Gayle signs up for Pakistan Super League
Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo are some of the prominent players who will feature in the inaugural Pakistan Super League (PSL), a franchise-based T20 tournament to be held in Doha in February 2016. The players' interest in the tournament could stem a desire to be match-fit ahead of the World T20 which begins a month later in India.
The agency that manages Gayle, one of the most valuable Twenty20 players, confirmed that he had signed the pre-draft agreement on Monday. Darren Sammy and Sunil Narine along with former England batsman Owais Shah will also be part of the PSL draft pool. It is understood that the Pakistan Cricket Board, owners of PSL, are seeking at least 25 overseas players for the tournament.
"Obviously top guns like Gayle are stars who attract fans," Najam Sethi, head of PCB Executive committee, said. "They lend commercial value, showbiz glitz and tournament credibility. They are also sources of inspiration and emulation for our budding players."
The first edition of PSL will feature five franchise-based teams from the provincial capitals - Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta and Islamabad - with prize money of $1 million. The tournament is scheduled to run from February 4 to 24 and will feature 24 matches.
This will be the first major cricket tournament hosted by the Qatar capital, which will also host the 2022 edition of the football World Cup. The PCB had originally wanted to conduct the PSL in the UAE, where Pakistan have been playing their international matches. But they were forced to look for an alternative venue after being told by the Emirates Cricket Board that it was hosting the Masters Champions league (Twenty20 tournament featuring retired cricketers) on same dates.
The PSL matches will be played at the West End Park International Cricket Stadium, with a capacity of about 13,000. Last year it was used for a women's limited-overs tri-series involving Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
Last week, the PCB had roped in former captains Ramiz Raja and Wasim Akram as ambassadors for the first season. Both of them had been tied with the Masters Champions League, but Akram said, "I'm up for leaving anything for Pakistan cricket. I don't want to earn money by playing cricket but instead want to give something back to my nation. We signed with MCL and had to work for them, but my priority is to help our country's cause."
The logo of the PSL will be revealed in a ceremony on September 20, but the PCB said finding stakeholders to bid for the franchises and the broadcast rights is still a work in progress.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo