Afridi-PCB case triggers a debate in Pakistan cricket

Karachi: The dispute between Shahid Afridi and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) may have been settled out of court after the intervention of influential quarters but it has triggered a new debate.

Questions are being asked whether it`s fine for the authorities to abuse their powers to curb the so-called player-power. According to a report Sunday, a PCB official confided in a leading daily that revoking Afridi`s NOCs was a calculated move aimed at assuring the player`s presence at a disciplinary hearing in Lahore.

"He (Afridi) would never have appeared before our disciplinary committee," the official was quoted as saying. "We revoked his NOCs to make it sure that he returns from England to face disciplinary action. He did just that," he said.

But Mehmood Mandviwalla, who represented Afridi in his brief court case against the PCB, doesn`t agree with the board. "I am sorry to say but our national cricketers are in shackles. They are chained by a central contract that gives the Board unequal bargaining power," he said.

Mandviwalla is of the view that if the players properly comprehend the terms and conditions of the PCB central contract, most of them would rebel against it.

"The players have rights. They should understand their rights. They should agitate against the central contract."

The seasoned lawyer also believes that it`s the PCB`s duty to properly explain the contract`s terms and conditions to the players.

According to Mandviwalla, the contract allows the PCB to even block a player`s right to earn his living.

"And the Board exploited that power in Afridi`s case. He was stopped from playing professional cricket, which is one of his basic rights," he says.

However, Tafazzul Rizvi, the Board`s legal advisor, has rejected Manviwalla`s claims.

"We are not a bank so there is no issue of who has more bargaining power," he told the leading daily.

"What we have is a proper employment contract which is in written form. The players are not forced to sign it. It is offered to the country`s best cricketers and they are given a week to sign it.

"They are free to take advice from all quarters. They are even provided an Urdu translation in case they do not understand English," he said.

Tafazzul claimed that the PCB central contract, which has evolved over a period of around eight years is quite "airtight".

He was of the view that without the contract, it would become impossible for the Board to discipline the players. "Without this contract, the players will run amok," he said.

Bureau Report

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