PSL franchises, corporates on board for inaugural Pakistan Junior League

The inaugural Pakistan Junior League will be played from October 1 to 15, featuring six teams and 19 games, at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium. It is also understood that, after the PCB invited corporate entities to be a part of the tournament, there were as many as 24 companies that came forward with a desire to be involved in different capacities. And at least three of the six existing PSL franchises are also believed to be interested in buying teams.

The PCB feels there is enough interest to attract commercial partners, and is hopeful of roping in Pakistani legends as mentors and coaches.

“I am delighted, encouraged and motivated by the response we have received to the Pakistan Junior League’s Request for Expressions of Interest,” Ramiz Raja, the PCB chairman, said in a statement on Friday. “This feedback has strengthened my belief and confidence that we have a huge appetite for cricket and a strong commercial market, which is keen, eager and happy to partner with the PCB on its projects of introducing new properties so that we can strengthen ourselves financially and commercially, and the return on investments are shared with all cricketers.

“Following the success of the Pakistan Super League and the ever-improving reputation of the PCB, the potential sponsors have shown excitement and expressed their interest in the city-based Pakistan Junior League in their endeavour to play an important role in helping the PCB to create an environment of brilliance by providing a clear pathway to the talented youngsters, which, in turn, will fortify our bench-strength and produce new national stars and heroes.”

The plan for a franchise-based T20 league for junior cricketers – locals with a smattering of overseas players – was communicated by the PCB two weeks ago. The aim is to pick players from the 15-19 age group through a draft process. The PCB has confirmed that all overseas cricketers will be allowed to have a parent accompany them, with the cost to be footed either by the organisers or the franchises.

The domestic cricket structure in Pakistan has been subject to a lot of rejigging over the years but the pathway for age-group players has mostly been structured, featuring levels between the Under-15s and the Under-19s. Historically, the age-group players have been nurtured through longer-format games, playing two- or three-day games alongside one-dayers.

They have not really been exposed to the T20 format during their development phase in accordance with PCB regulations. The exception has been the PSL, where each franchise is required to field at least one emerging player in every game. That has led to quite a few new faces coming to the fore over the years.

(With Inputs from ESPN)

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