DURHAM will block Phil Mustard’s attempts at a lucrative spell in the new Pakistan Super League.
Pakistan is the latest country to set up a domestic Twenty20 competition to mimic if not match the Indian Premier League.
Mustard has made a good living by playing in some of the less glamorous versions of the IPL over the last two winters.
But with concerns over security in Pakistan and with the English season drawing closer, the Riversiders will not allow any of their players to compete.
Pakistan have not played Test cricket in their own country since gunmen attacked the Sri Lanka team bus on a 2009 tour, killing seven policemen and injuring six players. As well as making them some much-needed money, the Pakistani authorities are hoping to lure some big-name stars to the PSL to showcase how safe it is to play there.
Fica, the international players’ union has advised its members against, describing the security situation in Pakistan as “unmanageable”.
But Durham wicketkeeper Mustard has been one of the few players to publicly show his support, making no secret of the fact the £63,000 on offer for top players has helped persuade him.
“I’d like to think that over the two weeks I could make a name for myself,” the 30-year-old father of two said last week. “My first instinct was no, but I have spoken to a couple of the Pakistan players and a couple of guys from the ICC (International Cricket Council).
“They say it is all going to go ahead and the security is going to be amazing. There are going to be bullet-proof buses and everything else. My wife is pretty happy for me to go and if she’s happy I’m happy. The money does really help me and the family.
“But it’s an auction-based thing and I’m not going to go over to Pakistan and risk a few things for less than $100,000 (£63,000).”
Mustard will not be entered in the February 24 auction because Durham will not give permission for a No Objection Certificate, without which he cannot play.
NOCs are issued by international boards, and while the England and Wales Cricket Board are unlikely to give one to any of their centrally-contracted players, they are putting the onus on counties to make the decision over their employees.
In public Durham have voiced skepticism, mainly around the fact the PSL is on the last day of their opening First-Class game of the season, and only three before their first County Championship match.
But while Durham’s official line is the decision will be left to Mustard – and anyone else approached – in reality it has already been made that he will not be going.
Each of the five PSL “franchises” is allowed six foreign players and former ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat, who advises them, has promised they will be filled by high-profile names “from across the globe.”
Life insurance cover of up to £1.26m is reportedly part of the package.
The games will all be played in Lahore, where the 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka team took place.
Mustard played for semi-finalists Auckland Aces in New Zealand’s HRV Cup this winter, and is now in a second spell with Barisal Burners in the Bangladeshi equivalent.
Mustard’s form there has matched the struggling holders’, with a disappointing top score of 35 to date, and last week he was dropped down from his usual role at the top of the order.
However, the experience the former Durham captain has gained from playing in alien conditions ought to help his game as well as his bank balance.
The Bangladesh Premier League is another the players unions are not keen on, though more because many players went unpaid in 2012 than because of security issues.