Pakistan Domestic Cricket Learns The Massive Renovation > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Pakistan domestic cricket undergoes massive revamp
In a bid to improve the quality of its feeder level, the Pakistan Cricket Board has decided to go in for a major overhaul of its domestic cricket structure, with the standout decision being the reduction of the number of teams from 16 to 6, with all the banks and departments going out of the system and being replaced by six provinces: Sindh (Karachi, Hyderabad and Larkan), Southern Punjab (Multan and Bahwalpur), Central Punjab (Lahore, Sialkot and Faisalabad), Balochistan (Dera Murad Jamali and Quetta), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Peshawar, FATA and Abbottabad) and Northern areas (Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Azad-Jammu Kashmir). These six provincial teams will now also have their Second XIs, competing in a different set of competitions. For now, due to a limited pool of women cricketers (only around 45 in the country), these associations will not be responsible for running women's cricket.
Wasim Khan, PCB's chief executive, said, "If you see countries like India, Australia and England, the ownership lied with different regions. That was not the case with Pakistan so far, where PCB handled everything. Now, it's time to give the onus back to the respective regions to develop cricket in their regions. These bodies will have autonomy and they will have to run their own business. In order to have sustainability, this has to be run as a business." This decision, more than any other taken as a part of this overhaul, will be the one to leave the biggest impact - for the better or for the worse.
When the departments and banks were brought into the domestic setup in the 1970s, it was with a view to provide jobs to the players. However, as the years rolled by, it didn't serve its purpose, and in turn, affected the quality of cricket. With as many as 592 players playing in the major domestic competitions, the numbers increased but the quality of cricket got diluted. The latest decision leaves only the 96 of the best players in the country to be competing in the prime domestic competitions.
What it also does is that it throws almost 400 players out of the system. Wasim Khan, however, explains, "Of the 160 department cricketers, 57 have played a maximum of only 2 first-class games last season." While the top players (some of whom who even had central PCB contracts) were contracted or employed by the banks, the lower grade players were handed temporary 3-month or 6-month long contracts when the domestic season was on. As a part of the restructuring, the six provincial teams will be handing annual contract to 32 players - 16 each from the first and the second XI - unless they are part of PCB's central contract. There will also be a significant rise in their pay, with a domestic player being able to earn up to a maximum of PKR 2 million (excluding DA, prize money, etc).
The onus of the payment of the players on the provinces also comes as a result of PCB decentralising the running of cricket in the country. As per the earlier system, the board took control of running the cricketing affairs in the country, which will now be a responsibility of the six associations to do so in their respective regions. In order to create the initial structure, the national body will aid them with funds and support for the next three years.
PCB will also spend PKR 2 billion in upgrading the stadiums in Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Rawalpindi and Quetta.
These associations will run the first-class cricket as well as the second XIs, Under 19s and school cricket in their respective regions, as per the framework provided by the PCB.
The new domestic structure will be based on a three-tiered bottom up approach:
- In the first tier, the 90 city cricket associations (16 in Central Punjab, 14 in Southern Punjab, 17 in Sindh, 19 in KPK, 13 in Balochistan and 11 in Northern Punjab) will be responsible for organising club and school cricket in their respective jurisdictions and subsequently forming their city cricket teams
- In the second tier, the city cricket teams will participate in intra-city competitions within the jurisdiction of their cricket associations
- In the third tier, the best performing players from the intra-city competitions will form the six respective cricket association side that will participate in the PCB-organised tournaments
City cricket associations, as per the new constitution, will replace the districts and will run club cricket, Under 13s and Under 16s. They will regulate the affairs of cricket in their cities. They will be autonomous bodies but will have the framework provided by the national body and will also be audited by the PCB, as a measure to ensure ample tournaments are held and there is a meritocracy in selection. They will be funded by the PCB for now, but the long term approach is to ensure that they are self-sustainable and responsible for generating sponsorship.
Wasim Khan added, "We know that last time there was a lot of corruption. There were a lot of reports from the media about people trying to get votes. This will stop. We will restrict and remove some of the politics going on. We will have financial as well as an activity audit. To deal with this issue, PCB will move to online scoring for these games, to make sure we can monitor who is playing what they are saying. Even the fixture list will come out and we can measure and check. We will have spot checks to ensure things are happening as per the claims."
Reducing the number of teams will invariably reduce the number of matches, and as a result, allow the games to be spaced out better. The previous scheduling was so packed that often at the same venue, two matches were scheduled to be played in a space of only two days. So in some games, there was lively grass, in some other there was uneven bounce, and at worst, both together. Tracks got tired and there wasn't enough time to work on it. From 69 domestic matches organised earlier, it will now go down to 31 with each team playing 10 games each on home and away basis.
This will also aim at negating the selection flaw that existed. There has been a criticism in the last few years that Test players were selected from T20 performances and T20 players were selected from first-class performances, as the selectors depended more on the recency of form rather than the performances in the respective formats. So now, the schedule will be drafted in a way that the days matches will be before a Test series and domestic T20 games will be before a T20 series.
Quality of Pitches
The PCB is also looking to diversify the nature of pitches across the country. In order to give challenging conditions for the batsmen, the board had decided to have green tracks across the country in the last decade. As a result, teams were getting shot out quickly. In the last two years, teams have been shot out for less than hundred 25 times. The batsmen were not used to playing long innings, spinners hardly had a role to play and pacers cut down on their pace and concentrated on seam and swing. As a result, enough fast bowlers weren't coming through from the system. And the batsmen, whom it was supposed to aid, ended up playing most of their international games in the dry surfaces of UAE.
Change in balls
In another big call, the upcoming domestic season will be played with Kookaburra balls instead of Dukes. This has come into effect mainly due to the fact that the international home games (in UAE) are played with the former. Due to the previous system, players excelling in domestic cricket found it tough to make the transition to international cricket.
Live telecast of domestic cricket
For the first time, 30 to 40 days of Pakistan's domestic cricket will be televised, but the crew will largely be hired from outside the country. Ehsan Mani explains, "We don't have the live sports production capacity in Pakistan. Even for PSL, we had to hire the crew from outside. There aren't enough trained cameramen. We have had talks with television companies in Pakistan to increase their production capacity. This will benefit cricket in Pakistan."
The new domestic season is set to begin from September 14 with the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, and will concluded with the Pakistan One-Day Tournament, on April 24, 2020. "Our domestic cricket needs to feed into our international cricket," Wasim Khan explained. "There needs to be a clear narrative and context. Balls, wickets, quality of wickets, preparation time, we have factored in everything. Till the time we don't get the system right, the next 12 months is going to be really hard for us. Everything is not going to be first rate. But in time, this will work. We have done a lot of research, a lot of hard work."
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