Three reasons why the Pakistan Super League will benefit Pakistan cricket

Published: January 4, 2017
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In February 2016, I travelled to Dubai to cover the Pakistan Super League, which finally commenced after years of speculation. PHOTO: PSL FACEBOOK PAGE.

I am a freelance journalist based in England. Growing up as a British Pakistani, cricket was always around me, and it still is till this day. If I’m not playing the sport, I’m watching it. If I’m not watching the sport, I’m writing about it. I have a passion for cricket, and a passion for writing, therefore the obvious role for me was to be a sports journalist.

Being a British Pakistani, it’s tough to stay connected to your roots, but through cricket I’ve found that connection.

In February 2016, I travelled to Dubai to cover the Pakistan Super League (PSL), which finally commenced after years of speculation.

Islamabad United celebrating their victory.
Photo: Facebook

Here are three reasons why I believe the tournament will benefit Pakistan cricket in the long run:

1. The financial aspect

Pakistani domestic cricketers are some of the lowest paid professional cricketers in the world. In the national T20 tournament, which took place in August 2016, the cricketers were paid £100 per game. In comparison, the lowest PSL contract is $10,000, which would equate to $1250 per game.

The money involved with a PSL contract will only motivate the youngsters toiling away in the Pakistan domestic scene. It will push them to work harder, in hopes of obtaining a contract.

I spoke with the upcoming batting prodigy, Saif Badar, who told me,

“In the past, the only way for us cricketers to be financially secure was to gain a place in the international team. Now we can have this by playing in this PSL.”

The good news for him is that the Lahore Qalandars recently signed him as a supplementary player.

A lot of the cricketers from Pakistan are from underprivileged backgrounds. The additional money gained by the cricketers due to the league can be used on purchasing enhanced cricketing equipment, and paying for dieticians and nutritionists. These are luxuries the cricketers could never afford with a mere £100 per game.

2. Playing with overseas cricketers

“I never thought I’d share a dressing room with the likes of Ravi Bopara,” said Usama Mir, who represented the Karachi Kings during the first edition of the tournament.

In my view, the biggest benefit of the PSL is that upcoming Pakistani cricketers have the experience of playing with cricket legends. Could we ever imagine the likes of Bismillah Khan batting alongside Kevin Pietersen?

Usama Mir, who represented the Karachi Kings during the first edition of the tournament.
Photo: Facebook/ Waheed Hussain

The amount they learn is immense, as Usama described to me,

“I absorbed so much just sitting next to Ravi. He taught me how to cope under pressure and gave me advice on how I can develop my batting.”

He went on to say, “Simply watching him prepare pre-game was an eye opener for me. The intensity and focus in his training was beneficial.”

I strongly believe cricketers improve when playing against strong opponents. With four overseas cricketers permitted per squad, it increases the competitiveness and quality of the tournament.

Prior to the PSL, the only chance for an upcoming Pakistani cricketer to face an international standard opposition was to play international cricket. The PSL offers this luxury prior to getting to that stage. It therefore allows them to be prepared when arriving on the international scene, and gives them a taste of what to expect at the highest level.

Having such a competitive tournament in terms of player quality, means statistics taken from the tournament are representative of the player’s calibre. I’ve lost count of the amount of times we’ve seen a cricketer with inflated stats after feasting on weak opposition, to then be exposed on an international stage.

3. The exposure

The PSL gives a platform for cricketers in Pakistan to express themselves. It’s a chance for them to show the selectors what they are made of, and to prove themselves against some quality opposition.

Sharjeel Khan was selected for the national team.
Photo: AFP

After extraordinary performances during the first edition of the tournament, Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, and Muhammad Nawaz were selected for the national team. Without the PSL, all three would not have made it, and would continue to toil away in domestic cricket. They have since become regulars on the team, and have gained a central contract by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

The league helps develop and nurture talent, but it also propels the cricketers into the spotlight, similar to how the Indian Premier League (IPL) brought out Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma etc. Both were already talented cricketers, but the IPL gave them the opportunity to express themselves on an international level, and the Indian selectors took notice.

Young Indian cricketers go into the international cricket sphere having played under pressure numerous times, and thus they are familiar with strong opponents due to the IPL. I believe the PSL will have a similar impact on Pakistan cricket, thus benefiting Pakistan cricket as a whole.

I highly doubt that Quetta was even recognised by the overseas Quetta Gladiator cricketers prior to the tournament.
Photo: PCB

In addition to exposure for cricketers, cities in Pakistan also gain exposure due to the PSL. I highly doubt that Quetta was even recognised by the overseas Quetta Gladiator cricketers prior to the tournament.

Overall, I believe the tournament is a breath of fresh air during a dark time for Pakistan cricket. I personally covered the tournament in the press box, and was highly impressed with the organisation of the event, as were the cricketers I spoke to. It’s clear the league has many benefits to the future of Pakistan cricket and I can’t wait for the next round to begin.

Haroon Ahmed

Haroon Ahmed

The author is a freelance journalist based in Birmingham. He specialises in sports journalism and has previously been published by reputable companies. He tweets @hazharoon.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.