THE Pakistan Cricket Board’s recent announcement that the remaining matches of the Pakistan Super League’s sixth edition would resume from June 1 has not met with a lot of enthusiasm because of the resurgence of the coronavirus in the region. Besides, several key overseas players who appeared in the League in February-March, might not be available this time because of international commitments. PSL-6 came to an abrupt halt in March with just 14 out of 34 matches completed after seven people participating in the tournament tested positive for Covid-19, amid reports of gross violation of the bio-secure environment by players, officials and franchise owners. Concerns about the safety of players and fans are bound to increase if the matches resume in a month’s time — the third wave of the virus has been particularly harsh and has already resulted in a large number of deaths in the country. Besides, the franchises themselves, although they have invested millions of rupees in the League, are concerned about how the absence of some big cricketing names could dent the popularity and competitiveness of the matches. The PCB, which came under scathing criticism for its poor handling of PSL-6 in March, has vowed to make foolproof arrangements for the remaining games in June that would include robust and strict implementation of the protocols as well as maintaining a zero-tolerance approach towards all those who breach the SOPs. The cricket governing body has also decided to hire a globally recognised safety management company that specialises in providing Covid-safe technology solutions.
Having said that, nothing can be predicted about the severity of the pandemic nor of the response of the players or the public if PSL-6 matches do go ahead in June as scheduled. Hopefully, the PCB will promptly reschedule the remaining League games after assessing the situation towards the end of this month and not take any undue risks that could damage Pakistan’s flagship cricket event and hurt its credibility.
Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2021