The National T20 Cup, which was held in Rawalpindi, concluded this Thursday with Lahore Blues emerging as the champions after a day-night finale in Rawalpindi.
When the tournament commenced, cricket followers were excited to see the national stars in action. But some of the big names left for Bangladesh midway through the event to participate in the country’s lucrative league. As a result, the national event lost gloss and failed to attract good crowds at the stadium.
It was a very surprising decision from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to allow players to be part of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) while a premier domestic tournament was under way.
It is understandable that if the PCB didn’t release the players for BPL, the Bangladesh Cricket Board might bar its players from featuring in the third edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) to be held in February-March 2018.
The four-day domestic matches in Pakistan are not widely followed by cricket fans. The simple reason is that people have no interest in a game played between WAPDA and NBP or other departments, unless both teams have huge stars. The matches are mostly tedious and non-competitive, and the ground conditions are pathetic.
Pakistan have been forced to play their ‘home’ series in the UAE ever since the 2009 militant attack on the Sri Lankan team. Even when Pakistan last hosted a Test, against Sri Lanka in Lahore eight years ago, there were more policemen than fans in the stadium.
Twenty20 cricket provides an action-packed atmosphere on the ground and usually attracts crowds. Many cricketers around the world have turned to T20 cricket in a bid to prolong their career and pocket millions of dollars.
The PCB has done nothing to improve the standard of domestic cricket and kept adopting outrageous policies which are damaging the sport.
The incompetence of the PCB officials can be gauged by the fact that even a common man is aware that the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi remain cold and receive showers between December and March. Many a match of the National T20 Cup were postponed because of severe smog in Punjab. Karachi would have been an ideal venue as the weather is suitable here almost throughout the year.
Moreover, it has been learnt that the PCB gave the regions money to prepare kits for their teams. To add insult to the injury, the kits were of substandard quality and couldn’t protect the players from cold.
Not only this, the draft for the PSL-III was conducted prior to the T20 event, which shows the non-seriousness of the PCB.
The players who didn’t represent any franchise in the previous edition of the PSL will not be able to get picked for the next year edition even if they shone in the T20 Cup. How can you breathe life into a tournament and expect national players to take part in the domestic circuit when they know that playing or not playing will not affect their selection?
The National T20 Cup was earlier scheduled in September but was postponed due to the arrival of the World XI.
The scheduling of the event created a lot of uncertainty among the players. In August, the board revoked the No-Objection Certificates of 13 players participating in the Caribbean Premier League and the English domestic season, asking them to return home and fulfill national and domestic commitments, including the T20 Cup. However, a few days later, PCB chairman Najam Sethi said the National T20 Cup had been postponed and the players could return to their franchise sides after undergoing fitness tests.
Pakistan cricket has suffered a lot due to the ill-planning by some individuals. If the PCB officials have any dignity left in them, they should work for the betterment of the sport rather than their own vested interests. It has been said time and again that the domestic structure of cricket in Pakistan needs a radical overhaul. Only then will we be able to fully overcome the issues facing the sport.