The new administration of PCB ended the Pakistan Junior League.

The Pakistan Junior League (PJL) has been scrapped by the new PCB administration, with new plans to “restore the junior series on a home-and-away basis” instead. The decision to end the league was expected since Rameez Raja was removed as PCB chairman, and the decision was taken at a meeting of PCB’s managing committee headed by Najam Sethi on Saturday. had gone.

The league was the brainchild of Ramsey but massive losses in the first year meant its future was always uncertain. The two-week tournament, a T20 league for under-19 players from around the world, had its inaugural edition from 6 to 21 October 2022.

“The PCB Management Committee has agreed to close the Pakistan Junior League,” a PCB statement said. “However, to ensure that there is an avenue for high-performing youngsters and that the country continues to produce talented cricketers across all age groups, it has been agreed to restore the junior series on a home-and-away basis. has been.

“Also agreed to hold talks with HBL Pakistan Super League franchises to include under-19 players in their emerging categories in the playing line-up.”

Meanwhile, the board’s financial report revealed staggering losses incurred in running the inaugural edition. According to the report, the two-week tournament incurred expenses of around Rs 997 million, while the PCB earned only Rs 190 million of this.

A week before Ramez was ousted, he reportedly signed an MoU with a company to sell him the rights to PJL in a multi-year deal. Pakistan’s federal government removed Ramiz and his board from office last week, and revoked the 2019 constitution under which the PCB operated. Now, a 14-member management committee headed by Sethi has been entrusted with full administrative powers and asked to rework the process to meet the requirements of the 2014 version of the PCB constitution.

This new management committee has since launched an internal audit of Ramez’s 14-month tenure, with PJL facing particular scrutiny given the weight of related expenses.

Why did PCB spend so much on PJL?
When PJL was announced, there were ambitious plans to base it on a franchise model, but the turnout of bidders fell far short of the board’s expectations. This forced the PCB to shoulder the costs of assembling and running the teams itself, and subsequent title sponsorship and other commercial tenders also failed to yield lucrative deals.

Despite the market’s lack of interest, the PCB decided to go ahead with the league under Ramiz, calling it a strategic decision. ESPNcricinfo understands that the PCB’s commercial committee was reluctant to approve the expenditure but the board of governors did.

What were the major expenses?
Although cricket is the most popular sport in the country, in reality only the national setup or the well-established PSL gets lucrative sponsorship deals. For PJL, the response to title sponsorship rights and digital streaming rights was lukewarm at best, falling far short of Ramsey’s expectations: four companies came forward for title sponsorship rights and one broadcaster for digital rights, although both Bids were placed in cases. Less than expectations. For TV production, PCB spent PKR 286 million and failed to close a lucrative broadcast deal, resulting in the end of the partnership with state broadcaster PTV.

Furthermore, some of the match fees paid in the PJL – to the “elite” players – were higher than what a senior Pakistani player would receive for a T20I. The league consisted of six teams consisting of 15 local and foreign players between the ages of 15 and 19, selected through a draft process and classified into three categories – a salary of US$16,000. Along with four Elite Players, five Main Players (12,000 USD) and six X-Factor Players (6000 USD).

PCB also roped in big names like Shahid Afridi, Javed Miandad, Darren Sammy, Colin Munro, Imran Tahir, Vivian Richards and Shoaib Malik as mentors for each team.

Was there already a system of junior cricket in Pakistan?
Ramez’s argument was that the league would identify and nurture talent, and bridge the gap between quality at under-19 level and senior level.

Pakistan already had a pathway for young cricketers, though, formed from under-15 to under-19 level. Historically, their junior players were only exposed for the one-day and three-day formats, with a batch graduating every two years to represent the country at the U-19 World Cup. Players like Babar Azam, Imamul Haq and Shaheen Afridi have come up in terms of age.

Additionally, every year PSL teams pick two budding players from the U-19 circuit and one of them was required to play in the XI.

How does the PJL Bill compare to other domestic tournaments?
Total domestic spending was PKR 1 billion in 2017, the same year Pakistan won its last global tournament, the Champions Trophy.

This year, PCB’s six domestic associations spent just Rs 1.5 billion on the entire season across all formats and levels.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent.

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