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Players' retirement status for Masters Champions League in confusion with ICC

The status of retirement and its permanence is being thrown into question for some players in the Masters Champions League (MCL).

The MCL is yet to get a clear picture on retirement status of some players

The Masters Champions League is seen as a nostalgic platform to once again witness the legends of yesterday play the game they love. But the status of the players participating is being thrown into contention. While the MCL is endorsed by the Federation of International Cricketers' Association (FICA), it is still facing issues with the retirement status of individual players.

The MCL will debut on 28 January and will be played till 13 February 2016. It will feature some of the biggest names in cricket over the past 20 years.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) is in dispute with the MCL over the playing status of some participants. The ICC has “received notification from two Full Members that its current players have just been approached to play in the event, by requesting those players to seek NOC’s from their respective Board”. The MCL has notified the participants to notify the ICC if they are seeking NOCs.

The ICC had given approval for the MCL to go ahead after it was sanctioned by the Emirates Cricket Board. The ICCs approval came on grounds of it being a tournament for retired players only. But now they have said, “the actions of those involved with the MCL in seeking current player participation in the event is unacceptable to us.”

Pakistan Cricket Board has made it mandatory for cricketers to officially submit a letter stating their retirement before they can acquire an NOC for the MCL. This retirement would be non-revocable. There are over a dozen Pakistani cricketers selected for the MCL including Mohammad Yousuf, Abdul Razzaq, Saleem Elahi and Yasir Hameed.

"I don't mind doing it but I have no idea what is the purpose of it," Yasir Hameed said. "It's not like we are getting some retirement benefit from it or any provident funds so that doesn't make any sense but what can we do. I am not selected in PSL, never been considered for the national team since 2010, then for us, it's like we are retired already so I have no issue of signing it.”

The Pakistan Cricket Board will be launching its own T20 league, the Pakistan Super League. That is one of the reasons it is so strict on its players' participation.

The MCL head Zafar Shah has said that getting an NOC from the respective cricket board is an ICC pre-requisite for the players.

Shah has further stated “This is the perfect time for players who have never announced their retirement to do it now. For example, Mohammad Yousuf never retired, he just found himself out and then not picked, he’s not even playing domestically.”

“Our format is very clear – retirement is a must. Otherwise, we will not entertain anybody. But we don’t have influence with players to tell them to go and retire.” he added.

It is not just Pakistani players who are under the scanner regarding their status as retired players. Shaun Tait was bought by the Libra Legends and he had not played for Australia since 2011. He assumed himself to be retired but he was recalled for the Australian T20 team after his impressive performance in the Big Bash League. In light of this, he is now out of the MCL.

“Well, this is a catch-22 situation,” said Shah. “If people are going back to their boards, we have no issue.  It’s OK, I will let Tait go. Obviously, he will not play for us. We are here to help cricketers.”

Cricketer Graeme Smith has said that the MCL could even act as a platform for him to go back to international cricket. So the idea of an irrevocable retirement may not seem appealing to some players.

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