Pakistan's limited-overs captain Shahid Afridi has accepted an offer to lead one of the provinces in the inaugural edition of the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) later this year.
"I've accepted an offer to be captain of one of the teams in the SLPL," Afridi, 31, told Pakistani daily The News. "It's a good opportunity and I will try to make the most of it. There is a comfortable window for us [Pakistan's cricketers] to feature in the league in Sri Lanka. We have a sufficient break from international cricket this summer."
The SLPL comes as a shot in the arm for Pakistan's cricketers who have been ignored by the lucrative Indian Premier League since the inaugural edition in 2008. Afridi revealed that he has signed a three-year contract, and will receive US$35,000 for the first season of the SLPL, with the amount doubling in 2012. He is expected to be joined by Pakistan team-mates Misbah-ul-Haq, Shoaib Akhtar, Abdul Razzaq, Umar Gul and Umar Akmal in the tournament.
SLPL 2011 will be a seven-team inter-provincial tournament played over approximately 18 days in July-August. The teams will play each other once, with the top four teams qualifying for the semi-finals. All the games will be played at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo and the winner of the tournament will qualify for the Champions League Twenty20.
Each team will have a mix of Sri Lanka and international players with total squad sizes varying between 16 and 18 players. The playing XI must consist of a minimum of seven Sri Lanka players and a maximum of four international players, with one Sri Lanka player being a current Under-21 cricketer. Each team will also have its share of icon or marquee players, as well as a prominent ex-Sri Lanka player as a mentor or coach.
International players will also be assigned to the various teams by the SLC national selection committee depending on the needs of each team. In this respect, SLC's approach differs from the IPL, in which teams were sold to franchises who then bid for players in an auction. Among the international players who will be taking part are Kieron Pollard, Chris Gayle, Shahid Afridi, Daniel Vettori, Daniel Christian, Herschelle Gibbs and Kevin O'Brien.