The PCB has withdrawn Faisal Iqbal, the Balochistan first XI head coach, from the upcoming National T20 Cup after his NOC was delayed from his parent organisation, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). ESPNcricinfo understands the reason for the delay is becasue he is presently facing an inquiry about discrepancies between his date of birth and his name in the matriculation certificate from the one he had submitted for his employment with PIA in 2003.
Iqbal was staying with his team in Muridke in a biosecure environment, a protocol for all teams playing domestic cricket. On the last day of quarantine, he, along with his assistant coach Wasim Haider, violated the protocol only to have their stay extended by five days. They were to be tested twice over and required to return negative both times before being allowed to join the team in Multan. After withdrawing Iqbal from the rest of the squad, the PCB named Haider as interim head coach for the tournament scheduled to start from September 30 in Multan.
Unlike last year, all players, support staff and match officials who were offered contracts were asked to fulfill the stipulated term to obtain the NOC from their respective organisations. Unlike Iqbal, PIA has issued an NOC to their regular employees Ghulam Ali (head coach of Sindh Second XI) and Aizaz Cheema (Southern Punjab First XI), while other coaches in the system have understandably submitted their NOCs.
“It would be unfair on Faisal Iqbal as well as on his side – and on the tournament – if he competed in a major domestic tournament until he had resolved and settled the matter with his parent organisation,” the PCB said in a statement. “Faisal Iqbal would be reintegrated with his domestic side as soon as PIA gave him a clean chit along with a No Objective Certificate (NOC). Until such time, Wasim Haider will act as the Balochistan cricket team’s interim head coach.”
This year, the PCB had made substantial changes to the domestic set-up, bringing in new coaches with Iqbal being handed over the charge of Balochistan’s first XI team. However, there were as many as 16 coaches who lost heir jobs, including Azam Khan, Arshad Khan, Ijaz Ahmed Jnr and Kabir Khan. Abdul Razzaq is supposed to replace Kabir at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while Basit Ali, the former SNGPL coach, will take over the reins from Azam at Sindh. Shahid Anwar is in charge of Central Punjab while both Abdur Rehman (Southern Punjab) and Mohammad Wasim (Northern Punjab) were retained. All six domestic coaches will also act as national selection committee members to assist Pakistan national team coach-cum-chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq.
Iqbal, 38, had a prolific career at the junior level since making the Under-15 side. But his time with the seniors has, for the most part, been marred by allegations of nepotism. His career coincided with Mohammad Yousuf and Inzamam-ul-Haq being at their prime, and thus Iqbal was never able to cement his place in the team.
His domestic figures are impressive with 12,685 runs at 39.64 in 225 matches to go along with 5,979 at 42.10 in List A games. Iqbal turned his attention to coaching since he retired from all cricket in 2018, having served as the Karachi Kings’ batting coach for the last two seasons of the PSL.