LAHORE: After failing to convince the patron-in-chief of Pakistan Cricket Board, Prime Minister Imran Khan over the proposed model of domestic cricket structure which comprised eight regional teams at the top and as many regional sides in the Grade-II and with a sponsorship role for the departments, the PCB think-tank has decided to formulate a new model on provincial basis that will restrict the teams to six.
The PM had rejected the proposed draft when a delegation of the PCB met him in Islamabad last month comprising all top officials. Imran, in turn, had asked the delegation to come up with a draft comprising six teams at the first-class level.
Dawn learnt on authority that in order to implement the instructions given by the prime minister, a plan has been devised under which Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, KP and Federal Areas cricket associations will be formed, thus ending the current set-up of 16 regional bodies. In the domestic cricket circuit — from U-16 to first-class cricket — six teams will be representing their respective provinces with Punjab fielding two teams in each tournament while other provinces will enter one team apiece. However, the associations at city level will continue to work to feed the players to the provincial teams and to play B-grade cricket.
“We are starting work on the new programme to base the domestic cricket on provincial level as per the instructions of the prime minister. The current affiliated departments of the PCB will be asked to sponsor the provincial associations and if they are not ready to do it, then the PCB will run it from its own sources,” a PCB official said.
The official, on condition of anonymity, told Dawn that soon the exercise to make the provincial base system will start and, in the first step, clubs across the country will be scrutinised. He said no bogus club will be allowed to function which had been existing in big numbers and were misusing the funds and precious time of the PCB. He ensured that very strict scrutiny process will commence soon.
“After completing the draft of the system — from club to provincial level — and after gaining the approval of the patron, an amendment in the PCB constitution will be sought to implement the new system in letter and spirit,” he said.
However, the official admitted that in the new system, the players currently representing the departments may lose their jobs but by appearing for their provincial teams they will get match fees.
He also admitted that match fees could not be the alternate of the monthly salaries which the cricketers were getting from their departments for representing their teams in the current domestic system, but they will get good money by representing the provincial teams.
It may be mentioned here that several former cricketers, who had earned handsome amounts of money by representing the departments and by holding key posts on sports basis in leading departments such as PIA, in banking industry and other organisations, are vehemently opposing the idea of abolishing the role of departmental cricket.
According to them, the departments are not only a big source for the cricketers to earn good money but also enjoy their game under a comfortable atmosphere which may not be available at regional or provincial levels.
It may be mentioned here that the provincial-based system had already been tested during the tenure of retired Lt Gen Tauqir Zia back in 2002 but it was not very successful.
Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2019