Youngsters set to showcase talent as Pakistan Junior League starts today

Published October 6, 2022
LAHORE: Captains of the six Pakistan Junior League teams pose with the trophy at the Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday. —M. Arif/White Star
LAHORE: Captains of the six Pakistan Junior League teams pose with the trophy at the Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday. —M. Arif/White Star

LAHORE: Finally, the wait is over as the young guns of Pakistan cricket get ready for the grand Twenty20 show.

Prior to the tournament opener between the Giants and the Warriors, an action-packed curtain raiser will be on display at the Gaddafi Stadium from 6:15pm featuring dazzling fireworks and dynamic performances from popular youth band Young Stunners and renowned singer Asim Azhar. The match will begin at 7:30pm (PST).

The inaugural Pakistan Junior League (PJL) — featuring top U-19 campaigners of Pakistan as well as foreign players — explodes into action under lights here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Thursday.

The colourful 16-day event includes players from as many as 10 countries besides Pakistan.

Each of the six participating teams has a 15-man squad including four foreign and 11 local players. Every squad contains four Elite Category, five Premier Category and six X-Factor Category players.

The teams competing in the inaugural edition are Bahawalpur Royals, Gujranwala Giants, Gwadar Sharks, Hyderabad Hunters, Mardan Warriors and Rawalpindi Raiders.

All 19 matches of the event, including four playoffs, will be played on single-league round-robin format at the Gaddafi Stadium. The final will be held under the GSL lights on Oct 21.

The budding players of PJL can feel extremely lucky as they will be with the greats of the game — Javed Miandad, Sir Vivian Richards, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Darren Sammy, Imran Tahir and Colin Munro — as mentors.

It is the first time that such an event is being organised by any board of a cricket-playing nation.

First the PCB was anticipating to generate sufficient funds through this novel activity. However, a poor response from the sponsors forced the PCB to bear all the expenses. The PCB did not reveal any budget, it had estimated for PJL, which it wants to organise like a world-class event.

Interestingly, PCB chairman Ramiz Raja, when he was asked during a recent media conference, had refused to share the estimated budget the Board set for the PJL.

A number of former cricketers have criticised the idea of PJL, which is the brainchild of Ramiz. He is pinning his hopes on this tournament to produce some quality cricketers for Pakistan’s national team.

It may be mentioned here that for the last many years the PCB has continued to overlook its ‘A’ and national junior teams for their foreign tours — which can give promising youngsters much needed exposure at an early age — and the position more or less remains the same. It has been a practice world over to send ‘A’ and junior teams to other countries to help develop polished cricketers for national team in future.

While the PJL winners will get Rs10 million besides the glittering trophy the runners-up will pocket Rs5 million. Each player will also get match fees ranging from around $16,000 to 22,000 in different categories. A handsome remuneration is also being paid to the mentors.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2022

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