PSL Pipedream

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.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - The writer is a mem­ber of the staff.

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.

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