What Najam conceives Sethi delivers

What Najam conceives; Sethi delivers.

By Chishty Mujahid - March 17, 2018

Najam Sethi has the acumen, planning abilities coupled with excellent administrative powers, financial support and good fortune to deliver successfully what he promises. He does not make tall commitments without weighing the pros and cons of a project.

He said he would eradicate any hanky panky in PSL and his efforts have yielded positive results. He seems to have cleansed PSL of the hydra headed monster of match / spot fixing. Well played sir. A living testimony to this is the roaring success of the PSL. Najam worked on a 6th team for the PSL and succeeded in getting the team from Multan at a reported price of a whopping 54 million US dollars.

The World Cup Qualifiers are in progress in Zimbabwe. They deserve to host this event and make some money and gain recognition. They have spent too much time in isolation and poverty. With Faisal Hasnain heading the ZCU there is a distinct possibility that things will turn around sooner than later

The Multan Sultans (a rather pompous name for the land of saints and dervishes)  like some other teams are owned by expatriate Pakistani business group who were exiled from Pakistan in 1997-98 and returned to the fold only after paying US$ 65 million to the government. The Schon group which was started by a former PIA pilot Ather Husain Schon is now headed by his son Nasir who runs a very successful and lucrative business based in Dubai.

They are reported to be the fourth or fifth richest family in Pakistan – herein perhaps lies the answer to those asking how can anyone pay that sum of money (after all it is loose change for them). The cruelty of all this is that the Schon brothers had to dish out 54 million (be it paltry from their standards) while Nadeem Umar bagged the Quetta franchise for a mere 11 million.

How the franchises balance their books is their job and I do not have the foggiest idea and in any case who am I to ask? I have never been able to understand how the franchises get the returns on their investment and I am not bothered as long the PSL provides fun, frolic and entertainment for the fans be it outside Pakistan.

Now in its third edition it has gained in popularity and status to be one of the leading and possibly the richest leagues in the world of cricket. Leagues (and bashes) seem to be the order of the day. Most cricket playing countries have now floated their own leagues following in the footsteps of the highly successful Indian Premier League.  Australia, England, the West Indies and now Pakistan all now have firmly established leagues while Afghanistan is set to roll out its league.

Sri Lanka is reviving its dormant league which became defunct after one season. There is also talk of South Africa resurrecting its aborted Global League and the UAE is also getting ready to join this merry band. There will be leagues galore being played around the world and round the clock. Great. What will happen to Test Cricket and One Day cricket? They will go into oblivion but who cares as long as the 20/20 and later on the 10/10 will be coming in vogue. There is more money, less time, greater fun plus all the silly goings on in the stands as companies advertise their products.

The commentators will become multi-lingual with ridiculous pronunciations of other languages’ words and they will have to put in more efforts and practice into their singing and dancing skills which currently are very embarrassing to say the least. To the detractors I say times have changed (tabdeeli aa naheen rahi hai aa gaee hai – to quote one of the greatest cricketers ever).  Let the new generation enjoy themselves. They may look foolish to the older lot but it is their life; let them lead the way they desire.

All this change will prove problematic for that toothless tiger the ICC. This body overstaffed by persons who have sinecures will become redundant. Some time down the road the Boards of individual countries will have to be dissolved and the cricket management and affairs taken over by those who dish out the dollars i.e. the franchisees.

How the franchises balance their books is their job and I do not have the foggiest idea and in any case who am I to ask? I have never been able to understand how the franchises get the returns on their investment and I am not bothered as long the PSL provides fun, frolic and entertainment for the fans be it outside Pakistan

Some are already cribbing that they should have more say in how these leagues should be run. And they have every right to complain. After all they are financing the costs of the entire show. What all this is leading to is the privatization of cricket. This after all will not be a bad idea. Hopefully this move will throw up a few more talented men like Najam Sethi.

Now back to the current circus in the UAE called the PSL 3. I do not have the time or patience to sit through all the proceedings as they overlap with other important news, current affairs and sports programmes on the Television. And there are more serious and important things happening in our country and the world.  The fans are being fed a surfeit of cricket and there is the possibility that the “appetite may sicken and so die” – as Shakespeare put it.

The World Cup Qualifiers are in progress in Zimbabwe. They deserve to host this event and make some money and gain recognition. They have spent too much time in isolation and poverty. With Faisal Hasnain heading the ZCU there is a distinct possibility that things will turn around sooner than later.

Australia are touring South Africa. The teams from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India are locked in battle for the Nidahas Trophy in Sri Lanka. A recent state of emergency because of anti-Muslim riots there had no effect whatsoever on this event. A credit to strength, resolve and stature of the three boards. Had something similar happened here the teams would have taken fright and flight haste post haste.

And we would also have packed our kits and luggage and headed for the UAE. England are touring New Zealand; while the Women of various countries are also involved in tournaments and series. The Australian Women are on tour to India while the West Indian Women are playing against New Zealand Women in New Zealand. Then there is the Women World Cup Qualifier about to kick off.

The PSL 3’s opening ceremony was world class. It must have cost a fortune but then money is not the problem. PSL’s coffers are overflowing. The shrewd Sethi has silenced any detractors by shipping a whole contingent of media persons to Dubai.

80 people are on a junket is what is reported. I was told that the head honcho of PCB Media has given the reason to send so many media persons to Dubai as many had not seen Dubai before. Give that to the marines, as the Americans say. PSL is not a tourist company yet. If this report is wrong (I personally find it difficult to fathom) my apologies.

The teams have roller coasted or yo yoed from being No 1 to being No 5. Lahore are the only ones who have refused to budge from their No 6 (last) slot. All that song and dance on a leading TV Channel, the hype, the money spent, the travels taken, the trials and tests organized including visits by teams to Australia seem to have brought nothing but failure. Of the six teams they are one of the two (Peshawar are the other) who have foreign captains (Brendon McCullum).

Their combination seems to be all wrong . However they have at last broken the jinx in their 7th or is it 8th match through the 17 year old sensation Shaheen Shah Afridi (move over Shahid here come Shaheen) who took 5 for 4 to send the powerful Multan team packing. It is conjectured now that the jinx has been broken Lahore will be on a winning lap!!

Others who have done well are mostly foreigners who are retired or on the verge – Shane Watson, Kevin Petersen, Luke Ronchi, Kumar Sangakarra to name a few. The Pakistanis to have impressed are the old warhorse Shoaib Malik and ever faithful Babar Azam and the “discarded” Umar Gul who captured six wickets and then reported unfit (that creaking knee again?) Shahid Afridi failed with the bat but was his wily self with the ball and a live wire on the field. But the strain also put him out of a couple of matches.

All attention is now on who will make the last four and the semis and the final. With the ding dong battles going on, big scores to begin with and then collapsing in a heap it is any body’s guess. The semi finals will be at the Gaddafi in Lahore under the hawk eye of the armed forces, the rangers , the police together with Sethi’s band of followers.

The final will be in Karachi in spite of what people may say about the state of the stadium. I have as always applied to buy tickets for some friends and I appeal to all fans to do the same. There are no complementariness.

That is how Najam works. Once again the armed forces, the rangers the police and entire Sindh government machinery will work overtime to make the final in Karachi’s NSK a success. Let us cooperate with them and make this PSL 3 final memorable.

By Chishty Mujahid

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