PSL 2021: Eight more Australian players sign up for Pakistan Super League- As many as eight Australians will fly to UAE for the remainder of the Pakistan Super League as PCB aims to finish its COVID-19 hit season. The remaining 20 out of 34 matches were shifted from Karachi after the COVID-19 cases among players and support staff earlier this year.
The UAE is also reportedly in the running to host this year’s T20 World Cup, currently scheduled for India. With that country still in the grips of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic that cut short the IPL season, a decision is expected at an ICC meeting early next month.
Jack Wildermuth, Jake Weatherald and Tim David are the latest Australia-based players to be called up for the tournament after it staged a third draft on the weekend to fill the gaps in club rosters caused by the fixture reshuffle.
Wildermuth and Weatherald were picked up by the Quetta Gladiators after Ben Cutting opted out of a return, while David will join the Lahore Qalanders.
Cutting, who also played in the Indian Premier League, was not part of the Australian contingent who returned to Sydney last week on a BCCI charter flight from Maldives, having instead travelled to Dubai with the intention to resume the PSL season with Quetta Gladiators.
But with a late hiccup in PSL authorities getting clearance to host the tournament in Abu Dhabi, Cutting made the call to come home.
He had spent 19 consecutive days in hotel isolation from when the IPL was suspended until his flight home, and having been in bio-secure bubbles for all but a week since the start of the KFC BBL last November, the 34-year-old decided he needed a break.
“I love the PSL and playing for Quetta but in the current climate of bio bubbles and quarantine it’s difficult to do everything,” Cutting told cricket.com.au from his hotel quarantine in Brisbane.
“I have been in bubbles since I left home on November 30, only having a week outside them for my wedding in February. I left two days later for the first round of the PSL and I needed a mental break from quarantine.
“I have come home to refresh, reset and get back into things again at whatever tournament pops up next.”
Joe Burns, who was a surprise inclusion in the competition’s second draft late last month, has now pulled out of what would have been his first stint in a T20 franchise competition, while Dan Christian – who will re-join Nottinghamshire for the T20 Blast in the UK – and Chris Lynn are also not returning.
A second draft ahead of a planned restart in Karachi saw Usman Khawaja selected by Islamabad United for what he hoped would be his first ever professional cricket matches in the country of his birth.
While Khawaja will still travel to play for Islamabad, the wait to play on Pakistan soil will go on with the remaining 20 matches of the tournament, including finals, to be held in Abu Dhabi.
James Faulkner and Callum Ferguson were also picked up in the second draft and both are set to play for the Lahore Qalanders franchise.
Fawad Ahmed and Ben Dunk, who travelled to Pakistan for the start of the tournament, are set to return to their Islamabad and Lahore franchises, respectively.
Fawad was one of the many players and support staff who contracted COVID-19 at the tournament in February and, while he did not need hospitalisation, was bedridden for 17 days.
He told cricket.com.au that his experience had not diminished his appetite for the global T20 circuit, but he said he wants to see more strict biosecurity measures in place for the resumption.
Cutting, who also played in the IPL, was not part of the Australian contingent who returned to Sydney last week on a BCCI charter flight from the Maldives, having instead travelled to Dubai. He arrived in Brisbane over the weekend to begin his 14-day quarantine period.
There has been a large amount of shuffling of team rosters, not least by Afghanistan and Adelaide Strikers leg-spinner Rashid Khan; having pulled out of the tournament resumption and replaced by Bangladesh allrounder Shakib-al-Hasan, Rashid has now recommitted to the tournament after Shakib pulled out.
Squad sizes have been increased to 20 players, but the minimum number of overseas players required in a playing XI has been reduced from three to two players for the remaining 14 games.
Islamabad, Lahore and the Karachi Kings have so far only selected 19 players.
ESPN reported players from the six franchises would have seven days in quarantine in the UAE, with players from South Africa and the subcontinent arriving on chartered flights. It’s understood the Australians will take commercial flights to the UAE.
Australians in the Pakistan Super League
Islamabad United: Fawad Ahmed, Usman Khawaja
Lahore Qalanders: Tim David, Ben Dunk, James Faulkner, Callum Ferguson
Quetta Gladiators: Jake Weatherald, Jack Wildermuth
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