It happened about 35 years ago and changed the game forever.  The world of cricket owes a huge debt to Kerr y Packer for launching the World Series Cricket.  He brought the yet unknown elements like loads of money and fan-fare to bring the excitement back in the game.  Then, in 2008, Indian Premier League (IPL) did the same and more.  This new face of cricket had obscene amount of money, movie stars, and cheerleaders to entertain the fans and lure the players.

About the same time when IPL was launching, PCB also started considering this option but it took four years for them to make a move.  It’s now time for PPL! Pakistan Premier League is about to become a reality.

Why Do We Need PPL?

Nobody wants to come to our house to play.  The attack on the Sri Lankan team rendered Pakistan a no-go area for foreign sports teams.  Without competitive sporting action we are soon going to lose any edge we have left.  The need of the hour is to show the world that it is safe to come to Pakistan to play.  Whether PPL is going to be successful in achieving this objective is yet to be seen.  PCB seems to be completely behind it, “We are dead serious about having our own PPL …,” said a PCB official.

Pakistan cricket team coach Dave Watmore is also optimistic, “I’m sure there will be a lot of international cricketers looking to their schedules and see they are available in this short period of time to come and play here,” Watmore said. “I am very hopeful that there will be some very good international cricketers coming and enjoying playing in the Pakistan Premier League.”

Who is interested?

Wishing for it is one thing but getting people interested in it to sponsor and having players agree to come to play is the key to success.  PCB seems to have made progress; initially there was skepticism among international players but then PCB used the influence of Pakistan’s cricket stars to convince their international peers.  This strategy appears to be working as Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya and Andrew Symonds from Australia have agreed to participating.  “These players have promised to feature whenever they are invited. This is just the beginning and we are expecting more confirmations. Although these cricketers have passed their prime, their participation will convince other players to come forward. The PCB will also take help from other players who feature on foreign tournaments regularly,” shared PCB sources.

In addition, Brian Lara, Chris Gayle and Brad Hogg have also expressed interest.

PPL Teams

The following 16 teams are participating:

Abbottabad Falcons

Beijing Warriors

Dubai Rangers

Faisalabad Wolves

Hyderabad Hawks

Islamabad Leopards

Kabul Cheetahs

Karachi Dolphins

Lahore Lions

Mirpur Lions (formerly Lahore Lions)

Multan Tigers

Peshawar Panthers

Quetta Bears

Rawalpindi Rams

Sialkot Stallions

Sukkar Zebras (formerly Karachi Zebras)

Keeping the Faith

We, Pakistanis, are suckers for good, exciting and competitive cricket in any form, from tape-ball matches in alleys and local grounds to T20; we are there for it all. Fans among us are not only rooting for this idea, they are actually offering good advice on making it successful.

Following the approach of leading Spanish football clubs and handing ownership to the fans would be a good idea. Barcelona and Real Madrid are co-operatively owned by 175,000 members where membership is sold to the general public. People get concessional tickets and merchandise and most importantly, the power to vote on matters of the club.

Instead of having just an emotional attachment to the club, this could provide an opportunity for fans to have a real sense of belonging and take part in the decision making process too. Every fan will enjoy deciding who should be the president of the club.” Source: Omair Mushtaq)

I would rather wish that IPL becomes a subcontinental league with revenues shared. They can include 3 teams from PK 2 from SL and one from BD + 6 teams from India. Revenues should be shared with the same proportions. It will make IPL a long life product with a more intensity in fan following. It will help avoiding the kill which is expected with so many PL’s around.” Source: ahidsaltin (Cricinfo).

PCB, are you listening?

(Image courtesy of Peter Meade)