King Richards believes more HBL PSL matches in Pakistan the better
Sharjah, 22 February 2019:
Perhaps the biggest catch in the history of the HBL PSL tournament was by Quetta Gladiators who brought West Indian great Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards as the motivator.
When the master blaster of the past sits in the dug-out of the Gladiators, the players get induced to fight till the last ball, a trait the Antiguan great had in him to the core.
Richards believes the fight Pakistan cricket has had to do since international cricket was suspended at home in 2009 will get over with more and more matches in the country and before the cricket-mad people.
“What I think is quite encouraging is that I saw the West Indies women’s team toured Pakistan,” said Richards of the West Indies’ Eves touring Karachi for a three T20I series against Pakistan women.
“Before that, the West Indies men’s team came (in March last year). Some of the HBL PSL matches were taken to Pakistan and, to me, that had more volume and the more I think that’s done, the better. I think it would be for Pakistan cricket.”
Since March 2009, Pakistan have hosted Zimbabwe, an ICC World XI, Sri Lanka and the West Indies (men’s and women’s teams). The final of the HBL PSL in March 2017 was played in Lahore, while three matches were held in 2018, including the final in Karachi. In the fourth edition, eight matches are scheduled for Pakistan.
Richards, adored in the cricketing world in general and in Caribbean in particular for his bashing of the bowlers at will, feels there is no substitute of playing before your own people.
“To be honest, no one wants to be playing in exile all their lives,” said Richards referring to Pakistan playing at the neutral venues of United Arab Emirates.
“Every team wants to be playing in front of their home fans and getting the support from the home crowds and that, to me, is always essential.”
Richards reckons HBL PSL is one of the top leagues, for its ability to throw more and more talented players every year.
“It’s been great,” remarked Richards, who played 121 Tests and 187 one-day internationals during his glorious career including two World Cup triumphs in 1975 and 1979.
“To me it (HBL PSL) is one of the most important T20 tournaments that is played and why I say this is that the players that come to play in this tournament are some of the best players in my opinion and that makes it one of the biggest events.”
Richards praised the fast bowling talent that comes to the fore from every edition of the HBL PSL since its inception in 2016.
“Ever since my arrival here, I have seen the potential in terms of, not just basically the magnificent batsmen that the PSLs have produced, but what I know for sure, especially in the fast bowling department.
“Some of the fast bowlers could be loaned out to many teams around the world and that makes the HBL PSL and good tournament, a talent producing factory.
“This tournament is particularly good in finding some of these young talented players and that serves the purpose of a league.”
Richards singled out former Quetta spinner Hassan Khan as a player for the future.
“There are so many young individuals but I could only speak for the young players who are from the Gladiators. Mohammad Nawaz is one. Then Hassan Khan, I like his energy and especially when he hit the winning runs in one of the matches last year.
“He is not with us anymore but I always liked his attitude, his energy and particularly at this young age,” said Richards of Hassan who is now playing for Lahore Qalandars in HBL PSL 4.
“I liked the way he hit that huge winning six off Kieron Pollard, it was just magnificent. I just hope that he continues. I love Ahsan Ali (new Quetta opener), to me he is a good competitor and is hugely talented.”
Asked about his trips to Pakistan for HBL PSL and the Quetta family, Richards turns to the typically Caribbean swagger: “Oh man! It’s been special.
“Ever since I have been here, you couldn’t ask for anything more. I liked the camaraderie, especially this year the recruitment process and seen the magnificent talent which you guys have assembled for us to compete in this fourth HBL PSL.
“Its just great for me to be here, with people you have a lot of respect for and people who in return have respect for you. The Quetta family, to me, is one of the better families where T20 cricket is concerned.”
Richards said he was looked after very well in Pakistan on his two trips for the HBL PSL.
“They have been great, can’t complain. Apart from being associated with the cricket and HBL PSL, I played golf and had a great time. I visited houses of friends and the team owner’s house and had a good party in Karachi and I am looking forward to it again.”