LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Saturday unveiled a completely revamped 2019-20 domestic cricket structure while claiming the new system will produce quality cricketers who’ll show consistency.
The PCB also announced that it would decentralise the powers, currently held by it, to the cricket associations.
However, confining the first-class competition to just six provincial teams and scrapping the previous 16-team event, several contentious decisions have been taken.
Central Punjab, which has been the hub of the Punjab, has three big regions — Lahore, Sialkot and Faisalabad — but collectively they’ll field just one first-class team. According to the latest census, these three regions between them have a population of 50-60 million.
In contrast, the South Punjab team, having a total population of almost half of Central will also have one team from regions of Multan and Bahawalpur who both don’t boast of having won major titles in the past. It is learnt that initially there was proposal to include Faisalabad in the South Province to maintain a balance.
Moreover, Lahore, country’s second largest city after Karachi, is allowed to form three teams for the inter-city cricket association championship, cutting it down from the original six. According to the existing system, Lahore has three zones and each has to field two teams. Each Zone of Lahore has 40-50 registered clubs while the total numbers of clubs in three zones are 132.
Amazingly, the PCB has opted to consider a city association which has minimum 12 clubs. But it did not fix maximum number of the clubs. For that reasons small cities having just 12 clubs are being considered equal with cities with 40 or more clubs.
The domestic structure was announced by PCB chief executive Wasim Khan at a media conference at the Gaddafi Stadium after PCB chairman Ehsan Mani briefed the gathering about the benefits of the new structure.
Ehsan said that the cricket must be the first priority of every one. But he was disappointed that a lobby had moved the Lahore High Court to get stay against the newly-amended PCB constitution.
“The move of this lobby has even threatened the commencement of the domestic system, for this year, but they went to play with the game for own interest,” he said. “The new system is being introduced to produce quality cricket and for that reason some strict decision had been taken. This new system will bring quality in Pakistan cricket.”
However, when pointed out that injustice had been done with the formation of Central Punjab, there was no satisfactory answer forthcoming from the PCB panel, which included the controversial director of domestic cricket Haroon Rasheed, besides Ehsan and Wasim.
Ehsan said that the PCB had unnecessarily centralized cricket and he wanted to decentralize by giving powers to the cricket associations so that function independently. He said in this regard he would also like to hand over the PCB-owned stadia in the country to the large cricket associations.
To a question, Ehsan said after decentralising the powers to the associations, the PCB would be able to give more attention to improve the cricket infrastructure.
Under the new system, inter-club cricket of each city will form a team which will compete in the inter-city championship. The best players of the second tier will form the respective provincial teams to compete in first-class events of all three formats from which Pakistan teams will be picked.
However, throughout the briefing there was not a single word said about the format of women cricket.
To a question in this regard, Haroon said decision had also been taken about it.
According to the new provincial cricket associations’ formation, Sindh comprises Karachi, Hyderabad and Larkana. The weakest area in term of cricketing activities, Balochistan comprises Dera Murad Jamali and Quetta.
Southern Punjab Cricket Association includes Multan and Bahawalpur, while Central Punjab Cricket Association is made up of Faisalabad, Sialkot and Lahore.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Cricket Association includes Peshawar, FATA and Abbottabad and similarly, Northern Cricket Association comprises Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Azad Jammu Kashmir.
And these six provincial bodies will have the affiliation of 90 cities. About the players’ earning, it has been decided that 32 non-PCB centrally contracted players would be awarded annual domestic contracts at each cricket association and will feature in first-class, non-first class, List ‘A’, and T20 tournaments during a season.
The cricket associations will also be free to select players from outside the pool of 32 contracted players on per-match payment.
Each of the domestic contracted players will receive monthly retainers of Rs50,000 and it is anticipated that a high-performing player will earn between Rs2 million to Rs2.5 million per season in terms of allowances, match fees and prize money (details to be announced in due course).
Each cricket association will have a players’ support personnel staff which will include head coaches, batting coaches, bowling coaches, fielding coaches, trainers, physiotherapists and video analysts to look after first class, second XI, U-19, U-16, U-13 teams and high performance programmes.
There will also be three selectors working with a cricket association each.
In the beginning, the PCB will finance all the activities of the cricket associations and with the passage of time sponsors would be hired for them to run their affairs at their own.
Pakistan’s cricketing season 2019-20 will commence from Sept 14 with the first round of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, the country’s premier first-class tournament.
A total number of 31 matches — including the final — will be played, with every team playing 10 matches, home and away, on double round-robin basis.
With the commencement of the World Test Championship, red ball cricket remains a primary focus. The context behind the new scheduling will provide players with an opportunity to stake their claim and to equip themselves for the pressures of the Test Championship.
Meanwhile, Kookaburra balls would be used in all these tournaments.
Quaid-e-Azam Trophy (first-class, four-day matches with a five-day final):
First phase: Sept 14 Sept- Oct 8; second phase: Oct 28-Dec 13.
National Under-19 tournament (three-day and one-day): Oct 1- Nov12.
Quaid-e-Azam Trophy (2nd XI, three-day matches with a four-day final):
First phase — Sept 14-Oct 10; second phase — Oct 28-Nov 29.
National Twenty20 Cup (both first and second XIs to run simultaneously):
Oct 13-24: First XIs will compete in Faisalabad and second XIs in Karachi.
Pakistan Cup (One-day) (both first and second XIs to run simultaneously):
March 29-April 24, 2020.
Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2019