AS the curtains came down on the UAE leg of the HBL Pakistan Super League on Sunday night, Dawn caught up with the foreign members of the official broadcaster’s commentary team to get their views on how the 2018 tournament had unfolded for them.

For former Australian opener Michael Slater the PSL gave him the first opportunity of watching a mixed brand of cricket.

“I have really enjoyed the PSL on my first time here and I’ve been really, really surprised by the standard, and not surprised really in that sense, having fun watching the good overseas blokes and the Pakistani players have been terrific. The youngsters coming through are what excited me and up until recent times the fielding has been outstanding. A few catches go down late in the piece, but the fielding has been of the highest standards,” Slater said.

“It has been a busy schedule with lot of games in a short span of time. And I think what is fun about PSL too is you are based in one place and going either to the Dubai ground or going to Sharjah. Why we haven’t seen scores of 200-plus is because of the slow conditions for the first couple of weeks and then batting got better. We didn’t get 200 totals but we’ve seen 180s consistently scored in the last week [of the competition].

“But one thing I will say about this tournament is there have been too many delays and stoppages in the matches because the things maybe hasn’t been processed quickly enough from third umpire’s box to get decisions. If these could be sped more it would be better. Overall, it is a fast and furious game and very hard for the decision-makers and if they get it wrong they have option of overturning the decisions given.”

Alan Wilkins, the former Glamorgan and Gloucestershire all-rounder and well-established cricket and rugby broadcaster, is more qualified among neutral observers than Slater, Danny Morrison and Daren Ganga who joined the TV bandwagon just a few days ago, to comment on the PSL.

“It’s a great tournament to be part of and I’ve done all three years and seen it grow from five teams to six now. We have enjoyed having Multan Sultans as the sixth franchise and made PSL a bigger platform for Pakistan cricket. The competition has intensified because of the quality of the overseas players but more so this year because I think of the response from young Pakistan players has been phenomenal,” the well-mannered Wilkins said.

“Especially those in the Islamabad team when you think of Asif Ali, Hussain Talat, Fahim Ashraf and Shadab Khan. They certainly got some match-winners there and they have responded to the call. And on the other side Mohammad Nawaz and Hassaan Khan for Quetta Gladiators, Mohammad Asghar for Peshawar Zalmi and [Usman Khan] Shinwari for Karachi Kings.

“There are a lot of good players who raised their game because I don’t think they want to be overshadowed. I see this as a platform to perform and alert the selectors what they can do.

“The pitches have been a little on the slower side, particularly in Sharjah. The bowlers have done pretty well and is there any reason not getting a 200-plus total is possibly because of the fact the pitches weren’t as quick as they could have been.

“It’s has been a congested schedule with lot of double headers and the rest days [between matches] have been welcome respite. But I do agree with Slater’s assertion that the matches are taking long with too many delays. In Big Bash there are fines or captains miss matches. Here games are finishing 45 minutes late and that should be look into.”

Ex-New Zealand paceman Morrison hardly needs introduction because of his jovial style of commentary. Personal reason has forced him to skip the Pakistan leg matches but he was overwhelmed by what he saw in Dubai and Sharjah.

“It has been extraordinary and I like six teams. Very condensed but thrilling cricket and some good thriving young talent, which was very excited thing for me. Yeah, I love but I’m sorry can’t come to Pakistan because my wife’s birthday and our wedding anniversary is coming this week,” he equipped.

Ex-West Indies opener Ganga spoke on a different subject though and praised the umpiring quality of Khalid Mahmood, who was only assigned just three of the 31 fixtures as the on-field official.

“Obviously, I came at the backend of the competition whatever I have seen in the last couple of matches, I think Khalid looks a very fine umpire who should be doing international games. He has withstood the pressure remarkably well because there were three reviews which can put any umpire under tremendous pressure but Khalid got all of them correct. That shows his sound decision-making skills,” Ganga remarked.

“In the matches I have commentated, Khalid definitely stands out above all other officials on view.”

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2018

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