Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent
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The PSL is looking to hike its salary cap as it begins to deal with the impact of the two new cash-rich T20 leagues on the circuit - the ILT20 and the SA20. The PCB has also proposed a hybrid model of a draft plus an auction to acquire players for the upcoming season, though ESPNcricinfo understands that the franchises are looking for more clarity about that before taking it on board.
After a PSL governing council meeting on Friday, the PCB announced that the 2023 season of the PSL will start on February 9, and the final will take place on March 19. It had been anticipated that the PSL would start mid-February, and while the dates for the UAE's ILT20 or the South African SA20 are not out yet officially, the earlier start means there might be a small overlap between the leagues.
The PSL will also revert to using four venues, as was the case in the fifth edition in 2020. Last year, because of Covid-19, the league was played in two centres, Lahore and Karachi - Rawalpindi and Multan have been added as venues this time. The PSL began in January last year to make room for Australia's tour of Pakistan in March, but the PSL has never begun earlier than the 2023 edition's February 9 - the first season, in 2016, also began on February 9.
Friday's governing council meeting was the first in over nine months. The central talking point was the hybrid model for player selection. Some franchise owners disagreed with the change as it was based on allowing four retentions and four rounds of auction, with the remaining 12 players picked through a draft process. There is also a proposal to increase the salary cap from the current US$950,000 to US$1.5million, but the discussion around that didn't take place after franchise representatives focussed on the structure of the auction and salary caps.
Discussions on the change in the player-acquisition structure came about because Ramiz Raja, the PCB chairman, has previously said they need to "elevate the concept" of the PSL, and felt that an auction system could help the PSL rival the IPL. But ESPNcricinfo understands that the franchise owners have asked the PCB to share an estimate of the likely expenses of such a change.
Playing at four venues, in any case, will increase their expenses, as well as the broadcast-production cost, which ultimately affects the bottom line for franchises in what is already a difficult time economically for Pakistan. Expanding the salary cap in that environment is not a straightforward task, as the main PSL revenue streams were all locked in last year for multi-year deals and franchises have their returns fixed from the central pool for the next three years. The board and franchises are expected to meet again in a week's time to take discussions on the hybrid model and the salary cap further.