Who am I and why should you care? A question I was asked over 15 years back now for the first time, and my answer that first time was probably the most heartfelt – I am the only Pakistani alive to be endeavouring to get a degree in Sports Marketing, against all odds, and I have a singular aim of changing the way sports is managed in Pakistan. That journey started almost two decades back now, and though I can’t say I’ve achieved all that was needed, we’ve all come a long way, and there’s still a long way to go.
I have been involved in various iterations of what was initially called the Pakistan Premier League and in its current and real incarnation now is called the Pakistan Super League, whether it be concept development of the property, bidding for it, or as now, taking care of a few critical components of the League. I realise this sounds more like a eulogy now, but I’ve been questioned on numerous occasions as to why there’s a paternal tinge to my handling of the PSL – this preceding prologue should give an insight as to why.
The one component held as critical, in fact imperative to the success of any league, is the acquisition of top talent available and attracting them in to the property to be a part of it. This was one of my core areas of responsibility, and while top player acquisition was a very gratifying task, what’s really been heart-warming to see is our local emerging players stand up and be counted. I felt myself stretched beyond reason at times in fighting almost at times, whether within the team or when faced with opposition from team selectors, to not only justify the necessity of these juniors in each team, but also to highlight the long term and immeasurable impact their participation in such a league would mean for their cricketing careers going forward as well as for Pakistan Cricket.
I had the honour and privilege of conducting the first ever Draft conducted in the Sub-continent, for the PSL late last year, and though calling out the names everyone knows – Afridi, Gayle, Malik, Watson, Pietersen, and so on, was a feeling I can’t begin to explain, as it represented the culmination of months of sleepless nights and endless days spent negotiating with Boards, Associations, and agents, what really gave me a sense of fulfilment was when Quetta Gladiators picked Mohammad Nawaz, Peshawar Zalmi picked Mohammad Asghar, and others equally talented youngsters went to various teams.
Seeing Nawaz uproot Watson’s stumps, and watching Zia get the edge of KP’s bat – that has been the high point of my PSL. Not for the cricketing feats they represent, but for the achievement of the efforts of a small and dedicated few driven to change the destiny of Pakistan cricket to mould it to a bigger, brighter vision we all share for it – to take its place among the top echelon of world cricket.