20 Mar Peshawar Zalmi owner wants PSL to move to Pakistan for better future
For the last few days there have been speculations on whether the overseas players will be travelling to Pakistan for the final stage of the Pakistan Super League.
Things, however, look brighter now with most of the franchises managing to get a decent amount of foreign representation for the final leg of the tournament. Peshawar Zalmi, the defending champion of the PSL, has managed to convince most of its overseas recruits to travel to Pakistan. And speaking to Sportstar, Zalmi owner, Javed Afridi admits that it is important to have more number of games in Pakistan to maintain the popularity of the PSL.
In a freewheeling chat from Dubai, Afridi speaks on a range of issues.
Are all the overseas players of Peshawar Zalmi travelling to Pakistan?
Except Dwayne Smith, all the players of Peshawar Zalmi will be coming to Pakistan for the PSL playoffs and if we qualify for the final.
With some of the top overseas players not willing to travel to Pakistan, will the tournament lose its sheen?
The final of PSL 2 was successfully held in Lahore last year and the arrival of Peshawar Zalmi’s foreign players was really a boost for the final. It also became one of the main reasons behind the revival of international cricket in Pakistan. The good sign this time is that four teams are coming to Pakistan and every team has four to five foreign players. This includes players like Darren Sammy, Liam Dawson, Chris Jordan, JP Duminy, Luke Ronchi and many other star players, which is a great sign. Those players who are not coming must review their stance. Law and order in Pakistan is better as compared to last year.
Former cricketers like Moin Khan has said that henceforth overseas players who are willing to travel to Pakistan should only be considered for the PSL players draft. Do you subscribe to the idea?
It’s a very tricky situation. For me, the only solution is to host maximum matches in Pakistan and it will set the tone. PSL’s future is to host this league entirely in Pakistan and I am sure next year maximum matches will be played in Pakistan and it will help this league.
As a franchise owner, do you feel there must be stricter provisions from next season, so that it is ensured that overseas players must come to Pakistan for the final stage?
Ideally, every contracted player for the PSL must play all its matches, including the ones in Pakistan. I suggest next year PCB should apply a policy that all foreign players, who get contract for PSL 4, must play all matches in Pakistan too. Full strength squad of all PSL teams touring Pakistan is a very important point in cricket’s standard perspective. The squads must remain strong and same for the entire league.
Has poor turnout in UAE been a concern for the team owners of PSL?
Empty stadiums or low attendance is never a good sight for any sport. High standard events like PSL deserve full house crowds. I will suggest a better and proper marketing plan for the PSL matches in UAE. Many things can be done. There should be more tickets for all the franchises and along with PCB, franchise’s own platforms like Digital (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc), Media Partners and even sponsors can create hype at least two months before the start of tournament. So, people would be engaged with the league and its hype.
How important is the PSL final for Pakistan cricket?
Not only PSL final, but also two playoffs in Lahore is huge for Pakistan Cricket. In contrast to UAE, the ticket demand is rocket-high in Pakistan. To be honest, Lahore and Karachi stadiums appear smaller, given the huge demand for tickets. Tickets priced at Rs 12,000 (in Pakistani rupees) are being sold within an hour. That is why I believe PSL’s future is in Pakistan and I’m hopeful that next year, we will have more matches in Pakistan. I feel that PSL matches should be hosted in Peshawar too, so that our passionate fans can enjoy the game at Zalmi’s home ground.