Injured West Indies opening batsman Chris Gayle is among several West Indians who will be part of the newest Twenty20 Tournament to hit the global stage early next year.
Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Samuel Badree and Dwayne Bravo are some of the prominent players who will feature in the inaugural Pakistan Super League (PSL), a franchise-based T20 tournament to be held in Doha in February 2016.
Gayle recently indicated his unavailability to play international cricket for the West Indies, citing pending surgery to rectify a longstanding back complaint.
The agency that manages Gayle, one of the most valuable Twenty20 players, confirmed that he had signed the pre-draft agreement yesterday. Darren Sammy and Sunil Narine along with former England batsman Owais Shah will also be part of the PSL draft pool. It is understood that the Pakistan Cricket Board, owners of PSL, are seeking at least 25 overseas players for the tournament.
Sri Lankans Lasith Malinga, Angelo Mathews and Thishara Perrera are among those also reportedly signed on to the PSL.
“Obviously top guns like Gayle are stars who attract fans,” Najam Sethi, head of PCB Executive committee, said. “They lend commercial value, showbiz glitz and tournament credibility. They are also sources of inspiration and emulation for our budding players.”
Narine has also made himself unavailable for West Indies duty, citing lingering personal doubts over the readiness of his bowling action for international cricket. Narine has thrice been called within the past year for a suspect action while playing in Twenty20 domestic tournaments in India.
The first edition of PSL will feature five franchise-based teams from the provincial capitals –– Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta and Islamabad –– with prize money of $1 million. The tournament is scheduled to run from February 4 to 24 and will feature 24 matches.
This will be the first major cricket tournament hosted by the Qatar capital, which will also host the 2022 edition of the football World Cup. The PCB had originally wanted to conduct the PSL in the UAE, where Pakistan have been playing their international matches.
But they were forced to look for an alternative venue after being told by the Emirates Cricket Board that it was hosting the Masters Champions league (Twenty20 tournament featuring retired cricketers) on same dates.
The PSL matches will be played at the West End Park International Cricket Stadium, with a capacity of about 13,000. Last year it was used for a women’s limited-overs tri-series involving Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
Last week, the PCB had roped in former captains Ramiz Raja and Wasim Akram as ambassadors for the first season. Both of them had been tied with the Masters Champions League, but Akram said, “I’m up for leaving anything for Pakistan cricket. I don’t want to earn money by playing cricket but instead want to give something back to my nation. We signed with MCL and had to work for them, but my priority is to help our country’s cause.”
The logo of the PSL will be revealed in a ceremony on September 20, but the PCB said finding stakeholders to bid for the franchises and the broadcast rights is still a work in progress.
The ICC World Twenty20 Tournament in India comes immediately after the Doha tourney from March 11 to April 3.