The 2024 PSL: A Mock-mock Draft
The 2024 season has seen possibly the most dramatic trade window in the history of the PSL, and as I write this, we haven’t even hit the day of the actual draft yet. So far, we have seen Naseem caught in the middle of a ping-pong match between two franchises, Ifti-mania delivering possibly the best-crafted transfer news in the history of the league, and the administrative wing of Peshawar Zalmi displaying their enthusiasm by relentlessly tweeting in uppercase (though this is not necessarily limited to the trading window). As someone who has been decidedly unable to decide a team (what some call non-commitment, I call openness), I am personally enjoying the proceedings unfold. And as someone who watches cricket partly for the sport and mostly for the – for lack of a better word – ‘vibes’ and the emotional/sentimental/this-will-kill-me-one-day element, I think this particular trading window still has a lot of potential. So here are some trades and picks and retentions that I think the franchises can and should consider before the 9th edition of the Pakistan Super League:
Peshawar Zalmi, to release the caps-lock tweeting, retain their flawless social media game, and to pick… bowlers. Any bowlers. In gold, or in silver, or in platinum, leg-spin or finger-spin or pace or slow-left arm. All they need is a bowling attack, preferably containing people who aren’t at risk of being appointed as government officials or chief selectors immediately after the campaign. And perhaps comprising at least one bowler they can actually get a successful trade deal for.
Islamabad United, to trade their metaphorical dimaagh for an actual one, or we might get another season of wonderful records like “the largest margin of defeat in runs in PSL history.” I must say, however, that the quest for creating such data and living by it is an unforgiving and noble one – and sometimes, it requires sacrifice. I think the entire PSL fraternity owes its gratitude to Islamabad for taking one for all the teams. They have already gained Naseem Shah and retained Rana Faheem Ashraf (sahab), the beating heart of this brainful team, so there is very little they can do wrong now – but they might just benefit from picking a marketing strategy that does not revolve around how red their kit is.
Multan Sultans, to retain their skill ceiling but to pick a few emotions, personality, a little jazbaa. To also perhaps pick a lower colour-contrast level for their future kits. I have always found MS to be the New Zealand of PSL – they’re good (so good that they’re out of the league – literally), they’re no-nonsense, and they come desperately close to winning at least once every year. However, they fail to move me emotionally on a personal level, and because I am writing this, I can pretend my sentiments hold enough stake. Perhaps they can trade a little bit of their moral compass with…
Karachi Kings, to trade this little present from Multan with some of their dugout drama, just for the kicks. Of course, we cannot hope to replicate the messy, chaotic, Wasim-Akram-kicking-a-couch glory of the PSL 7, but we can try. Considering they lost Imad Wasim and his glorious press conference one-liners to Islamabad, they will have to figure out an alternate supply of wit. They have, however, gone platinum on the likability scale with the transfer of Hassan Ali into the side, so all hope is not yet lost.
Quetta Gladiators, to release the last few years’ run. And to release perhaps their middle order and the top. And a few of the bowlers. And perhaps, possibly, the captain. However, by picking Shane Watson, a three-time World Cup winner as head coach, at least they have someone on the side who knows what a trophy looks like (I think the magic of the one they do have has run its course).
Lahore Qalandars, to retain their winning streak and the little tradition where they distribute iPhones after every match, and to perhaps release their habit of attributing every turn of the Earth and every twist of the heavens to the miracle of the PDP. They can also do with a kit that is not, you know, an actual map, but I suppose it can be seen as a cultural statement, a call back to their we-were-lost-for-a-few-years-but-we-found-our-way days. Whatever they do, they can’t possibly go too wrong – so far, Lahore has managed two trophies, a player development scheme, a few anthems that can double as dholki music, but most of all, a successful procedure of reverse-colonisation on Sam Billings. Legend says he’s still somewhere in the back of an England dressing room, mast and barbaad, clutching an iPhone…
I truly, fully hope that these respective franchises take my suggestions seriously because, as a PSL fan in perpetual no-team land (franchise purgatory, if you may), I think my word holds the most value because I am not blinded by what Quetta could be, or by the prospect of some home-grown Qalandars City land, or by the four cryptic yellow hearts that Javed Afridi just posted. I come from a place of utmost rationality and clarity. On that note, I’m grateful that the players have had a few side projects in the ODI World Cup and the upcoming tour to Australia to practice for the realest cricket of all, that of the Pakistan Super League. Happy retentions!