LAHORE: Twenty-five players earned the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) central contract on Wednesday, first time for a three-year period, with a significant increase in monthly retainers as well as match fees for all four categories.
The period of the central contract starts from July 1, 2023 and runs until June 30, 2026.
The PCB had to announce the contracts before July 1, 2023 but uncertainty in the Board due to change of command at the top and a prolonged dialogue with the players, who were seeking more share from the PCB income, caused the delay.
“The PCB confirmed that it has successfully negotiated a three-year central contracts deal with its senior players that will run from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2026. As many as 25 cricketers will be offered a momentous deal that will include a portion of International Cricket Council (ICC) revenue,” a PCB press release stated on Wednesday.
“Unlike last year, red-ball and white-ball national contracts have been merged. This decision was proposed by the central contract committee as a way to evaluate players in terms of winning matches, and is aimed at promoting fairness, transparent selection process.
“The list of players will be divided into four categories with significant increases in monthly retainers. Revenue from ICC will be incorporated in overall monthly remuneration,” read the release.
The contract of top Category ‘A’ contains captain Babar Azam, wicket-keeper/batter Mohammad Rizwan and fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi. This category was given a 202 per cent raise in the monthly retainer.
Category ‘B’ comprises six players: vice-captain Shadab Khan, openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq, left-arm orthodox spinner Mohammad Nawaz along with pacers Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah. The players of this category received an increase of 144 per cent.
All-rounder Imad Wasim, who last played for Pakistan in April this year in a T20 International, was included in Category ‘C’ along with in-form opener Abdullah Shafique. This category got a raise of 135 per cent.
Category ‘D’ consists of 14 players including former Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, young wicket-keeper/batter Mohammad Haris, openers Shan Masood and Saim Ayub, middle-order batters Saud Shakeel and Iftikhar Ahmed, fast bowlers Hasan Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Wasim Junior, Zaman Khan and Shahnawaz Dahani and Ihsanullah, all-rounder Salman Ali Agha and leg-spinner Usama Mir.
Players’ match fees have also been enhanced significantly, with 50 per cent increment in Test, 25 per cent in ODI and 12.5 per cent in T20 International.
According to the agreement reached between the PCB and the players, the centrally-contracted players featuring in domestic cricket will be paid 50 per cent of the international match fee. In addition, players will be allowed to compete in two foreign T20 leagues during each season. Overall, they will play three leagues as Pakistan Super League (PSL) is a local event.
The PCB wanted to allow participation in only one foreign league but the players insisted on at least two, besides PSL.
“The three-year tenure of the contacts will have its financial model locked for the term. Player performance however will be reviewed after every 12 months. The previous central contract cycle expired on June 30  and the new deal will be deemed effective from July 1, 2023,” the PCB release stated further.
Meanwhile lauding the deal, PCB Interim Management Committee chairman Zaka Ashraf said the deal would motivate the players to improve their performance further.
“I am pleased to announce that after lengthy negotiations, the PCB has come to a financial agreement with the players,” Zaka said.
“This deal signifies our commitment to improving the financial health of our players, acknowledging their hard work and dedication to the game. We firmly believe that a financially secure and motivated team is more likely to excel on the field.
“As we move forward, the entire nation stands behind these players to do well in the upcoming ICC World Cup. We have faith in their abilities, and we are confident that they will make the nation proud with their outstanding performances.”
Babar termed the agreement historic.
“It is by far a historic deal. I am extremely happy and satisfied that we have reached an agreement with the PCB. It has been a lengthy and, at times, challenging negotiation process, but I believe we have reached a fair and beneficial agreement for both [the] parties,” the skipper remarked.
“I would like to extend my special thanks to chairman Zaka Ashraf for personally overseeing and facilitating these negotiations.
“This agreement signifies a new chapter in players’ career and in Pakistan cricket. It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of all players towards the game and now we are all geared up ahead of the World Cup,” Babar said.
Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2023