No place for Associates in the PSL

Isaac Lockett rounds up the PSL draft, where Afghanistan players were the only ones to get picked from cricket's emerging talent pool.

Rashid Khan
Rashid Khan - ICC Illustration

With teams having already announced their retentions for the sixth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), attention turned to the draft which took place on the 10th of January and was televised across the world. The competition rules state that teams are allowed to retain a maximum of eight players from a squad of eighteen, so there were plenty of places up for grabs. 

With over 400 foreign players putting their names in the hat, there was plenty of talent for management teams to choose from. However, fans of emerging cricketing nations would have noticed an increase in the number of players from these countries available for selection. Notable names from the world of Associate cricket include Dutch internationals Timm Van Der Gugten and Tobais Visse, Scotland’s Mark Watt and George Munsey, Kenya’s Irfan Karim, Hong Kong’s Ehsan Khan and Nepal’s Karan KC. The stars of Associate cricket were also joined with players from Ireland, Afghanistan, and Zimbabwe. Despite being Full Members, these nations are arguably still looking for players to help cement their place within the world of franchise-based cricket tournaments. Therefore, the PSL draft presented another critical opportunity.

Emerging Cricket casts its eye over the players who have been selected by the teams.  

Quetta Gladiators – Qais Ahmed (Afghanistan)

Qais Ahmed represents the final piece of an Afghanistan spin bowling quartet that was picked up early during the draft. Ahmed is arguably the lesser-known of his four compatriots; however, is no less effective. Ahmed’s most recent cricketing action was during the Lanka Premier League for the Colombo Kings and finished as the tournament’s third top wicket-taker with 12 from nine matches at an average of 16.25. If Ahmed’s last outing was anything to go by the leg-spinner looks to have an exciting 2021 ahead of him and it seems as if the Gladiators will need him to play a key role with the ball.  

Karachi Kings – Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan); Noor Ahmed (Afghanistan) 

There is no doubting the class of Mohammad Nabi having impressed in multiple franchises tournaments and with the Afghanistan national side. At the time of the draft, Nabi was plying his trade with the Melbourne Renegades in Australia’s Big Bash League, and after seven games he has scored 149 runs at an average of 24.83 and a strike rate of 126.27 along with picking up two wickets. The PSL will form part of a busy year for Nabi who has also recently signed for English side Northamptonshire for their Vitality Blast campaign and a hectic international schedule that will see the all-rounder take his place in the national side during the upcoming series with Ireland. Nabi is the epitome of consistency within the game’s T20 format and will provide the Kings with an option with the ball and the bat. 

Noor Ahmed is the latest addition to the list of Afghanistan players representing the country at the franchise cricket level. Ahmed rose to fame when the Melbourne Renegades signed him during 2020 while he was still 15 years old. Now 16, Ahmed has his second opportunity to showcase his talents on a world stage during his time with the Kings. Having experienced and world-renowned spinners like Pakistan’s Imad Wasim and fellow Afghani Nabi will only benefit Ahmed as he will look to adapt to a different team environment and a different level of scrutiny.


Lahore Qalandars – Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)

Rashid Khan is a household name around the world after bursting on the scene during 2017. The leg spinner, who was recently named ICC Men’s T20I Player of the Decade, will be making his debut in the PSL with the Qalandars during 2021. Khan forms part of what already looks like an impressive bowling unit for the Qalandars and provides the team with a world-class spin option along with their fast bowling resources. But, Khan offers more than just an on-field presence. Due to the player’s profile, the Qalandars may benefit from an increased fan base with fans of both Khan and Afghanistani cricket becoming followers of the team. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Khan excel during his time in Pakistan giving his aptitude for impressive performances and the conditions suiting his bowling style.  

Peshawar Zalmi – Mujeeb Ur Rehman (Afghanistan)

Mujeeb is another member of the Afghanistani contingent of players making their name within franchise cricket. After impressive spells in Australia, India and Bangladesh the off-spinner will be turning out in Pakistan in the yellow of Peshawar Zalmi. Despite only being 19 years of age, Mujeeb could be one of the most experienced T20 players going around at the moment after playing 132 matches and picking up 145 wickets with an impressive average of 22.86 and an incredible economy rate of 6.64. One thing that has become clear about Mujeeb is his determination in the field and a constant want to improve his art. Before his second stint with English side Middlesex, he was described as ‘a great bloke to have in our dressing room’ by then-coach Stuart Law. One thing that is interesting is that two of Zalmi’s retentions can also provide spin-bowling options in the form of Liam Livingstone and Shoaib Malik, however, Mujeeb was the first specialist spinner drafted by the team for the 2021 tournament.  

Draft Reflection

On the whole, it was a disappointing day for fans of Associate cricket with no players being picked to represent all the underdogs in world cricket. Alongside Associate nation cricket being put to one side by the PSL management teams, Ireland and Zimbabwe also won’t be represented during the sixth edition of the PSL; at least to start with. These players’ omittance is a real shame for cricket fans who are prevented from gaining a true insight into world cricket instead of just the Full Member nations. However, Afghanistan were the real winners from the PSL draft with five national team players being drafted into the squads. There has to be a question as to whether COVID-19 impacted the management teams’ selections, which could have prevented more emerging talent being selected. 

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