LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) took its first step towards the inception of a franchise-based Twenty20 competition for emerging cricketers when it released on Thursday a ‘Request for Expressions of Interest’ in its sponsorships, streaming rights and the teams’ ownership.The tournament has been named the Pakistan Junior League (PJL) and is scheduled to be held in October this year.
It will be a city-based league in which players will be selected in the teams through a draft system involving foreign junior players.
A Pakistan Super League-style tournament for women and junior players has been on PCB chairman Ramiz Raja’s agenda since he assumed the role last year.
Ramiz has been since vocal about how the creation of new “properties” can help the development of the sport as well as reap monetary benefit through their commercial value.
The PJL’s “soft launch”, as a PCB press release called it, seems like a progressive move towards the materialisation of Ramiz’s vision.
With newly-elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif replacing his predecessor Imran Khan — who nominated Ramiz for the chairman’s position — as the PCB’s patron, it will be challenging for the former commentator to convince investors to put their money into new projects.
Also, how interested the fans will be to watch junior players play is also a question mark.
“I am thrilled and excited that after days of hard work and planning, we have today released the Expression of Interest document for the Pakistan Junior League, the first-ever international league of its kind in the world,” Ramiz was quoted as saying.
“The PCB will create an environment of brilliance with legends and icons of the game sitting in player dug-outs in the roles of mentors and coaches, and broadcast coverage from the top draw.
“A young apprentice can be molded into a genius with right environment, which we intend to create in this format. Ramiz said the PJL “integrated nicely” with the PCB Junior Pathways Programme, which provided contracts to 100 junior cricketers who will not receive coaching from foreign coaches, receive education from top institutions and get paid decent monthly stipends with the help of strategic partnerships.
“Initiatives like the PJL are all about creating opportunities for cricketers, identifying the talent, nurturing them into world-class players and closing the gap between domestic and international cricket,” said the former Pakistan Test skipper.