Interview with Muhammad Talha — a cricket enthusiast
PAGE: Tell me something about yourself, please:
Muhammad Talha: I am the CFO of Javedan Corporation Limited (JCL) and looking after financial and property operation matters. Beside this, I have been a part of several sporting activities to promote the sports in Pakistan. Naya Nazimabad, a project owned by JCL has always been a keen supporter to the sporting activities. Naya Nazimabad Lawai Stadium has been described as a welcome addition to the list of cricket grounds of high standard and now it has become a home ground of Karachi Kings. In addition, Naya Nazimabad Gymkhana is being developed adjacent to the existing cricket stadium having various recreational and sporting facilities including swimming, tennis, gymnasium, badminton, squash, table tennis, banquet halls, yoga, sauna & jacuzzi, cards and billiards room, library and children’s game zone etc.
PAGE: Your views on Pakistan Super League?
Muhammad Talha: Since 2009, there was no cricket in Pakistan and the volume of new talents/upcoming players also reduced till the announcement of PSL. Pakistan Super League (PSL) has given new hopes to Pakistani players. PSL is one of the best initiatives taken by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to hold matches of international standard. You just imagine that the Target Rating Point (TRP) of PSL has reached to 8.2 million after IPL which is the most glamorous and the most viewed cricket league.
Players are selected through a drafting system. Cricketers around the world have also shown great interest to become a part of the drafting system which is quite a unique idea amongst all the cricket leagues present on the globe. By opting for a draft system in place of a player auction, it ensures a level-playing field as each team will have to choose a certain number of players from each category. As a result of this, each team has to spend an equal amount on drafting players. Top players therefore, play for all five teams. The quality of cricket which has been showcased in this event has made this tournament as one of the exciting leagues in world cricket. Nonetheless, it is the platform which has revived international cricket in Pakistan. Champions Trophy is in fact the biggest gift of PSL.
PAGE: How would you comment on the cricket talent in Pakistan?
Muhammad Talha: The amount of talent Pakistan has got especially in the field of cricket has made the world to praise. Without having the proper infrastructure facilities, children who usually play cricket on streets, cement pitches make their mark in to the international arena. There are tons of rising stars on the green land of Pakistan which are growing day by day. The other most interesting and exciting thing of PSL is the mandatory inclusion of youngsters, which will surely give youngsters to show their talent in the most competitive environment.
Muhammad Nawaz, Hassan Khan, Shadab Khan, Hassan Ali are the ones who have been selected in the Pakistan team and have impressed the world with their remarkable talent. There are few players who are still ignored despite their performances in domestic structure like Fawad Alam, Azhar Ali and Saad Naseem.
PAGE: Give your views on the benefits of PSL?
Muhammad Talha: PSL has countless benefits. First of all, it is the platform to recognize the young talent and provide them the opportunity to play with seasoned international cricketers. Secondly, the money involved in PSL is a motivating and attracting factor for cricketers who have been underpaid under the domestic cricket system. PSL event not only provide the platform for this young talent to show off their talent but also provided them the financial assistance. Cricket is basically a game of nerve, whoever hold his nerve in critical situations shall be on the winning track. The amount of exciting and thrilling matches being played in PSL has made the cricketers more stronger to hold their nerves in critical situations. The domestic and emergent cricketers also have this opportunity to share their dressing room and dugout with one of the leading and famous international cricketers. This healthy experience does have a great impact over the confidence and body language of the cricketers which in turn enables them to become a good professional cricketer. Nonetheless, PSL portrays that Pakistan is a country of peace and harmony and it welcomes other with honor as this was evident last year when cricketers like Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuels, Faf Du Plessis, Samuel Badri, Thisara Perera, George Bailey, David Miller and Morne Morkel played in Pakistan during PSL-2 final and World XI matches.
PAGE: Give your comments on the branding, promotion etc of PSL?
