The Pakistan Cricket Board on Monday demoted veteran cricketer Mohammad Hafeez on its list of centrally contracted players and promoted batsman Babar Azam as it handed new one-year deals to its pool of national players, DawnNewsTV reported.

Advancing years and frequent bowling bans due to his erratic action have seen the 37-year-old Hafeez's utility to the team diminish. Those twin factors may have played a part in his demotion from Category A to B.

The beneficiary of Hafeez's slide has been top order batter Azam, who has been moved from Category B to A. The rest of the top category's occupants remain unchanged.

The size of Category B, meanwhile, has been increased from four to six. All-rounder Faheem Ashraf, opener Fakhar Zaman and spin sensation Shadab Khan are the new entrants into the category.

All-rounder Imad Wasim, who last played for Pakistan in October 2017, has been demoted from Category B to C.

In all, the board handed contracts to 33 players — seven of whom fall in the newly created Category E. The new category is the PCB's way to recognize the top performers of the domestic circuit as well as to encourage the continuing development of emerging cricketers.

The fresh deals, which followed a fresh three-year agreement between the board and the players', see the playing staff's monthly remuneration go up between 25-30 per cent. The match fee has also been increased by 20 per cent across all categories.

Further, pay raises will also be granted in year 2 and 3 of the agreement.

Category A

Azhar Ali, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed, Yasir Shah, Babar Azam, Mohammad Amir

Category B

Muhammad Hafeez, Faheem Ashraf, Asad Shafiq, Hasan Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Shadab Khan

Category C

Muhammad Abbas, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Haris Sohail, Imamul Haq, Muhammad Nawaz, Usman Khan Shinwari, Shaan Masood, Imad Wasim,

Category D

Rumman Raees, Asif Ali, Rahat Ali, Usman Salahuddin, Hussain Talat,

Category E

Bilal Asif, Saad Ali, Muhammad Rizwan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sahibzada Farhan, Umaid Asif, Mir Hamza

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