The league phenomenon

June 28, 2018 | By

Cricket’s shorter formats are getting more and more popular these days with all kinds of tournaments coming up. Twenty20 leagues are being held in almost all major cricket-playing countries while seeds of T10s have been sowed in the United Arab Emirates.

The England and Wales Cricket Board is planning a 100-ball tournament with the last over of the innings consisting of 10 balls. This plan is getting mixed reactions but most are in favour of such an event.

The England and Wales Cricket Board is planning a 100-ball tournament with the last over of the innings consisting of 10 balls. This plan is getting mixed reactions but most are in favour of such an event.

However for now, Twenty20s remain the most followed format. Australia holds the Big Bash League, England hosts the T20 Blast and then there are the Caribbean Premier League and the Bangladesh Premier League, while South Africa has planned the T20 Global League. The United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan are also planning to organise Twenty20 tournaments. But the most talked about events are the Indian Premier League and the Pakistan Super League.

Let’s see some of the similarities and differences between the leagues of the two neighbouring countries.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India organised the inaugural eight-team IPL in 2008 and it became an instant hit. The most popular sport in the country being played in its shortest and most entertaining format, cricket stars from all round the globe, professional cheerleaders and presence of Bollywood celebrities was a recipe that was destined to succeed.

The BCCI was successful in luring major sponsors and franchise owners, and money came pouring in. That in turn helped in players getting paid in a way they had never imagined. The players make money, the franchises make money and the board makes a lot of money — a win-win situation for everyone.

It has also helped India in unearthing talent. A host of players who were spotted during the league have gone on to play for the national teams. Some of the examples are Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja, and Kedar Jadhav. The 2018 tournament has also thrown up some exciting talent, including youngsters Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill and Mayank Markande.

The biggest advantage the IPL has over other leagues is that it is held at a time when there’s hardly any international cricket being played anywhere. That means that almost all international stars are available and that certainly adds to the tournament’s value. The eight franchises play on a home-and-away basis and the involvement of the passionate crowds packing the stadiums to capacity is a treat to watch.

The Pakistan Super League might be just three years old but has caught the imagination of the people in such a small span of time. It is obviously not as big as the IPL financially but has been doing a decent job for the organisers considering that it is not that old.

Last year’s final and this year’s last three matches were held in Pakistan and all the games were jam-packed. PCB Chairman Najam Sethi, who is also head of the PSL, says the 2019 edition will see around half of the games played in Pakistan.

Just like the IPL, the Pakistan Super League has been vital for the country in finding players for the future. Leg-spinner Shadab Khan, fast bowler Hasan Ali, opening batsman Fakhar Zaman and all-rounder Faheem Ashraf are a few who have done wonders for Pakistan. These players were instrumental in Pakistan’s victory in the last Champions Trophy in England. Similarly, this year’s tournament has brought to the fore players like Asif Ali and Hussain Talat.

 

However, the biggest drawback for the PSL is that the Pakistan Cricket Board has been forced to host the tournament in the United Arab Emirates. That means mostly thin attendances for the matches, particularly on weekdays. Although, a host of international stars have been part of the PSL, it is not held at an idle period in the international cricket calendar and therefore one does not see a lot of current players in the teams.

Last year’s final and this year’s last three matches were held in Pakistan and all the games were jam-packed. PCB Chairman Najam Sethi, who is also head of the PSL, says the 2019 edition will see around half of the games played in Pakistan.

If that happens it will take the tournament to new heights. Slowly but surely international players are starting to trust the security being provided to them in Pakistan and it is not long before we see not only the entire Pakistan Super League being played at home but also the return of international cricket to the country.

Gabriel D'Souza

Gabriel D’Souza is an author at ScoreLine and has written numerous articles published at ScoreLine.org.

He graduated from the University of Punjab and started his career as a sports journalist in June 1992. He is currently a sports editor of ‘The News’ Rawalpindi and Islamabad. He reported on a number of international sporting events including the ICC World Cup, ICC World T20, Bilateral cricket series, Davis Cup of Tennis, Suqash Tournaments and more on sports.

You can connect him on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter

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