LAHORE - Pakistan Super League (PSL) chairman Najam Sethi has termed the success of HBL PSL a success for Pakistan as it presented a softer image of the country across the globe.

Speaking at a press briefing here at the Gaddafi Stadium Friday, Sethi said: “We faced multiple challenges in holding the country’s first ever league of the country but the active support of all the stakeholders helped us a lot in overcoming all those challenges and organising the tournament in a successful way.”

He said due to all-out support of the entire nation for the PSL, the league proved to be a unifying factor for the country. “The PSL has given Pakistanis a national product that they can proudly own and the response of the fans was also outstanding and was a key ingredient in making the event a success for which I am really grateful to all Pakistani fans who came to witness the PSL from across the world,” said Sethi.

Speaking about the commercial aspect of the PSL, Sethi said the league’s commercial value had grown due to the tremendous response that it received from the fans. “The PSL’s TV ratings are comparable to Pakistan’s World Cup matches, which is an incredible achievement for us,” said Sethi.

Sethi termed the presence of international cricketers fruitful for budding local players and reiterated that this had already started having an impact on Pakistan cricket. “These three weeks of highly-competitive T20 league transformed many youngsters into prolific players giving recognition to them in the world of cricket. Sharing dressing rooms and making friendship with top-notch cricket stars help them learn invaluable facet of the game.”

“All the foreign cricketers were jewels of our inaugural league. They provided us with an overwhelming and encouraging feedback about their experience in the PSL,” he added.

Expressing his satisfaction over transparency of the league, the PSL head said: “The PSL’s anti-corruption efforts were benchmarked against international best practices. We were not only able to devise an effective anti-corruption policy but, with the cooperation of all five franchises, we were able to successfully implement the policy in a transparent manner.”

Sethi thanked all the five franchise owners and their managements for successfully partnering with the PSL and also lauded their efforts for their support in making the tournament a huge success. He also thanked Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, PCB chairman Shaharyar Khan, PCB board of governors, PSL governing council and all members of the PSL team for their continued support.

He asserted: “If not all, at least two matches of Pakistan Super League would be played in this country next year with authorities in Karachi and Lahore pledging to provide full security as Pakistan will follow PSL with hockey and squash league too.” He sounded determined to bring the PSL to Pakistan next year ‘where it belongs’ and for this purpose, the PSL organisers were already in touch with some foreign players. “The authorities in Karachi and Lahore are urging us to convince players to visit the country as they are ready to provide foolproof security. I have discussed with Dean Jones and Kevin Pietersen about their views and there are positive signs."

When asked about the financial side of the event, he said that there was a lot of money in Pakistan and people were ready to splash it on cricket. "This year, we had five teams and believe me, I am receiving many offers from the people who want to buy the sixth franchise," he said.

“It is a win-win situation for Pakistan. We need to invest something to earn in future and signs look brighter for the PSL team owners,” he said and added: "All the franchise owners are more than happy and they are ready to splash more money. The successful holding has multiplied the value of their brand."

Talking about chances of India-Pakistan series, Sethi didn't sound very positive and said: “It is sad that two of the giants of Asia are not playing bilateral series. First of all, India owes us our two home series and then we will tour India. We are ready to play our home series anywhere (UAE, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh) and the ball is in India's court. I hope there may be a series between India and Pakistan in September 2016. It will be our series and all the revenue will go to the PCB," he added.