Unarguably, the biggest surprise from the 2018 Pakistan Super League (PSL) player draft was the lack of interest shown by all franchises towards Chris Gayle. The 38-year old West Indies batsman was among the high-profile cricketers who did not get picked by any of the six teams during the draft ceremony in Lahore on Sunday.
Needless to say, Gayle’s omission raised massive a splutter among cricket circles. A franchise owner, on condition of anonymity, attributed the 38-year old’s exclusion to poor recent form as well as issues emanating from his availability for the entire duration of the tournament.
“We were told that Gayle is partially available so that was one of the reasons. But even if he was available we would not have picked him because he is no more the Gayle force he once was”, a franchise owner was quoted as saying by Wisden India.
In case you didn’t know…
During the inaugural edition of the PSL in 2016, Gayle represented Lahore Qalandars and scored just 103 runs from five matches at an average of 20.60. In the second season, he played for Karachi Kings and could only manage 160 runs from nine matches at an average of 17.77.
The heart of the matter
A grand total of 501 players (193 from Pakistan and 308 from other countries) were up for grabs in the player draft for the 2018 PSL season. The cricketers were segregated into six different categories such as Platinum, Diamond, Gold, Silver, Emerging and Supplementary.
Each franchise had a purse of USD 1.2 million and could pick only one player from the first three categories. Two players could be selected by each team from the Silver and Emerging categories in addition to four more names from the last category.
Australia’s Chris Lynn was the first pick of the draft. The hard-hitting batsman went to Lahore Qalandars. In order, the other picks in the Platinum category were JP Duminy (Islamabad United), Colin Ingram (Karachi Kings), Shane Watson (Quetta Gladiators), Dwayne Bravo (Peshawar Zalmi) and Imran Tahir (Multan Sultans).
Even if he was picked in the draft, Gayle would have been available only for a partial duration of the 2018 PSL season which will take place between February 23 and March 24 next year. The experienced left-hander has already committed to be available for West Indies’ campaign in the 2019 World Cup Qualifiers slated to be held from March 1 to April 4.
Although Gayle’s non-selection in the PSL draft can be attributed to his unavailability for the majority of the tournament, the team owner’s comment indicates a paradigm shift in the approach of T20 franchises who now pick players on the basis orecent form rather than star value.