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Mike Procter © Gallo Images

Pak says 50 foreigners signed for T20 League



More than 50 foreign players have so far signed up for Pakistan's first major Twenty20 league, organisers said on Thursday, despite a warning from the international players' association not to take part.

Salman Sarwar Butt, managing director of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), gave the figure and said more overseas players were "likely to sign up shortly", in a Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) statement.

He revealed neither any players' names nor their nationalities but said the overseas interest showed the league, due to start on March 26, was "attractive both in terms of cricket and financial gains".

No international cricket has been played in Pakistan since militants attacked the Sri Lankan team bus during a test match in Lahore in 2009 and the country is still rocked by almost daily bombings and shootings.

Adding to the difficulties for the PSL, the head of the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations warned players last week not to take part in the two-week tournament.

Cricket Australia and Cricket South Africa have also hinted they might not allow any players to feature in the PSL.

However, Pakistan last week confirmed South Africans Mike Procter and Rudi Koertzen along with Zimbabwean Russell Tiffin had signed up as match officials.

PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf has offered foreign players insurance worth $2 million and up to $100 000 tax free income to play in the league, and Butt insisted in Thursday's statement top-level security would be provided.

"The safety of each and every participant including the audiences is a responsibility that the PSL is not taking lightly," he said.

Organisers were looking at bringing in private firms with "proven credentials" to bolster the security provided by the Pakistani state, he added.

Butt said players will have to seek leave from their home boards to participate, a pre-requisite from the International Cricket Council for Twenty20 leagues around the world.

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