PCB set to award central contracts to twenty leading players today

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Chief selector Misbahul Haq has prepared a list of 19 or 20 players whose names will be announced today. — AP/File
Chief selector Misbahul Haq has prepared a list of 19 or 20 players whose names will be announced today. — AP/File

LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is somehow looking in a hurry to announce the next central contract of the players on Tuesday, in times when uncertainty is looming over the resumption of the international cricket activities around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic

Moreover, the cricket committee meeting of the PCB is also going to be held on Wednesday to discuss the future of departmental cricket, which has been abolished by the incumbent management of the PCB, rendering thousands of cricketers jobless. It will also consider the point of awarding central contracts to the domestic players of six provincial teams.

PCB chief executive Wasim Khan, in a media talk on Monday, said that head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq has prepared a list of 19 or 20 players for the central contracts and their names would be announced on Tuesday.

“Head Coach and Chief Selector Misbah-ul-Haq was working on finalising the contracts for the last two to three weeks. Misbah has now shortlisted the names to 19 or 20. The list will be discussed internally before it is sent to the Chairman for his approval. The contracts are likely to be divided in three categories, despite the prevailing situation the Board is thinking of increasing the value of the contracts rather than decreasing their value,” said Wasim.

However, what is perplexing is that the existing contracts of the players will expire on June 30, so the PCB has enough time to assess the situation regarding the resumption of international cricket. At present the situation is uncertain as the staging of the Asia Cup and the World Twenty20 — to be held from September to November this year - is still unclear.

Pakistan’s cricket tour of England, comprising three Test and as many T20Is — is scheduled to start from July 30, but still doubts are hanging over it.

There are reports that former captain Sarfraz Ahmad will be relegated to C category since he is struggling with his form and is unsure about retaining his place in the national team.

Wasim hinted that the players, who are playing in all the three formats of the game, are likely to get increase in their salaries in the new contracts. So Babar Azam, captain of the Pakistan T20 team, who is playing in all the three formats will be among those players who will be pleased with the new contract. On the other hand, Test captain Azhar Ali, who has confined himself to only red-ball cricket, may not get any increase in his salary. However, Azhar may get the A category instead of his existing B category.

Wasim also disclosed that a meeting of the Cricket Committee has been convened for May 13. “The Central Contracts and domestic cricket will be the issues discussed during the meeting, and departmental cricket will also be part of the meeting agenda. Domestic cricket remains PCB’s priority and at present planning for the next season is underway.

Due to the pandemic, the domestic season has already been delayed and may get off from Sept 14 this year.

“The performances of the coaches of all six associations will be reviewed while the formation of the interim committees is in its final stages. We are trying to limit our expenditure and hope to have at least 50 per cent of the expenses of domestic cricket sponsored but due to the ongoing situation sponsorships are not available at present. Considering the situation, PCB will like last year, re-invest in domestic cricket in the forthcoming season,” he concluded.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2020