A league of extraordinary gentlemen

This is more than cricket

It was a cracker of a match, the PSL final, played down to the wire. Suffice to say, those who paid for the ticket did get their money’s worth. It was the same two teams that faced off against each other in last year’s final and, again, the Lahore Qalandars carried the day.

The Pakistan Super League is a success. From its early days, with the tournament being played in the UAE, easing into some, and then more, matches being played in Pakistan, to being played completely in Pakistan. A long tough slog, from the unfortunate attack on the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in 2009.

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Right from its inception, in its humble everything-in-UAE days, the PSL has produced local talent like nothing before. For a team thought to be facing a dark future, with the simultaneous retirement of Shahid Afridi and Younis Khan, talent discovered in the PSL brought home the Champions Trophy in 2017, a tournament our team had barely qualified to play in the first place.

And now, not only does it produce stellar talent for the national cricket team, it also provides this service for other international teams as well, with players from Australia and England having secured a slot in their respective teams after being discovered in the PSL.

All of this didn’t happen overnight. It required a complete ownership of the League by the PCB, regardless of who was helming it. It required government cooperation, specially regarding security details. It required commitments by both the sponsors and the team, the latter having paid hefty licensing fees. And, of course, it required the loyal viewing public to do what it does best: follow the game passionately.

The draft system makes the teams evenly matched up, making all the games interesting, a point increasingly being remarked from across the border.

Yes, the League has generated a lot of economic activity and the government revenue associated with it, but its effect on the economy isn’t just the numbers. It is also the warm fuzzy feeling. It inspires confidence in Pakistan, not just within the country but also from abroad.

At a time when there has been a spot of anti-Pashtun sentiment in Lahore, two Pashtun captains squared off against each other and gave one spectacle of a match. Pashtun activists usually say that anti-Afghan sentiment is actually sublimated anti-Pashtun sentiment, but one would be hard pressed to find a constituency in Lahore where the Qalandars’ craftsman of a spinner, Rashid Khan, won’t win were he to be granted the right to contest an election.

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Cricket unites. Let’s play more of it.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].


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