Wednesday Apr 03, 2019 | By: Web Desk
KARACHI: Habib Bank Limited (HBL) has decided to shut down its cricket team but it will continue to invest in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), which it has been the title sponsor of from its inception in 2016.
The Bank has already abolished its football, hockey, table tennis, volleyball and badminton teams earlier, by 2016 and now the cricket team is also being scrapped after a 43-year involvement in Pakistan’s domestic cricket. The bank has decided not to renew contracts of its cricketers after they expired on March 31.
Habib Bank’s sports division was set up in the
early 1970s and its cricket team was formed in 1975. Since then, HBL did not miss a single season of domestic cricket.
However, this decision is not linked to recent moves to remove departmental cricket from the domestic structure, according to an HBL spokesperson.
He confirmed that though the cricket team will stop existing, the bank will continue to invest in PSL, the current deal is pegged at over $ 12 million.
"To continue to invest in PSL, and in the larger interest of cricket in Pakistan, HBL will redeploy its valuable resources from other avenues"
"HBL's title sponsorship of the PSL reflects our passion for the development of youth and the discovery of cricketing talent," its spokesperson said. "The PSL has given an opportunity to countless young cricketers to display their talent at a national and international level.”
Till the end of the last millennium, players were employed with the company, but after the privatisation of the bank in 2004, players were handed contracts, which were renewed ahead of every season. With the latest development, as many as 26 players and six support staffers have lost their contracts.
"HBL will look after the interests of its cricket team members in line with its policies," a statement said. "It foresees a great future for cricket in Pakistan where PSL will remain a catalyst for bringing international cricket to Pakistan and enabling more matches to be played in the country."
HBL's move aligns well with the PCB's in-principle decision to scrap departments from the first-class structure after prime minister Imran Khan decided to restructure Pakistan’s first-class cricket only on the basis of regional cricket.
Imran Khan, the former captain of the national cricket team, who led the country for winning the World Cup in 1992, had been a strong advocate of a domestic structure with only regional sides for much of his playing career.