LAHORE: In a major policy change, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has restricted its centrally-contracted players to just two foreign Twenty20 leagues in a single season besides making it mandatory for non-contracted players to feature in at least three first-class matches in order to get NOC for competing in three T20 leagues during one season.
A high-level PCB committee discussed various cricket-related matters during a meeting held here on May 3. Its decisions however were announced on Wednesday after the approval from PCB chairman Najam Sethi — the head of the committee — was received.
The members of the committee who attended the meeting include PCB chief operating officer Subhan Ahmed, director academies Mudassar Nazar, chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, director cricket operations Haroon Rasheed, adviser to PCB chairman Shakil Shaikh and senior manager domestic cricket operations Saqib Irfan.
The agenda of the meeting encompassed rules for privately organised cricket events, NOC policy for players participating in foreign T20 leagues, proposed domestic cricket structure and existing infrastructure and its uplift.
According to the decision, PCB’s centrally-contracted players are restricted to feature in two T20 leagues during a season while non-contracted players three domestic first-class matches to get the NOC for competing in T20 leagues.
“Retired players do not need any NOC from the PCB. However, as per the ICC rule they are bound to obtain NOC from the PCB for two years from the date of their retirement,” the decision reads.
“To deal with special cases not covered under the rules, i.e. for exceptions, a four-member committee comprising chairman, chief selector, head coach [Pakistan team] and director cricket operations will decide to issue NOC for players participation in any additional league,” it added.
In other noteworthy decisions regarding domestic cricket, the said committee cut short the cost of the domestic season and to raise match fees for domestic players, by suspending the monthly stipend scheme of top 20 players of each region. It also decided to upgrade 18 different stadiums across the country to enable them to host first-class matches according to international standards.On a proposal made by Inzamam, an amendment was made to the domestic structure, according to which one-day and four-day matches will be held simultaneously with one-day break between two matches.
“It will cut short the cost of domestic [cricket] budget because in the existing system 15 players of each season go separately to play one-day tournament and then another 15 to play four-day matches. But now a 17-member team will be allowed to travel once to play both the matches. So, it will reduce the expenditure of travelling and accommodation and food to a significant extent,” sources told Dawn.
It was also decided that “eight regions and eight departments will play first-class cricket in a combined Quaid-i-Azam Trophy. The bottom-ranked team of regions i.e. Faisalabad from 2017-18 Quaid Trophy will be relegated to QAT Grade-II and in its place the top-ranked region team of Grade-II 2017-18 winner of QAT G-II will be promoted to first-class cricket for the 2018-19 season”.
“Likewise, bottom-ranked departmental team i.e. National Bank of Pakistan from 2017-18 QAT will be relegated to Patron’s Trophy Grade-II and in its place top-ranked departmental team of Patron’s Trophy Grade-II i.e. ZTBL will be promoted to first-class cricket for the 2018-19 season,” it was further decided.
The Seth-headed committee also decided to scrap the scheme of giving stipend to 20 best players of each region. The amount of this scheme will now be used to enhance match fees of the 15 playing members of each match.
“There are growing problems that once the player got his name in the list of stipend [he] is not available for the full season. Under the new system, now the amount of the stipend will be divided only among the 15 players of the region, besides the existing match fees, who will be in the team playing a match.
For example 20 players of each region gets Rs5 million annually as stipend and now this amount will be divided among 15 players, available for a first-class match.
According to the PCB report, the Board gives monthly stipend to 20 players of each region. Among them Rs28,000 go to 10 players and Rs22,000 to another 10 players, with no binding on players to play maximum number of matches.
Moreover, it was also decided by the committee that 18 stadiums and small cricket grounds would be equipped with latest facilities.
These venues include National Stadium, Karachi, NBP Sports Complex, UBL Sports Complex, Niaz Stadium (Hyderabad), Dring Stadium (Bahawalpur), Multan Cricket Stadium (Multan), Gaddafi Stadium (Lahore), LCCA ground (Lahore), Iqbal Stadium (Faisalabad), Jinnah Stadium (Sialkot), Sports Stadium (Sargodha), Pindi Cricket Stadium (Rawalpindi), KRL Stadium, Diamond Club Ground and National Ground (all Islamabad), Abbottabad Cricket Stadium (Abbottabad), Arbab Niaz Stadium (Peshawar) and Mardan Stadium.
According to the decision made by the committee, PCB chief’s adviser Shakil will visit all the above-mentioned venues in order to prepare a comprehensive report in a month’s time after which the upgrade (of the venues) will start. Mudassar and Haroon may accompany Shakil in this process.
It was also decided that the organisation of PCB-controlled club cricket at districts level will be outsourced. This tournament will be in addition to the mandatory requirement of districts to organise two club-level competitions.
“Number of teams participating in Patron’s Trophy Grade-II in 2018-19 will be reduced to 16 to bring quality and competitiveness to the event. This will be done on the basis of more stringent criteria for qualification of teams to play Patron’s Trophy Grade-II,” it is said.
The PCB committee further decided, “Rules for holding private league(s) have been made elaborately clear to the applicant(s) for clear understanding and applicant(s) will have to fully abide by the rules made for granting permission to hold private league(s) before issuing any NOC(s) to them.
“The rules will be circulated shortly to all parties who have shown interest in holding private tournaments involving current players.”