Muhammad Talha: PCB has made an excellent decision to promote franchise cricket in Pakistan. The exposure which PSL has got in Dubai and Sharjah has also helped it to be one of the leading cricket league around the globe. Overall the production and presentation of PSL has also set high standards. The usage of high definition Spidercams, drones, snicko meter, umpire cams, top of the line commentary penal and their high standard analysis has made this league amongst the best leagues. The inaugural ceremony of PSL which was held in Dubai International Stadium had made its mark upon the international cricketing community.
Production rights were given to the Sunset+vine group who has made this production available all around the globe not only on television but its streaming is also available on social media websites. The fan page on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc has also given awareness about the PSL.
The quality of cricket being played is quiet enormous than other leagues which involve glamorous level at its peak like our neighborhood league IPL. However the promotion strategy adopted by the PCB and the franchises have failed to raise their strength of fans. Franchisee must arrange an event where they may bring large volume of public to send off their team which will not only enhance the local participations but will also improve the viewership. Only Naya Nazimabad is arranging send off ceremony for Karachi Kings every year. Quality of pitches need to be improved so that high scoring matches can be seen with lots of boundaries.
Efforts to be made to include more and more fan following players like David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Joe Root, etc. PSL is still playing outside Pakistan and there is a need to shift it to Pakistan as early as possible.
Spectators in Dubai and Sharjah is on very lower side. I am of the view that general seats ticket shall be available free to address this issue. Very recently after losing their match to Islamabad United, Lahore Qalandars captain Brendon McCullum was complaining about the attitude of the players. He was of the view that his players do not bowl and bat according to the plan. There is a need to sort out these matters as it hurts the brand name and more importantly the name of Pakistan amongst the civilized nation.
PAGE: Who is going to win PSL:
Muhammad Talha: My heart says Karachi Kings while my mind says Quetta Gladiators. Sarfraz is leading the team very well and he is the combining force amongst all the team members. The way he is leading the team and appreciated each and every team members is amazing. Mentor of each team is really something admirable. Sir Vivian Richard is the best among the all. His behavior and involvement in each ball motivates the team to put best effort. Azam Khan seems to be the best manager who is keeping the big fishes like Kevin Pietersen and Shane Watson cool and calm. While the best coach is Wasim Akram whose little advises can change a knife into sword.
PAGE: Your views on cricket in Pakistan in the days to come:
Muhammad Talha: Pakistan Cricket Board has taken some baby steps to bring cricket back in Pakistan. The visit of Zimbabwe team in Pakistan in 2015, PSL 2017 final in Lahore, tour of World XI team and this time, 3 knock out matches to be played in Lahore and Karachi has created a sense of security realization amongst the international cricketers. They are now willing to play in Pakistan. In 2017, Darren Sammy, Marlon Samuel’s, Chris Jordan, Seane Ervine , Sir Viv Richards, Dean Jones and many other renowned cricketers have visited and participated in the grand finale of PSL-2. However, this is not the end, PCB has to be proactive and try to bring more international teams in Pakistan. PSL Franchise teams also have conducted talent hunt program all over the Pakistan. Local supporters/cricket lovers also arrange different tournaments in different cities of Pakistan. Recently, Karachi Kings and Innovators conducted tournament for local teams of different areas of Karachi at Naya Nazimabad Lawai Stadium. Karachi Premier League is also going to start after PSL. During Ramazan, a lot of tournaments are being played in Pakistan. However, there is a need to focus on one day cricket and test match cricket as we are giving too much focus on short formats cricket because of entertainment. The big challenge is to produce test match players. If you ask who is the leading run scorer and wicket taker in our National Quaid-e-Azam Trophy than more than 90% people couldn’t have the right answer. There is a need to give projections and importance to these tournaments as well. Test match cricket has to be promoted by PCB so that technically equipped players may be included in the Test and ODI teams. Anyways, we hope and pray that Pakistani team shall perform at their best and repeat the glory of uplifting the Cricket World Cup.