Cricket stars happy to play PSL in Pakistan - Aaqib Javed

Sport360 staff 20:38 25/06/2016
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  • Foreign imports are already “willing” to travel to Pakistan as part of the PSL, according to new Lahore Qalandars director of cricket Aaqib Javed.

    Despite being restricted by a packed international schedule of T20 cricket in its first year, the likes of Chris Gayle, Kevin Pietersen, Shane Watson and Kumar Sangakkara played in the PSL, which took place in Dubai and Sharjah as Pakistan’s international exile continued.

    The 2017 PSL is slated to be held in the UAE again but there are reportedly plans afoot to take some games to Pakistan, with the ultimate goal of returning international cricket to the country.

    And Javed, who left his post as UAE coach last month to join the Qalandars, believes that it will be far easier to tempt players back to Pakistan through the PSL.

    “Lahore Qalandars have already had negotiations with foreign players who are willing to come and play in Pakistan,” Javed revealed to Sport360. “I think the PSL is a good lead. “Convincing a whole team to tour Pakistan is really difficult but you can convince a few players to play for your franchise.

    Pakistan exile timeline

    • Mar 2009 - Attack made on Sri Lanka team bus
    • UAE host matches from that year
    • Sep 2015 - Zimbabwe first international team to tour Pakistan
    • Feb 2016 - PSL opens, raising new hopes

    “An individual player needs to only have a clearance from their board and that is it. For a whole team it’s from your foreign office and your government – there is so much more at stake.

    “So, I think this is the best time to bring some sort of international players to Pakistan. Maybe a few games this year but I’m really confident that next year there will be a few games that the PSL has at home.”

    Javed has been recruited by the Qalandars after calling time on his four-year stint with the UAE and joins a franchise that foundered in the inaugural tournament, finishing bottom and registering just two wins from eight matches.

    That was in spite of boasting local talents such as Umar Akmal and Azhar Ali, alongside T20 heavyweights Gayle and his West Indies compatriot, Dwayne Bravo.

    Javed explained that although he is confident of turning around their fortunes next season, Lahore’s long-term project is to use the PSL as a catalyst to unearthing talent in the region.

    “To start with we will do a talent hunt programme and development plans. The short-term plan is to get two or three emerging players through that activity,” said Javed.

    “The medium term is focused on 19/20-year-old players. We want to get them on a contract and get them through the team in the next two years, and then get some new players in on the same basis.

    “The long-term is really exciting and that is leading towards an international sports school in Pakistan which would see us going all across Pakistan and getting all the best talent from Under-10 and U12 and training them at the same time as international levels. That is a really exciting project.”