Saqlain Mushtaq Urges Organisers of T20 in Canada to Pay Up

An estimated crowd of 12,000 attended the Rogers Centre in Toronto last Saturday as Canadian cricket fans were treated to a twenty over match between an International XI and an Asia XI. Whilst the fans inside the arena were noisy and enthusiastic, many were also disgruntled as the likes of Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Akmal and Hammad Azam, all of whom had initially been announced as part of the players roster, were not in attendance after the Pakistan Cricket Board did not provide the Pakistani players with NOCs.

In addition, exciting Bangladesh opening batsman Tamim Iqbal who was listed to take part in the event, was nowhere to be seen and the International XI were also not at full strength as their listed captain the West Indian legend Brian Lara was to be seen in the Rogers Centre in non cricketing attire and did not take any part in the match.

After last minute personnel changes, the players who eventually turned out for each team did their best to make the occasion as entertaining as possible. Committed to the event the cricketers had turned up to take part in the match from all over the world, including South Africa, New Zealand, England, Australia and Zimbabwe, but the non appearance of the Pakistani cricketers left the event with a rather hollow feel, as a large percentage of the crowd were of Pakistani origin.

The event last Saturday in Canada was scheduled to become an annual event, an event that would feature some of cricket's big names in Canada on a regular basis and provide a major boost to the ever growing popularity of cricket in Canada. However this looks highly unlikely as the organisers (Kat Rose Inc) have so far failed to pay the players who took part in the match last week.

Following the event South African wicketkeeper Mark Boucher on his twitter account wrote "Absolute shambles in Canada. No players been paid. No organisers here to explain! Disgrace for Canadian cricket! So sad!" Boucher further added "Doubt any international cricketers will be back here in Canada after this. Kat Rose Inc. (Herb Choga) running for cover now! This is a joke! Some players paid for their own plane tickets."

Speaking with former Pakistan off spinner Saqlain Mushtaq who played in the match in Canada for the Asia XI spoke of his delight at taking part in the match in Toronto but also urged the organisers to ensure that the cricketers who took part in the event are paid their dues in full as soon as possible.

"I really enjoyed the match, it was good to be out there in Canada amongst passionate cricket lovers and also international cricketers from all over the world. It was great to catch up with guys who I have played against in the past and to be playing cricket in such a vast and fantastic arena" stated Saqlain.

Saqlain feels that cricket in Canada has a huge potential for growth but negative publicity like what has occurred in the aftermath of the event in Toronto will undoubtedly put off international cricketers going to Canada to take part in any such events in future.

"All the players were of the opinion that we all wanted to play a part to boost the popularity of cricket in Canada and I'm sure most if not all of the boys would have been prepared to play in such matches in future. We all wanted to help the organisers hold a successful and popular event and to ensure that the event would become a regular fixture. However after what is occurring at the moment, we'll have to think twice about playing in such matches in future" added Saqlain.

35 year old Saqlain who represented Pakistan on 218 occasions and now coaches cricketers of various ages and levels around the world, urged the organisers to pay the cricketers what was owed to them and what had been promised.

"We all have families who we have to support, mouths to feed at home. The cricketers went to Canada with their best intentions to support the event and we delivered our side of the deal. We flew out there from all parts of the world, played to the best of our ability, so we have done what was required from us. I would urge the organisers to deliver their side of the deal and what was promised to all of the cricketers and pay us our dues."

"Our representatives are in touch with the organisers to try and get them to pay us, but as yet there has been no official word from the organisers as to when or if they will pay us what was promised. I hope the situation is resolved quickly" stated Saqlain