A Fan’s Guide To the PSL Draft
Since its inception in 2016, the Pakistan Super League (PSL) has successfully attracted the attention of a massive number of Pakistanis with all its festivity and entertainment. Though millions of eyes watch the almost month-long cricket activity each year, the league keeps revolving in the minds of thousands of cricket fans for the rest of the year too. The most critical event in this remaining part of the year is the draft, which is also the main subject of this article. Although the draft day usually gets most of the attention, many other important things occur before and after that day. This article aims to provide a simple explanation of the complex process of the draft for PSL fans.
For the sake of ease of understanding, I have divided the whole draft-process into three phases. The first phase consists of pre-draft day preparations. The second phase is an almost day-long actual draft, while the third phase consists of the time after the end of the draft and the league’s start.
Phase 1 (Pre-Draft Preparations)
After a regular season of PSL ends in March, the process regarding the draft for next season begins around November. The first official announcement is either about the next draft’s pick order or the renewed categories of local players. The pick order is dependent on the luck of the teams. The first round’s pick order (first Platinum picks) is determined through a random draw or a similar activity in which fortune plays its role. The pick order for the rest of the 17 rounds is determined through a ‘special statistical tool.’
Meanwhile, the categories of local players from the previous season are renewed. This renewal process takes place through voting. Representatives of each franchise vote for the categories of local players except for players from their own franchises. After this, a couple of PCB officials review the renewed categories and then finalize them. Teams start thinking about the probable trades and retentions at this point. The list of available players for the draft is released soon after this. Once this list gets released, teams start trading their players.
Trades can either be done in the trade-window or on the day of the draft. Two teams can make a trade in the following ways:
|Team X||Team Y|
|Player||for||Player and Pick(s)|
|Player||for||Pick(s) and Money|
|Player||for||Player and Money|
|Player||for||Player, Pick(s) and Money|
|Pick(s)||for||Pick(s) and Money|
|Pick(s)||for||Player and Money|
|Pick(s)||for||Player, Pick(s) and Money|
Alongside the potential trades, teams also start considering their retentions. A team can make up to eight retentions from their last season’s squad. Though there are no separate category restrictions for retentions, rules for squad combinations apply to them (which we shall discuss later in phase 2). At the time of retentions, a team can also place a relegation request for any of their local players. Suppose the player agrees and the rest of the franchises are not interested in getting that player in his original category. In that case, the franchise can retain that player in the lowered category.
Using this rule, Multan Sultans relegated Shan Masood from the Gold to the Silver category before PSL 5. In case any of the other franchises wish to get that player in his original category, the team placing the retention request gets a choice to either retain the player in his original category or release it to the other franchise interested in that player. E.g., Karachi Kings placed a retention request for Usman Shinwari before PSL 5. Lahore Qalandars agreed to retain Shinwari in his original category (Diamond). Karachi wasn’t interested in retaining him in the Diamond category, and thus he moved from KK to LQ.
At the time of retentions, a team can also lower the player’s category by making him a Player Mentor or Player Ambassador. Each team can have a maximum of one ambassador and mentor each.
Player Ambassador: Each player in the squad is eligible for this role. The additional fee for this role is subtracted from the team’s salary cap. Quetta Gladiators made Umar Akmal their ambassador for PSL 5, lowering his category from Diamond to Gold.
Player Mentor: To become a mentor, a player must fulfill two conditions. He must have retired from international cricket or been inactive in the national setup for at least one year. Additionally, he must have either captained his national team or played 100 international matches. The fee for this role doesn’t get subtracted from the team’s salary cap. Shahid Afridi was demoted to the Diamond category after Multan Sultans made him their mentor before PSL 5.
A team can also announce someone as their ambassador or mentor after the draft-day without demoting his category.
Once teams announce their retentions, the pre-draft preparations end.
Phase 2 (Draft Day)
The most anticipated day in this whole process is the day of the draft. The draft consists of 18 rounds divided across six categories. These include 16 rounds consisting of five player categories and two supplementary rounds. The five player categories are Platinum, Diamond, Gold, Silver, and Emerging. While there are no specified criteria for each category, players with higher utility get the highest category and vice versa. Each local player who has played for Pakistan must be at least in the Gold category. Players under 23 and have not been a part of the national squad are eligible for the Emerging category.
A team can pick players from any category in the Supplementary rounds depending upon their remaining salary caps. Depending upon a player’s consent, teams can also pick him in a lower category. Each team also gets one wildcard pick (optional). Using this, a team can select a player from the lower categories as their Gold, Diamond, or Platinum pick. Hence, for example, if a team feels the need to select a player from Silver, Gold, or Diamond in the Platinum category, they can utilize the wildcard (one only) and select that player in a higher category than his original stipulation.
A 16 to 18-man squad consists of the following number of players from each category:
|Category||Number of Players|
Picks for each category must be in the order mentioned above. Teams get two minutes for each pick in the first three (Platinum) rounds while they have 90 seconds for each pick in the following rounds. A team must follow the following squad combination rules while making these picks:
- A team should have a minimum of one foreign and one local player in the Platinum category. The same applies to the Diamond category.
- A team should have at least three foreign players in the Platinum, Diamond, and Gold categories (combined).
- A team should have a minimum of five foreign players in the 16-man squad. Teams can pick a sixth foreign player in the Supplementary round.
An exception in squad combination rules allows late bloomers to become a part of the PSL as emerging players. Teams can nominate up to two over-23 players (who haven’t played any domestic cricket) discovered in their Talent Hunt programs. Once these players get approved by the PSL management team, the team has to pick at least one of the two in their Supplementary picks. Such a player can only play in the Emerging category for his first season. This rule allowed Lahore Qalandars to play Haris Rauf and Dilbar Hussain as their Emerging players in PSL 4 and 5, respectively.
After all the teams complete their picks according to the rules on the day of the draft, the squads almost reach their final shape.
Phase 3 (Replacement Draft)
The replacement draft happens if any player from any team becomes unavailable (partially or fully). Teams can pick an alternative player from a category not higher than that of the replaced player. There is a small additional salary cap provided to teams for the replacements.
A relatively unknown thing among fans is the mid-season trading window. It is a 72-hour window that starts after each team plays four matches. Players who still haven’t played a match in the season can be traded in this window. They may be traded with another team for a player, money, or both. A team can make up to two such trades without changing the total number of active players in their squad. No trade has been made in this window until now.
These were all the important things that franchises and the PCB go through before providing the action for the fans. Until PCB changes any of these rules, you can save this article and look back while compiling a squad for your favorite PSL franchise.