LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is expecting moderate financial losses in the targets set for the uncompleted HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) and it may hold the league’s semi-finals and the final either in November before the T20 Wold Cup or before the next edition of the PSL.

In a video conference with the sports journalists from print media held on Saturday, PCB chief executive Wasim Khan to a question said the PCB might face some losses from the original PSL targets that it had set.

“The losses are in terms of the targets which were set keeping in view the smooth completion of the PSL show. But as the semi-finals and the final are yet to be played and two matches have been rained off, for which tickets will be refunded, we may face some losses,” said Wasim.

It may be mentioned here that overall it was expected that the PCB would be earning huge profits in the fifth PSL edition compared to the last four which were mostly held in the UAE. The PCB had to hire the grounds in Dubai and Abu Dhabi at exorbitant rates as well as the hotel accommodation which proved very costly in the UAE. All that cost was surely saved by the PCB this season since for the first time all 30 matches were held in Pakistan at PCB’s own stadia with most of the matches played in front of packed houses.

Wasim said the PCB had succeeded in holding the PSL in a professional manner and tackled all the problems professionally, a fact that was appreciated by all the stakeholders.

“All our guest cricketers and officials went back completely satisfied and this will definitely increase their trust on the PCB and they will come back next year with more confidence,” said Wasim.

However, he admitted some shortcomings were indeed noticed and the PCB will try its best to remove those in the next season.

“It was not an easy task to hold such a large number of matches in Pakistan at this level. But we are reviewing our arrangements to make further improvements in the next edition,” he said.

He added that since the franchises are partners of the PCB in PSL, the profits and losses would be shared as per the earlier SOP.

Wasim further said that in case the PCB could not hold the semi-finals and the final, any decision to decide the winner of the PSL on the basis of the matches held in season V will be taken with the consensus of the franchises.

“The prize money does not matter for the franchises, the real important thing for them is to decide the winner of the league,” observed Wasim.

When asked if the availability of the players in November would be a problem for the franchises when the semi-finals and the final are held, Wasim agreed that it could be an issue but added it was just a suggestion and the PCB was searching for a suitable window to hold the three remaining matches, definitely before the start of the next PSL.

Another problem in that case, he said, could be of the players’ draft which had to be done some three months before the start of the next PSL.

“There will also be some concern whether the franchises could get back same players they had with them this year or not.”

Meanwhile, when asked if the PCB had any concern about the abilities of Misbah as a coach since his team Islamabad United failed to make the semi-finals of the league, Wasim said: “We have no concern over Misbah’s performances as it was just a four-week event. In fact for the last two months, the Pakistan team under Misbah is making progress and we are satisfied with it. We already made it clear through media in the past that Misbah should get at least one year to prove his credentials. And since both T20 Asia Cup and the T20 World Cup are in the offing this year plus a few bilateral series are also coming up, it will be enough to review Misbah’s performance.”

To a question, he said the PCB had also taken notice of the statements made by Mohammad Hafeez about Sharjeel Khan and by wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan about Karachi Kings skipper Imad Wasim which they issued during the PSL. “No player is allowed to give his personal opinion about other players as it is the domain of the PCB to deal with these matters according to rules and regulations,” said Wasim.

He said since Sharjeel Khan had resumed cricket after completing the term of his ban in a spot-fixing scam and had also completed the rehab process, he was now eligible to play for Pakistan.

Under the current circumstances amid the fast-spreading coronavirus, the PCB is looking uncertain to start its domestic cricket season. However, it intends to focus on how to improve the domestic structures, including the formation of the new bodies at provincial and city levels to start decentrailisation, which has been pending since Aug 19, 2019 when the new PCB constitution was introduced.

To a question, Wasim agreed that as there was uncertainty looming over the domestic and international matches due to the epidemic, the PCB would be focussed on dealing with the domestic issues including the formation of the provincial and city level associations in an attempt to decentralise the working.

He said after the formation, all the city and provincial associations would be independent in running their affairs and maintaining their grounds.

He said though more than 240 groundsmen and curators had been disassociated as they were working for the defunct regional bodies and there were many ghost employees, under the decentralised system it would be up to the city and provincial bodies to hire their services.

Wasim further said the PCB had not received anything officially from the England and Wales Cricket Board about hosting Pakistan-England matches in the West Indies due to the corona virus. But he admitted that due to the virus, the activities of all the sports have been hit badly and cricket could not be an exception in this.

Outlining Pakistan’s assignments this year, Wasim said Pakistan had to tour Holland, Ireland and England besides participating in the T20 Asia and World Cups as well as hold a good number of matches at the domestic level. “But the clouds of uncertainty would be looming over the schedule until we see an end to the coronavirus pandemic.”

Wasim highly praised the response of home fans throughout PSL V.

“In Multan alone, over 65,000 fans watched the three matches and similarly fantastic crowds were seenat Rawalpindi despite the rain and all that shows their love for the game. Of course in Karachi and Lahore, the crowds were very good like always.”

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2020