ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's suspended star batsman Mohammad Yousuf said Friday the attitude of Pakistan Cricket Board officials forced him to rejoin the non-sanctioned Indian Cricket League.
"For the last one and a half years, the cricket board officials are unfair with me," Yousuf told The Associated Press on telephone from Ahmedabad, India.
Yousuf was expected to make his ICL debut for Lahore Badshahs against Dhaka Warriors later Friday.
The PCB reacted to his ICL move by suspending Yousuf from representing Pakistan. He was also cut from the 15-member squad for next week's three one-day international series against the West Indies in Abu Dhabi. The ICL is not officially recognized by the International Cricket Council or national associations, as it runs in competition to the Indian Premier League, the country's officially sanctioned Twenty20 competition.
Yousuf, a veteran of 79 tests and 269 one-day internationals, had experienced difficulties with both selectors and PCB officials this year - with the low point coming when a delay in the issuance of visa forced him to be dropped from last month's triangular twenty20 tournament in Toronto, Canada.
"Unknown cricketers were issued visas and I failed to understand why I could not get the required visa," Yousuf said. "Nobody from the cricket board informed me and I only came to know about the visa problem from the media reports."
Despite his differences with the PCB hierarchy, Yousuf was eager to represent his country as he still believed he could play all three formats of the game - Twenty20, one-dayers and test matches - for another two to three years.
"I have never said that I will prefer ICL over playing for my country," Yousuf said. "I am even available for the Abu Dhabi series, but it's disappointing that the PCB has suspended me."
Yousuf - scorer of 6,770 runs in test matches - hit back at allegations that money alone lured him to rejoin the ICL - a charge leveled at him by former test players Aamir Sohail and Abdul Qadir.
"Where were these former test cricketers when the PCB claimed that there was delay in my visa for the Toronto event?" a disgruntled Yousuf asked. "They did not raise any voice and now they are criticizing me. I am getting more (money) while representing Pakistan and it's totally wrong to say that I joined ICL because of big sums of money."
The PCB has banned all players contracted to the ICL from its national or domestic competitions, with the Yousuf decision indicating no change of policy under new president Ijaz Butt.
Other high-profile Pakistani ICL players on the outer include ex-test captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, all-rounders Azhar Mahmood and Abdul Razzaq and opening batsman Imran Farhat.
Yousuf signed for the ICL last year, but the PCB convinced him not to play in the competition so that he could continue playing for the national team. That prompted legal action from the ICL for breach of contract.
He later tried to join the Indian Premier League, but that move was blocked by the ICL.
Meanwhile, the PCB is demanding Mohammad Yousuf return 10 million rupees ($124,000) it spent on the star batsman's legal case in India involving his seesawing contract negotiations with rival Twenty20 leagues.
"Today, we have served him a show cause notice and if he doesn't return the money, we will file a lawsuit in a civil court to recover money," PCB lawyer Shan Gul told The Associated Press.