The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Friday introduced separate red-ball and white-ball central contracts for its players with increased retainers but would discourage its elite players from competing in foreign leagues.
The PCB would offer players compensation for denying offers of participation from those leagues.
The PCB said the Board of Governors, in a meeting, approved an annual budget of PKR 15 billion for fiscal year 2022-23, with 78 percent of its budget allocated for cricket activities. “As part of its strategy to incentivise, reward and encourage its high-performing elite cricketers, as well as to narrow the gap in salaries compared to players of other countries, the BoG has approved changes in the men’s central contracts structure,” the PCB said in a statement.
From July 1, separate red and white-ball contracts will be given with increased retainers. The number of centrally contracted players has been increased from 20 to 33.
The Board announced a 10 per cent increase in match fees across formats and also an increase in match fee for non-playing members from 50 percent to 70 percent of the overall match fee. A captaincy allowance has also been introduced to compensate the team leader for the additional responsibilities that come with that role.
LIVE – PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja announces the outcomes from the 69th BoG meeting in a media conference at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore. https://t.co/viIDqR531O
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) June 24, 2022
‘Don’t want players tired or burnt out’
PCB chairman Ramiz Raja also announced at a media conference in Lahore that the Board had set up a special fund for current players who get offers for playing in foreign leagues. “We want to discourage our elite players from signing up for additional off-season events. We feel the players are better off not going to these leagues. We will pay them 50 to 60 percent of the contract amount they are offered where required. This is a very important season for us; we don’t want our players to be tired or burnt out. We want them to be ready and fresh to go for national duties.”
‘We feel the players are better off not going to these leagues. We will pay them 50 to 60 percent of the contract amount they are offered where required. This is a very important season for us; we don’t want our players to be tired or burnt out. We want them to be ready and fresh to go for national duties.’ – PCB chairman Ramiz Raja
Ramiz also confirmed a 15 percent increase in retainers of women’s central contracts across all categories. The pool of women’s centrally contracted players may be increased from 20 players to up to 25 players.
“Since September 2021, the Pakistan men’s cricket team has achieved an impressive 75 percent success rate across all formats, which is the highest amongst all the Test playing nations. This has contributed to Pakistan improving its rankings, which now stands at fifth in Tests (up by one), third in ODIs (up by three and the highest since January 2017) and third in T20Is (up by one),” Ramiz said.
Explaining the thought-process behind splitting red and white-ball contracts, Raja said this has been done to recognise the importance of white-ball cricket in the growth and development of the game.
“We have four international events in the next 16 months, including two World Cups. This recognition of offering contracts to white-ball specialists will help us to eventually develop two separate squads, which could simultaneously be engaged in white and red-ball cricket. This will also allow us to have a bigger spread of talent to showcase to the world.”
Ramiz made it clear that Pakistan was also working on the lines of creating a pool of talent where it can field simultaneous red and white-ball squads like India and England for international events and series. He said a Pakistan Cricket Foundation had been created to support retired cricketers, match officials, scorers and ground staff facing severe financial hardships.
Ramiz brushes aside rumours of being sacked
Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ramiz Raja has obliquely said he wants to continue in the top post, following prolonged speculations that he was likely to be sacked by the ruling government.
There have been speculations for months that Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif will soon bring in his own nominee to replace Ramiz as PCB chairman.
Shahbaz recently also held meetings with three former Chairman of the board, Khalid Mahmood, Zaka Ashraf and Najam Sethi on cricket matters leading to more speculations that Ramiz would be told to go home.
“It’s been two months now and we can’t live on speculations. If something had to happen it would have happened by now. Look unless you give continuity a chance nothing will improve in Pakistan cricket,” Ramiz said.
“Cricket gives me excitement. I have a lot of other options. The PM is our line in-charge and I have put in a request to meet him and brief him on what we are doing and our plans for the future.”
Ramiz said his goal is to improve cricket in Pakistan and the good work should not be disregarded. “There is no ego issue here, we just want to improve Pakistan cricket. If the constitution allows a change fine but just because of tradition you should not undo the good work,” he said.
“If we can achieve well-defined goals at the same time, why change? What I have seen is that we need to have corrections in our cricket and we have to build our capacity for talent and wishlists.”
Ramiz, however, conceded that the decision to dismiss him lies completely in the hands of PM Sharif, who is also the patron-in-chief of PCB. “It is the Patron-in-chief’s call but I think performance speaks for itself and if fans are with you it becomes difficult to make decisions,” he said.
It was former Prime Minister Imran Khan of the previous government who had roped in Ramiz as the PCB chairman last September.