The Pakistan Super League (PSL) could serve Pakistan crick cricket in the long-term. But more concrete measures should be taken to bring foreign teams back to thet country rather than playing a Pakistani event away from home.
Pakistan Super League (PSL) is back. Being held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from February 09, 2017, the second edition of PSL, or PSL 2, will take place in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi, while the final is expected to be played in Lahore on March 07.
The first edition of PSL was organized in Dubai in February 2016 that turned out to be a huge success in a number of ways.
Firstly, those players who had not represented Pakistan in international cricket were provided with a great opportunity to play with international cricketers. Secondly, the event brought in lots of revenue to the Pakistan Cricket Board ( PCB) that otherwise struggles to achieve financial stability being unable to host international matches at home. Thirdly, and most importantly, the PSL helped restore the disfigured image of the country, which is wrongly recognized around the world for various negative but misplaced attributes.
Like the initiation of the ChinaPakistan Economic Corridor ( CPEC) projects and the emergence of the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) as the top performing equity market in Asia, the Pakistan Super League (PSL) has emerged as one of the most notable developments made by Pakistan in recent years.
PSL 2, a one-month long, franchise-based T/20 tournament, is going
By Faizan Usmani to feature both local and international players, representing a total of five teams that have been named after major cities of Pakistan, such as Karachi as Karachi Kings, Peshawar as Peshawar Zalmi, Quetta as Quetta Gladiators, Islamabad as Islamabad United and Lahore as Lahore Qalandars.
Auctioned for a period of 10 years, each franchise consists of 16 members with some ten to eleven cricketers from Pakistan, while the remaining are foreign players. At the PSL-2 auction, all players were grouped in five categories, such as Platinum, Diamond, Gold, Silver and Emerging. The grouping was based on experience and overall performance of each player in both domestic and international cricket.
Among the leading international players who are participating in the PSL second edition are Kumar Sangakkara, Brendon McCullum, Chris Gayle, Darren Sammy, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Steven Finn, Dwayne Smith, Ravi Bopara, Kieron Pollard and many others. Captained by Misbah-Ul-Haq, the Islamabad United will defend the title this year.
What makes the PSL-2 stand apart from the previous edition is the final match that is supposed to be held in Lahore instead of the UAE. Though holding the PSL final at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore would not be more than a one-night stand, it is perhaps one of the rare occasions when the Pakistan Cricket Board ( PCB) looks committed to bringing international cricket back to the country.
On the other hand, the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association (FICA) has warned foreign players from going to Pakistan for security reasons. Following the security advice of independent sources, FICA believes playing cricket in a war-torn country like Pakistan still poses a high-security risk to foreign teams and players.
Well aware of the concern, the seemingly efficient PCB has made some contingency plans to deal with the matter. Coming out against the FICA statement, Najam Sethi, Chairman, Pakistan Super League (PSL), says those international players who are unwilling to travel to and play in Pakistan will be replaced with other willing players, but the PCB’s decision to hold the PSL final in Lahore will remain in place.
Fraught with ifs and buts, the scenario brings to the surface the dilemma of Pakistan cricket, hanging in the balance for the last nine years owing to vulnerable security conditions in the country and due to the lack of concern shown by PCB over the period to convince international sides to play with Pakistan on its home
It is now nearly a decade since the exit of international cricket from the country, but Pakistan has not been able to regain its status as a safe place to visit and play as far as foreign players are concerned. Better late than never, the PSL happens to be a real effort made, but its ultimate vision of bringing international cricket back to the country is easier said than done.
From venue selection to hiring event management companies to host both the opening and closing ceremonies of the tournament, PSL happens to be completely an outsourced venture despite carrying the tag of being Pakistan's official T20 league. Unfortunately, it is not similar to cricket leagues organized and played in other countries.
Because of having a unique nomadic identity, as well as the challenging environment it has been working on since its inception, PSL should not be compared with the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) and the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).
Above all, holding of Pakistan Super League other than in Pakistan is a bit of an anticlimax, as well as a failure of the whole nation, including the PCB and the government authorities. Such a failure cannot be defended using the pretext of the poor law and order situation alone.
A totally outsourced PSL corroborates the tarnished image Pakistan has not been able to remove since the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in March 2009 in Lahore. This also reflects the PCB’s half-baked attempts at persuading international teams to tour Pakistan.
In contrast, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), despite the country’s weak law and order situation, has been doing a great job by not asking international teams to play at a neutral venue; the luxury is enjoyed by the Pakistan cricket team only. After last year's terror attack on a cafe in Dhaka that resulted in the deaths of 18 foreign nationals, the England cricket team showed its concern regarding playing in Bangladesh. However, the BCB refused to play in any other country and was even ready for cancellation of England’s tour in preference to playing its home series away from home.
Unfortunately, such a principled stance is missing in voices raised in Pakistan that could not make cricket an essential part of its foreign policy. Managers of this most popular sport of the country make the most of non-stop cricket played away from home. In such a grim situation, what else remains for PSL to offer to Pakistan cricket is a matter of mere speculation.
After developing into an internationally known brand, PSL will serve Pakistan cricket in the long term. It will help create a good revenue stream for the Pakistan Cricket Board, otherwise perceived to be a cashstarved institution, despite making some ten billion and 77 crore rupees (Rs10.77 billion) over the last three years.
In addition, PSL gives a rare opportunity to uncapped talent of the country to play with international players. However, envisioning the revival of international cricket in Pakistan through the PSL alone is nothing more than a pipe dream.
Holding Pakistan Super League outside Pakistan is a bit of an anticlimax, as well as a failure of the whole nation, including the PCB and government.