Karachi — Pakistan’s largest city, both in terms of area and population — has one of the proudest histories of producing the country’s finest batsmen and wicketkeepers.
The most famous examples include the likes of Saeed Anwar, Javed Miandad, Moin Khan, Rashid Latif and Sarfraz Ahmed, while also boasting a multitude of others.
It came as no surprise then when the franchise was the most expensive of the maiden bidding process.
The Express Tribune got in touch with franchise manager Navaid Rasheed, who explained the kind of pressure the team faced for being associated with the largest metropolitan city of the country.
“In the first year, no one was sure if the tournament will take place but we were, and that’s why we invested so heavily and bought the most expensive franchise,” said Navaid. “Obviously, if you buy the most expensive franchise and that too of the largest city in the country, the pressure will be there. However, after the on-field disappointment during the first year, I believe we are going in the right direction. Our progress overall is extremely satisfactory.”
Kings set up trials to find new talent in the year 2016, but several complaints of mismanagement during those trials made it to social media; some going as far as to claim that they weren’t even given a single ball to deliver or face.
Navaid, however, refuted those claims and claimed the trials were conducted in a very thorough and professional manner. “The trail last year was hugely successful,” he said. “It was an open trial and it catered to more than 20 million people, so obviously we can’t satisfy everyone. But through those trials, we managed to shortlist 400 players and then further refined the list from which we organised a hugely successful tournament.”
He added: “We’ve already identified 7-8 players who we will be looking to add in the emerging players’ category this season.”
Discussing player development, franchise manager said the players are provided the best of facilities at the Rashid Latif Cricket Academy (RLCA). ” We have our training sessions at the RLCA and there we normally invite 75 players,” he said. “Some of them don’t show up because they have other professional commitments. Those who do show up are provided with the best facilities.”
Navaid added the Karachi franchise will be reaching out to the rest of Sindh in the coming months. “For next season, we have bigger plans,” said Navaid. “We are looking to conduct trials in four to five cities Sindh, so we are hopeful of having more players for the next few editions.”
While talking about if Kings will move in the same direction like other franchises and invest in the foreign leagues, Navaid said: “No, we are not looking to invest in the South African or any other league, but taking teams for the foreign tour is surely in the pipeline and it will happen in the future.”
Captaincy remains Kings’ most discussed issue over the course of last two seasons, as Shoaib Malik resigned from the post, not once, but twice, which led to the appointment of former Sri Lankan great Kumara Sangakkara in the second edition.
But the 39-year-old is doubtful for next year’s edition which means the franchise is in need of a new captain. However, Navaid confirms it is too early to talk about it. “For the next edition, captaincy issue is yet to be discussed,” he said. “So I believe it is too early to speculate.”