UAE investigating Pakistan-bound Usman Khan for breach of contract

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The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) is investigating if Usman Khan‘s decision to declare his intention to play for Pakistan constitutes a breach of his contract with the UAE board.

ESPNcricinfo understands the ECB is conducting a review of the case to assess potential breaches of contract not just with the board itself, but also with white-ball leagues he has played in the UAE as a local player, including the ILT20 and the T10.

The decision of the review, which ECB sources told ESPNcricinfo will be finalised in the next fortnight, could carry significant ramifications for Usman. It is understood he could face a ban from league cricket in the UAE, thus depriving him of the most financially lucrative cricket he has played in his career thus far.

If a breach of contract is deemed to have occurred, it is also set to have consequences for the player’s work permit, under which he has lived in the UAE to complete the residency requirement to be able to qualify to play international cricket for the UAE; he still has 14 months to go before he satisfies that criteria.

For his part, Usman believes he has not breached any contract, contesting that his contract includes an exit clause with a 30-day notice period. It is understood he is resigned to whatever sanction the ECB levies on him, and that the allure of playing for Pakistan when the PCB came calling after the PSL was too enticing to turn down.

Usman was asked by the PCB if he still wished to play for Pakistan, to which he responded in the affirmative. On Monday, he was named in the Pakistan camp that is currently training with the Pakistan military in a PCB initiative to boost player fitness. He linked up with the camp on Sunday evening, and ESPNcricinfo understands the PCB are looking to fast-track him into the Pakistan side ahead of a five-match T20I series against New Zealand next month.

In an interview with ESPNcricinfo on the eve of the PSL final – in which he was the second highest run-scorer – Usman appeared to downplay his chances of playing for Pakistan, talking up the ease of obtaining NOCs to play in leagues around the world as a UAE player, and the advantages of being considered a local player in the UAE’s limited-overs leagues. But events have moved swiftly since then.

But given he hasn’t yet played international cricket for either nation, a tug of war has broken out for a player who seems at the peak of his prowess at the moment. The ECB’s decision to announce an immediate review has indicated they are unwilling to roll over and let what they view as their player be poached by the PCB from under their noses.

For Usman, the decision comes down to the attraction of playing the world’s biggest tournaments – such as the T20 World Cup in June which he appears to be a shoo-in for with Pakistan – balanced against the lucrative nature of a freelance T20 specialist affiliated with the UAE. While he appears to have chosen the former over the latter for now, much may rest on the outcome of the ECB’s review.

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