Karachi – Sports Reporter:
Former West Indies captain Daren Sammy and coach for Pakistani franchise T20 cricket team Peshawar Zalmi said, what set the Pakistan Super League (PSL) series apart from other leagues was the high quality of bowlers participating in the tournament.
Pakistan last year conferred honorary citizenship on Sammy for his “invaluable contribution” toward the return of top-flight cricket to the country.
Sammy has been a regular member of the Peshawar Zalmi side in the Pakistan Super League since the series was launched in 2016 and captained the franchise to the PSL title in the second edition in 2017. He has been a staunch advocate for the return of international cricket to Pakistan.
Pakistan did not host any international cricket for over six years after a 2009 militant attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore.
“The difference with PSL and the different leagues I think is the quality of bowlers that are there in the tournament,” Sammy said in an interview. “When the [PSL] tournament was played in Dubai and Sharjah you know, the quality of bowling was really, really good. Now we see here, we play on good pitches in Pakistan, it … brings out the bowlers’ skills to play even more.”
Sammy said playing for Peshawar Zalmi felt like being part of a ‘family’ and the team had helped in identifying great new cricketing talent for Pakistan.
“Our first emerging player was Hassan Ali; in the space of two to three years he became the number one bowler in ODI [one day international] cricket,” the coach said. ”Last year we had Haider Ali, who was the emerging player; now I think he’s gonna be a really impactful batsman in the future for Pakistan within the next two to three years.”
“And Mohamed Imran, this kid is going to be some talent, you just got to watch out for him,” Sammy added. “I must say, you know, the talent that’s been displayed here in Pakistan, the young emerging talent, especially in the fast-bowling department has just been amazing.
“You’ve seen Shaheen Shah Afridi, you know the way he’s come on,” the coach said, referring to a 20-year-old Pakistan fast bowler who in 2019, in a match against Bangladesh, became the youngest bowler to take a five-wicket haul in a World Cup match — the best bowling figures by a bowler for Pakistan in a World Cup match. Following the World Cup, the International Cricket Council named Afridi the rising star of the squad.
“So, yeah, PSL keeps on offering talent, which is also good for Pakistan,” Sammy said.
The coach said he hoped the sixth edition of PSL, postponed this month after a number of players tested positive for the coronavirus, would restart in June.
“Hopefully … every team gets the same set of players back, so we could start from where we were, [where] we left off,” Sammy said, “and you know, it could again bring some smiles in Pakistan.”
When asked if he wished to coach the Pakistan national team in the future, the 37-year-old Lucian said: “Maybe in the distant future, if the opportunity presents itself then you never know, but right now my focus is just you know, coaching for the Peshawar [team].”