LAHORE: Pakistan Super League (PSL) chairman Najam Sethi disclosed on Wednesday that some foreign players had agreed to play the final of the second edition of the league in Lahore after being assured of fool-proof security.
Sethi however stopped short of naming the players, emphasising that he will try his best to hold the showpiece match of the country’s glitzy T20 league here after the successful first edition in the United Arab Emirates.
“I will not disclose the names of the foreign players who have agreed to play in Lahore but I can assure you that the final here will be bigger than the one held in the UAE,” Sethi told reporters at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) while visiting a training camp set up by PSL side Peshawar Zalmi.
“We’re offering extra money, as much as US$20,000 each to foreign players to play the final in Lahore. We’re building 14 new rooms in the NCA to provide accommodation to the foreign players for the PSL matches.”
Zalmi are holding a short camp at the NCA in order to prepare a back-up stock for their main side with 27 players, picked from far-flung areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa taking part.
Sethi said that the success of the PSL has fuelled a cash influx in the game here.
“The PSL is the biggest gift to the nation from the PCB,” Sethi declared. “Its success has seen major changes in national tournaments. We now have to fill our stadiums again.
“It will help increase the fan following of the PSL teams, ultimately increasing their prices as they will attract more sponsors.”
Sethi revealed that the franchises were against increasing the number of franchises from five to six for the second edition of the PSL.
“We want to have eight teams competing in the PSL in future,” he said. “I wanted to include a sixth team with the name of Kashmir, but there were some reservations from different quarters.”
The former Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief, who is now chairman of the powerful PCB executive committee, dispelled the impression that he was a candidate for the PCB chairman’s post and wanted the incumbent Shaharyar Khan to resign.
“I have a great deal of respect for Shaharyar,” Sethi said. “He always consults me over the administrative matters and that is his best quality.”
He negated the impression that he had failed to deliver during his time as the country’s cricket chief.
“Let me know which Test series Pakistan lost during my tenure,” he shot back when asked if Shaharyar’s decision of hiring Mickey Arthur as the national team coach had paid immediate dividends with Pakistan winning the first Test of their four-match series against England at Lord’s last week.
“Shaharyar has meanwhile extended the contracts of both Grant Flower and Grant Luden as batting and fielding coaches and both of them were hired by me,” he added.
On the dismissal of Waqar Younis as head coach and Haroon Rasheed as chief selector, he said: “Their contracts were expiring and we decided not to renew them.”
Earlier, Zalmi coach Mohammad Akram said that they will pick the best 15 players from the camp with the selected ones getting a monthly stipend and free education.
“In the next phase, under-16 players will be picked for a four-year training programme to prepare a back-up for the team,” Akram said. “We’ve also hired former Pakistan players like Mohammad Yousuf and Rashif Latif to help groom the players.”
Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2016