Former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum was the top pick of the 2017 Pakistan Super League [PSL] draft held at Dubai’s Sports City, confirmed as Lahore Qalandars’ captain for the second edition of the tournament.
McCullum was announced as the Qalandars’ star man last month, replacing Azhar Ali as skipper.
The 35-year-old, who retired from international cricket in February last year, said the Qalandars project was the driving force behind his decision.
“It’s great to be involved in the PSL and being here and experiencing the draft. It’s quite unique,” said McCullum.
“At Lahore Qalandars, it’s the people that struck me. They’ve got great owners and the [open player trials] had over 113,000 try out for the Qalandars and that’s the reach cricket can have around the world.
“That instantly attracted me to the Qalandars. It’s great to be involved. We’re a team effort, we’ve got a great team researching the data behind it and that gives us a really good chance of getting the team we’re after.”
The draw for the second edition of the PSL largely stuck to the script, with the majority of the franchises happy to retain their players rather than shake up their playing squads.
Other notable deals were announced in advance of the draft, as was the case with Chris Gayle’s trade to Karachi Kings from Quetta Gladiators, the West Indian opener being the second name out of the hat.
“It’s a great feeling to actually be a part of the Karachi Kings, it takes a King to be a part of the Kings,” said the ever modest Gayle.
“Qalandars, thank you guys but I’m in a new team now and it’s new goals. [Karachi Kings coach] Mickey Arthur, I’ve been around his coaching methods and I know him well and I’m looking forward to entertaining people as much as possible.”
Of the new faces in the league, England captain Eoin Morgan [Peshawar Zalmi], Sunil Narine [Lahore Qalandars] and Kieron Pollard [Karachi Kings] all went in the Platinum round of picks.
West Indies’ T20I captain Carlos Brathwaite [Quetta Qalandars] was another newbie on the move, this time in the Diamond section, while Yasir Shah was finally snapped up by the Qalandars having missed last year’s tournament after being banned by the ICC for a failed drug test.
One of the biggest surprises came in the Peshawar Zalmi setup as last year’s captain Shahid Afridi announced that retained West Indian Darren Sammy would lead the team in 2017.
“You have not been respected by your board but I believe I can show you the respect a champion deserves,” said Afridi shortly after announcing that Younis Khan would play the role as batting coach and mentor for Peshawar.
While a number of franchises have retained the majority of their squads for next season, there are a number of local and international players up for selection still.
Among those players are three from the UAE; Ahmed Raza, Rohan Mustafa and Mohammad Naveed.
You can see whether they get selected from the silver category as the first UAE players to make the cut in a premier T20 league and if the franchises decide to spend big or spring a surprise or two RIGHT HERE on Sport360.com.
Incumbent chairman of the PSL, Najam Sethi, will also step aside from his role and each franchise will play some role in the formation of the board of directors.
Sethi announced the plans, to go ahead next month, at a book launch for inaugural winners Islamabad United and explained that the decision was made in order to create more transparency in the league.
“We are in the process of setting up the PSL as a private entity,” said Sethi. “The rules we have formulated have two important developments that will take place next month.
“The company will be formed, it will have a majority of non-executive outside directors, not from the [Pakistan] Cricket Board. One amongst them will be the chairman of the PSL, I will not be the chairman of the PSL. The chairman of the PSL will be an outside director. It will be a man of impeccable credentials.
“Number two, we will bring all the franchises into the board in one form or another. All the major decisions regarding the PSL, the franchises will be part and parcel of that. That is the only way to move forward. These franchises have put their money where their mouth is and are working hard to get the benefits of the PSL flowing.
“Amongst those benefits are the issues of grassroots cricket, talent hunts and the creation of fans and so on and so forth.”
Sethi explained that “controversies” from last year’s tournament must be eradicated, pointing to concerns over the draft procedure as something that must not be repeated again.
He did not explicitly mention those issues but it is apparent that some franchises were unhappy with how the draft was conducted.
“Next year, for PSL two we will have a system whereby some of the controversies that may have cropped up this year regarding the draft are removed. There will be a much more transparent and much more independent process,” said Sethi.
“I am acutely aware that this project cannot be tainted by likes and dislikes and transactions that are not transparent. And if there’s one legacy I would like to leave behind, it is this; that we in Pakistan have created a project that defied all the odds, but not only that continued to survive and grow.”
One of the other main areas of concern for Sethi was the PCB’s involvement in the PSL, raising issues of a possible conflict of interest between the parties.
The PSL was seen as an enormous success in its first edition and boasted profits of $2.6m last year.
It is yet to be disclosed how future profits will be distributed but it seems any potential revenue streams will go back into the franchises and the league. The main aim of this would be to support their outreaches into the respective communities via such programmes as the talent hunts that have proved enormously popular in recent months.
“The rules and regulations that [the directors of PCB] make in their infinite wisdom are to do with the interest that they represent,” explained Sethi who is also chairman of the PCB executive committee.
“My idea was that the PSL should not succumb to regional or departmental interests and that it should be independent of those because this was a completely new departure. When you bring the private sector into an organisation such as the PCB, the chances are that the vested interests of the elected people may encroach on the professionalism required to run a league like this.”