad Tigers, Overseas Warriors, Kotli Lions, and Rawalakot Hawks. This tournament will be very low profile with a few former stars and for a span of 10 days.
There wasn’t a lot of talking of this league but when a former players tweet attacking BCCI was in picture this news spread like a wild fire. The tweet was of Herschelle Gibbs where he claims that :
Tillakaratne Dilshan, former Sri Lankan captain confirmed that he will be a part of this league and will play despite complications. A player agent confirmed that yes, BCCI secretary Jay Shah made calls to Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) permanent Director Graeme Smith to deny no objection certificates (NOC’s) to players and the same with England Cricket Board (ECB) as few former English players Owais Shah, Matt Prior, Phil Mustard and Monty Panesar will also feature in the league. In conversation with the KPL franchise the player agent mailed, the players have been warned if they take in this Pakistan’s Kashmir Premier League then BCCI will not allow the participating players to enter India for any work and nor will these players be allowed to be involved with their national sides in future as coaches or be involved whenever India will tour.
BCCI’S SAY ON KPL BCCI have not official reacted to this, but a BCCI official did say a few statements, we cannot confirm or deny the statements made by Gibbs, and even if it is true they (BCCI) are well within their rights to do so.
Further added, PCB is coming across as confused. Just the way the decision to not allow players of Pakistani origin to participate in the IPL cannot be construed as interfering in the internal affairs of an ICC member, the decision, if any, to allow or disallow anyone from participating in any manner with cricket within India is purely an internal matter of the BCCI. The official concluded saying PCB can take the matter to ICC and we (BCCI) know what the ICC will say.
WHY IS BCCI WARNING PLAYERS ? The reason is very simple with the political background the two nations share. The KPL will be held in Muzzafarabad, an area in Pakistan administered Kashmir or Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).
The political tensions between India and Pakistan due to Kashmir is something everyone knows of and since the PCB is hosting the KPL with a name and area which India considers to be its own, the Indian government and BCCI are unhappy with the league.
It’s always said that sports and politics must not come in play together and here there are different angles to look at it. Political involvement in sport has been an issue and has affected nations. In a low profile event there shouldn’t be much to oppose off and is not a great example of gentleman’s sporting game, cricket. The objection being only of the name then there might be negotiations between PCB and BCCI or PCB will have to rename and conduct the event. Kashmir on the cricket maps with a event is surely great for sport and will provide expose and especially for women cricket professionals.
Also, the PCB has yet not given NOC’s to Pakistani players and have just verbally allowed them but that is just a matter of time. Situation currently remains tense and will be intresting to see how things head going forward and what negotiations come up.