UAE’s newly formed T20 league, the International League T20 (ILT20) has signed the first player from Pakistan, the wicket-keeper batter Azam Khan.
The 24-year-old has been snagged by Desert Vipers, which is owned by Lancer Capital, among other international recruits. Sri Lanka’s legspinner Wanindu Hasaranga, England’s wicketkeeper-batter Sam Billings and West Indies’ left-arm quick Sheldon Cottrell have been announced as new signings as well.
Alex Hales, Tom Curran and Ben Duckett are also part of the Vipers while Namibian left-arm seamer Ruben Trumpelmann and Nepal legspinner Sandeep Lamichhane were the Vipers’ Associate picks.
Azam Khan actually getting to play in the UAE’s ILT20 remains subject to him receiving a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Pakistan Cricket Board.
Issuance of the NOCs has become a point of contention between the board and the players with PCB actively blocking its players from participation in international leagues in favour of local tournaments.
Azam Khan was recently blocked from leaving for the Caribbean Premier League but was granted his wish after filing an appeal.
Vipers are beginning to fill up administrative spots as well with former Australian allrounder Tom Moody and former England wicketkeeper-batter James Foster being brought in as the director of cricket and head coach respectively.
Lancer Capital, the team’s owners are entering the world of cricket for the first time but have been part of the sporting world for some time. They are also the owners of Manchester United and Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL.
Desert Vipers squad so far: Wanindu Hasaranga (Sri Lanka), Sam Billings (England), Alex Hales (England), Colin Munro (New Zealand), Tom Curran (England), Sandeep Lamichhane (Nepal), Ruben Trumpelmann (Namibia), Saqib Mahmood (England), Sherfane Rutherford (West Indies), Ben Duckett (England), Benny Howell (England), Sheldon Cottrell (West Indies), Azam Khan (Pakistan)