Legendary Pakistani bowler Wasim Akram, who is also the bowling coach of the Indian Premier League franchise Kolkata Knight Riders, has decided to skip the next edition of the tournament, which starts in April 2017, on account of other professional commitments. There is no news yet on whether he will return as coach for future seasons.
There are major rumours going around in cricketing circles that Akram’s pull-out of the league next year is connected to comments made by Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir, who claimed earlier in October that India should have no ties with Pakistan until cross-border terrorism stopped, adding that Indian lives mattered more than any sport.
Tensions have been rising between the two sub-continental countries all years with increased terrorist attacks in India leading to the death of several soldiers in multiple incidents. There has also been major civilian unrest in the state of Kashmir, with Pakistan seen as the major culprit behind both the terrorist attacks and the riots in Kashmir.
Akram was the lone surviving Pakistani connection to the Indian Premier League, with no player from the country having appeared for any franchise of the league since 2008, when 11 players featured, including the likes of Sohail Tanvir, Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar. Following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November 2008, Pakistani players were initially banned and were then allowed to play in 2010, but no franchise picked them for their teams. Since 2012 an official ban has been put in place on Pakistani players.
This is the second time Akram will be missing the IPL, having also skipped the 2013 edition in order to be with his family. Kolkata Knight Riders MD and CEO Venky Mysore has thanked the 50-year-old following Akram’s decision to skip the 2017 edition.
“We will miss Wasim bhai who has been part of the KKR family over the last few years and has played a significant role in our title triumphs in 2012 and 2014. We wish him the very best in all his endeavours,” Mysore said, as per ESPNCricinfo.