Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) today launched its very own franchise-based T20 league, to be held in the UAE in October, but the BCCI is expected to maintain its current stand of not allowing Indian players to turn freelancers. The ACB claims that 40 overseas cricketers have showing interest in the league to be staged in Sharjah from October 5-24. While the top officials of Afghanistan board wanted BCCI to allow at least its non-contracted players to take part in the inaugural edition, India won’t make exceptions for one particular private league, even though it is a venture of a long-time ally.

BCCI has not allowed its cricketers to play in any T20 league outside the IPL and it is unlikely to change its stance for the Afghanistan Premier League (APL). “I am not talking about the current Indian cricketers here but it will be great if the other Indian players can come and play in our league, ACB CEO Shafiqullah Stanikzai told PTI here.

“I will speak to the BCCI officials on the subject but honestly it looks tough at the moment, he added. India has contributed significantly to the rapid growth of Afghanistan cricket. The Afghanistan team trains in India and has home grounds in Greater Noida and now Dehradun. India will also be hosting Afghanistan’s inaugural Test in June in Bengaluru.

India has always lent a helping hand to its friend Afghanistan and will continue to do so. The ACB officials have not so far come to us on participation of our players in their league. Honestly speaking, it will be tough to allow the players at this stage. If we allow one, we have to give clearance to everyone, a senior BCCI official told PTI.

In a first, the BCCI had issued a NOC to Yusuf Pathan to play in a Hong Kong league last year but revoked it later. Talking more about the APL, Stanikzai said the league will be a five-team affair initially and will comprise 24 games on home and away format. And most probably we will have a draft system to pick the players, not the auction. The interest from investors have been encouraging so far and there are some Indian franchisees too who have shown interest, said the CEO.

ACB already organises Shpageeza Cricket League at home but it is mainly a domestic event. With the APL, we aim to give exposure to our players to rub shoulders against the best in the world. It will also help the economy of our cricket. We see APL becoming one of the top-three leagues in the world, Stanikzai added.

Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai said the league will further fuel the game’s growth in the country. The league will help us produce more world-class players and at a much faster pace as compared to now, he told PTI.