PCB to help financially-stricken cricketers, officials, groundstaff

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PCB will support first-class cricketers (only men) and other stakeholders facing hardship in the wake of the lockdown. — AFP/File
PCB will support first-class cricketers (only men) and other stakeholders facing hardship in the wake of the lockdown. — AFP/File

LAHORE: Finally demonstrating a sympathetic stance, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Sunday announced to help the country’s cricketers and technical officials, other than the contractual ones, as they face a financial crisis following a complete halt in sport activities due to the spread of coronavirus pandemic.

According to the PCB announcement, it would support first-class cricketers (only men) and other stakeholders facing hardship in the wake of the lockdown triggered by the Covid-19. The crisis has resulted in the suspension of domestic as well as international cricket.

“Along with the first-class cricketers, the support will also be extended to match officials, scorers and ground staff as the PCB has set aside funds from its current fiscal year in these challenging and unprecedented times during which economic activity around the world has taken a big hit,” read a PCB press release issued on Sunday.

“With limited funds available and to ensure only the deserving candidates are supported, the PCB has put together an eligibility criteria, which is:

“First-class cricketers who featured in the 2018-19 season and have played at least 15 first-class matches in the past five seasons from 2014-15 to 2018-19; match officials and scorers who have officiated in PCB-organised events over the past two seasons; ground staff that had been employed by the now defunct regional/district cricket associations before Jan 1, 2013 [should have approximately eight years of service],” the release added.

“The first-class cricketers who meet the criteria will receive Rs25,000 each. Every match official will get Rs15,000 while the scorers and groundstaff members will be given Rs10,000 each, once and for all, under this package.

“Those wishing to benefit from the one-time scheme are advised to contact the PCB at welfare@pcb.com.pk from Monday, May 4, to Thursday, May 14, 2020. This will give the PCB sufficient time to carry out its diligence before releasing funds to the eligible candidates before Eid-ul-Fitr.

“Respecting privacy of the applicants, the PCB has assured the identities will be treated in strict confidence and the PCB will not make any announcement in relation to who and how many benefitted from this one-time scheme.”

It may be mentioned here that a good number of first-class cricketers had already become jobless as a result of PCB’s decision of abandoning departmental cricket. The PCB has offered the central contract to Pakistan and six provincial teams’ players, the number of which are around 2015. But as due to Covid-19 domestic cricket activities have also stopped, many scorers, umpires, cricketers and groundstaff members are facing financial crisis without any regular income.

Meanwhile, PCB chairman Ehsan Mani said, “The PCB feels it has a duty of care towards its stakeholders and, as such, it is imperative that we stand by our people during the lockdown period and support them in the lead up to Eid-ul-Fitr. It was the right time to support cricketers, match officials, scorers and grounds staff in this hour of need.

“It is also heartening to see our cricketers coming out and supporting the people in need by auctioning their prized possessions and through various charities. While I am sure many players are making donations in private, I want to applaud and appreciate Shahid Afridi, Rumman Raees and Azhar Ali who have been at the forefront of this noble cause and have been doing outstanding work.”

This is PCB’s latest initiative to contribute in these challenging times after it had earlier contributed more than Rs10 million in the Prime Minister’s Covid-19 Pandemic Relief Fund with half of the share coming from the centrally-contracted men and women cricketers and the Board’s staff members.

In March, the PCB turned Karachi’s Hanif Mohammad High Performance Centre into a sanctuary for the paramedical staff, working at a makeshift hospital at the Expo Centre nearby.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2020