The Afghanistan Cricket Board is confident the upcoming Afghanistan Premier League (APL) will be held without any hitch and steer clear of any corruption.
The inaugural APL will take place from October 5-23 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium with five franchises fighting it out over 23 matches. Among those competing in the league include star names such as Shahid Afridi, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell and Shoaib Malik among a host of renowned Afghan faces like Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Zadran. The teams have been split on provincial lines in Afghanistan; Kabul, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Paktia and Balkh.
The league was hit by controversy this week with the news that Afghan wicket-keeper Mohammed Shahzad was approached by suspicious individual/s during the ongoing Asia Cup. The APL was reported to be the subject of the corrupt approach.
However, Basheer Stanikzai – tournament director of APL – said there is no reason to panic as there are enough safeguards in place to prevent any mishap.
“If players are suspicious, they must report. It wasn’t serious, but we told him (Shahzad) to report this,” Stanikzai said in Dubai.
“We have got services of ICC Anti-Corruption unit. They are handling it along with our anti-corruption officers. Whoever comes on board, we send all details to ICC Anti-Corruption department. We ourselves we double checks.”
The league has been up an running for barely a month. Team owners and player drafts were finalised just weeks ago and that means ACB don’t have as much time as they want to prepare for the inaugural tournament. However, Stanikzai said they will put their best foot forward.
“First year is always challenging. We are getting there, everything is in place. Draft is done, teams are selected. We have done everything, whatever is required. Just a few days are remaining and we are hopeful it will be a successful league.”
The Afghanistan board is also looking at India as a possible venue for future editions as they already have a base in the country and a sizeable Pathan population in the subcontinent.
“We are thinking (of India) for the future. First few years it will be in the UAE as we have lot of supporters here. However when we played the last series against Bangladesh in Dehradun (north India), we felt like we were playing in Kabul. Those are in plans and we will discuss with BCCI when we can take the league to India.”