A five-team Pakistan Super League is set to get underway at the end of March with around 30 foreign cricketers expected to play.
The Twenty20 event is being planned by the Pakistan Cricket Board along the lines of leagues in other major test playing countries such as India, South Africa, England, and Sri Lanka – with foreign players being signed up by franchises.
India and Bangladesh have refused, to play in Pakistan but the players have contacted PCB for taking apart in Pakistan Super League.
The PCB has hired Haroon Lorgat, the former chief executive of the International Cricket Council, as its adviser for the PSL which will feature teams from different cities for the first three years.
“This is a league in excess of a US$100 million,” Lorgat told reporters at the logo unveiling ceremony. However, he did not say how long it would take to generate that level of revenue.
The PSL is set to stage 23 matches over 12 days in a city yet to be finalised, but probably either Karachi or Lahore. Each team will have a squad of at least six foreigners, who will join 10 Pakistani players. Organisers plan to expand the event to eight teams in 2016 and hold 59 matches over a period of one month.
Lorgat said he was in touch with various sponsors outside Pakistan and had received some positive responses.
“People do not underestimate the potential that exist for the league in Pakistan,” he said. “Many issues are being tackled in parallel, for example your broadcaster, your sponsors, your franchise owners, but I am confident it will happen.”
Pakistan has not hosted a foreign team since gunmen attacked Sri Lanka’s team bus at Lahore in 2009, killing six police officers and a van driver.
The PCB has made several attempts to attract foreign teams, but so far it has not succeeded in convincing any test-playing nation that it’s safe to play in Pakistan. The Bangladesh Cricket Board has twice postponed a scheduled short tour to Pakistan over the last 10 months.
“Every ICC member country has the right to host its own professional league,” Lorgat said. “Pakistan has done hard work and I hope with foreign players’ participation, perceptions about the country will change.”
Zaka Ashraf, chairman of the PCB, said he had talked with officials of several cricket boards about sending players to the PSL.
“We have received a positive response from Sri Lanka Cricket, Cricket Australia and even South Africa,” Ashraf said.
“This is not merely an opportunity for our cricketers to display their talents. It’s an opportunity to showcase Pakistan as a safe and vibrant nation for cricket.”