Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja has said the absence of Pakistan players in the IPL in South Africa will seriously affect the television viewership of the event in the country. Though the players will miss the entire tournament, they will be engaged in a limited-overs series in the UAE against Australia starting April 22 and Ramiz hoped the interest will pick up after series ends.
"The event's moved out of India, there are no Pakistani players playing, so the interest in our country has definitely gone down," Ramiz told AFP. "With hardly any international cricket in mid-May the fans will turn towards the IPL and the GEO Super sports channel showing the matches is also drumming up the event."
The captain Younis Khan - a member of the Rajasthan Royals last season - added that the Indian fans too will miss not having them around. His team-mate Sohail Tanvir was the leading wicket-taker in the competition last year.
The Pakistan Cricket Board had earlier banned its players from participating in the IPL after the country's relations with India deteriorated after the terror attacks in Mumbai in November. When the tournament was moved out of India - over security reasons - the Pakistan players were hopeful of returning but IPL officials said it wouldn't be possible as the squads had already been finalised earlier.
"We are even willing to travel to South Africa and sort out this matter with the IPL franchises," Salman Ahmed, who is negotiation with the IPL on behalf of the Pakistani players, told AP. "The franchises have given them nothing in writing. It is in their contracts that a notice will be served before any such termination or suspension, but in this case nothing as such is indicated with any of the players."
Prior to the 2009 IPL auction, the contracts of Shoaib Akhtar, Younis, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Salman Butt and Mohammed Hafeez were terminated by their franchises and four others - Umar Gul, Misbah-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal and Tanvir - had their contracts "suspended", allowing their teams to replace them at the draft.
It is reported that there is a sense of resentment that the franchises did not inform them before cancelling the contracts and it is believed the players are mulling legal action.