"A young apprentice can be moulded into a genius with the right environment, which we intend to create in this format," Raja had said at the time of launching the tournament. The league is meant not only to identify talent, but to nurture them, and close the gap between the Under-19s level and the highest level of cricket.
Yes, that's how the PCB had envisaged it, anticipating a lot of commercial interest. In fact, after an initial tender from the PCB seeking expressions of interest, 24 companies had reached out. But not much came of it, and the PCB has decided to take full ownership of the tournament.
It is a concern, isn't it? In fact, scheduling has been a challenge, as the tournament overlaps with the Pakistan senior team's tour of New Zealand for a triangular T20I series. Right after that, the first round of the men's T20 World Cup begins in Australia. The PJL was originally scheduled to run from October 1 to 15, but that would have led to a clash with the last bit of the Pakistan vs England T20I series.
A total of 90 players, including 24 from 11 other countries, have been selected through a draft. The roster has Under-19 players from four Full Members - Afghanistan, England, South Africa and West Indies. Each team must compulsorily have a player from an Associate Member, so there are Charlie Tear and Gabriel Gallmann-Findlay from Scotland, Matthew Tromp from the USA, Kushal Malla from Nepal, Ali Naseer from the UAE, Burhan Niaz from Belgium, Nathan Edwards and Isai Thorne from the West Indies, Archie Lenham, George Thomas, Tom Aspinwall, Danial Ibrahim and Joseph Eckland from England, and Hassan Eisakhil from Afghanistan.
They are, which sets it apart from the regular Under-19 circuit. The 15 players in each team are in three different categories: Elite (four players), Premier (five) and X-Factor (six). The salary slabs are US$ 16,000 for Elite, US$ 12,000 for Premier, and US$ 6000 for X-Factor.
The PCB has kept a portion of the day aside to allow the players to join their schools and take tutorials online. In a separate session, PCB-appointed mentors will have discussions with the players on various subjects.
Mentors. The PCB has appointed six stars to mentor each side. The line-up is stellar: Imran Tahir (Bahawalpur), Shoaib Malik (Gujranwala), Viv Richards (Gwadar), Daren Sammy (Hyderabad), Shahid Afridi (Mardan), and Colin Munro (Rawalpindi). Separately, as a "roving umbrella mentor", will be Javed Miandad, helping and assisting everyone.
In Pakistan, the league will be broadcast on PTV Sports. Matches will start at 6pm local time, with a 1.30pm start on days with two games. Start times have been planned to encourage school children to attend.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent