New Delhi, Aug 8, 2023(IANS): With a view to tapping cricketing talent from across Punjab and bringing it under the spotlight, the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) recently concluded its own T20 league — Sher-E-Punjab T20 Cup — which witnessed participation by six teams, and is all set to grow bigger.
Conceived by the PCA secretary (honourary) Dilsher Khanna, the maiden event attracted sponsorships from major industrial houses including Trident and JK Cement among others to the tune of Rs 9 crore.
“The entire exercise was conducted to bring to the forefront the immense talent hidden in the remotest part of the state. For 17 days, a total of 33 matches were played which were aired on a major television channel live streamed too. The matches were attended by top players, IPL scouts, and coaches — thus giving the young players the much-needed exposure,” says the 32-year-old secretary.
While the cup was planned and executed in a matter of months, Khanna says the same would not have been possible without the support of Jay Shah, Secretary BCCI, and cricketer Harbhajan Singh. “Shah has always gone out of his way for the betterment of the game in Punjab and Singh’s suggestions have been invaluable,” he adds.
Looking forward to making it an annual event, and up its scale, the secretary says next year onwards, the number of venues will be increased. “It is paramount to take it to different districts in Punjab and engage the youth there. The new international stadium coming up in Mullanpur (Mohali) will also play host to some matches next year. We will also go in for the franchisee model after taking permission from the BCCI — something that will greatly benefit the players. ”
In fact, the Mullanpur stadium which has been plagued by delays for several years now is all set to open soon and will play host to two international matches. The stadium will boast of a seating capacity of 33000, more boxes, better facilities, and an international-level practice ground.
The PCA also recently organized a talent search programme for fast bowlers (above 16 years of age) in different districts including Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Barnala, and Muktsar among other places.”Close to 1700 candidates participated and took 90 were selected. They are being guided by major bowlers in PCA now. And we will recruit them to PCA and other state teams too. A camp for spinners will also be held on similar lines.”
With a view to involve more school children, the PCA plans to start a ‘School League’ in Punjab for under-14 players. “This is very high on my agenda. I have always believed that to produce top players, and not just in cricket, it is important to tap potential at the school level.”
Talk to him about the many activities taking place and being planned by PCA, and he asserts, “I feel the mix of experienced and young people has been good for PCA.”