PCB chairman Ramiz Raja wants PSL to move from draft to auction

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He also defended Pakistan’s performance at the Women’s World Cup, and called for a stronger domestic women’s structure

The Pakistan Super League could ditch the draft system, which it has operated under since its inception, as early as next year, with PCB chairman Ramiz Raja keen to replace it with an auction. At the National Stadium in Karachi, Ramiz said Pakistan needed to “elevate the concept” of the PSL, and an auction system could provide it the financial clout to rival the IPL.

“We need to create new properties to be financially independent. We have nothing for now but the PSL and ICC funds. There’s an argument over the model from next year; I want to switch it to an auction model from next year,” he said. “The market forces are conducive, but we’ll sit down with the franchise owners to discuss it.

“This is a game of money. When the cricket economy grows in Pakistan, our respect will rise. The main driver of that financial economy is the PSL. If we take the PSL to auction model, increase the purse, then I’ll put it in the IPL bracket. And then we’ll see who goes to play the IPL over the PSL.”

The financial health of individual franchises and the willingness of the owners to invest further capital into their sides will go a long way to gauging support for the dramatic shift in the PSL’s model. When the league was launched, the PCB opted for a draft system over an auction to afford similar opportunities to franchises with inferior financial clout, preventing them from being locked out of acquiring the best talent because of an inability to pay for it. The draft was designed to allow every side a chance to assemble as strong a squad as possible, with the egalitarianism allowing more competition.

That theory has, so far, worked in practice. It has taken just seven years for all six sides to win the competition at least once. In an auction system, most famously employed by the IPL, it would be up to the individual franchises to compete for the signature of every player, with the side willing to offer the most lucrative salary securing their services. The IPL does have a mechanism to level the playing field, however, with all teams assigned the same spending purse at the auction. Teams were allowed a purse of INR 90 crore (USD 12 million approx) at the 2022 auction.

Ramiz also said the PCB wanted to host the PSL across more than the two venues it was played at over this season, going so far as to say the league might adopt a home-away structure from next year. “We want the PSL to be on a home and away basis from next year. The gate money will be excellent, and we want to elevate the concept of the PSL.

“Every side’s purse will increase, and if they want to improve they’ll have to spend money. When you go from a draft system to this, the world’s talent suddenly becomes available to you. I’ve spoken to a couple of the franchise owners; they’re quite happy to experiment with this. I’ll talk to the others, too. It’s in the embryonic stages, but it’s top of my wish list.”

Ramiz bats for first-class matches in women’s domestic calendar
Ramiz, meanwhile, defended Pakistan’s performance at the Women’s World Cup, where they have lost all four of their games so far. He said women’s cricket needed more investment, and reiterated his desire to see Pakistan become the first Asian country to host a women’s T20 league.

“We want to regularise the women’s cricket calendar. The more they play the better they’ll be,” Ramiz said. “You can’t just go into hibernation and then expect them to beat Australia. It’s not going to happen. We have our limitations and cultural issues, and to get out of that we have to fix their calendar. They need to play first-class-style three-day matches. Then look at selection and U19 structure.

“We want to sign up young girls and develop them. Right now, the excitement is we might launch a T20 league before India, and the world can’t believe that because there’s a particular perception around Pakistan that needs to be broken.”

The shape a women’s PSL would take is not immediately clear. Pakistan currently have just 12 centrally contracted women cricketers, with a further eight listed in the emerging category. A league, even if, as ESPNcricinfo understands, it were initially to include just four sides, would require at least 60 cricketers, meaning even if there was a significant international presence, Pakistan would have to dig deep into their reserves of local talent to fill the squads.

“In January-February, we’re thinking of the women’s PSL,” Ramiz said. “There’s a lot of traction and a lot of takers for it. Pak women’s cricket needs to improve a lot, and that will only happen when we give them an environment where they can make money and share the dugout with world-class players.

“We are also thinking of making first class women’s teams and attaching them with provincial teams. They don’t play much cricket and operate on a trial-and-error basis.”

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

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