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September 1, 2019

PCB announces detailed domestic schedule

September 1, 2019

KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Saturday unveiled its 2019-2020 domestic cricket schedule. The season will begin from September 14 with the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, the country's first-class event.

“Pakistan’s cricketing season 2019-20 will commence from September 14 with the first round of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, the country’s premier first-class tournament,” the PCB said. The Board said that as many as 31 matches, including the final, would be played in the six-team Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, with each outfit playing ten matches each, home and away, on double round-robin basis.

“With the commencement of the World Test Championship, red ball cricket remains a primary focus,”the Board said and added that it would equip the players for the pressures of the Test Championship.

“The first-class and non-first-class tournaments will run simultaneously, providing the six associations depth to choose the best XI for their first class matches. The same will be the case for the List A and T20 cricket,” it added.

As before, the QT match will be a four-day affair. The final will be a five-day match. The QT will be held from September 14 to October 8 and from October 28 to December 13. The National Under-19 tournament (both three-day and one-day) will be held from October 1 to November 12, the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy (2nd XI, three-day matches, four-day final) will be held from September 14 to October 10 and from October 28 to November 29.

The National T20 Cup (both first and second XIs will play simultaneously) from

October 13-24. The first XIs event will be held in Faisalabad and the second XIs even in Karachi. The Pakistan Cup One-Day Tournament (both first and second XIs) will be held simultaneously from March 29 to April 24, 2020.

The PCB has also decided to use Kookaburra balls across these tournaments to help cricketers prepare better for international cricket. “Since Pakistan play their home Test cricket with Kookaburra balls, having the same brand now in the first-class and non first-class tournaments will help the players prepare better for the challenges at the apex level,” the Board argued.

It is pertinent to mention here that all limited overs international cricket, including the ICC Cricket World Cup, ICC Women’s World Cup, ICC U19 Cricket World Cup and the ICC T20 World Cups are played with Kookaburra balls.

“To support domestic cricket and provide and improve the cricket environment for the professional cricketers, the PCB has taken measures to upgrade the quality of playing facilities, including pitches, outfields, player and umpire dressing rooms and media/broadcast working areas,” the Board said.

“The PCB is committed to spending over Rs2 billion on upgradation of stadia in Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Rawalpindi and Quetta,” it said. The Board also said that it would aggressively market Pakistan cricket throughout the season. “More details on the marketing and promotion plans will be shared in due course,” the Board said.

“The new structure will give importance to club cricket, provide the best cricketing environment to young talented cricketers, reward top performers, create employment opportunities for former cricketers and qualified coaches, and bridge the gap between domestic and international cricket,” the PCB said.

“The new structure has come into existence following the Government of Pakistan’s August 9 approval of the constitutional amendments, which were notified to the PCB on August 19, meaning the 16 regions have now been absorbed into the newly formed Sindh Cricket Association (Karachi, Hyderabad and Larkana), Balochistan Cricket Association (Dera Murad Jamali, Quetta), Southern Punjab Cricket Association (Multan and Bahawalpur), Central Punjab Cricket Association (Faisalabad, Sialkot and Lahore), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Cricket Association (Peshawar, FATA, Abbottabad) and Northern Cricket Association (Islamabad, Rawalpindi, AJK),”the Board said.

“The new domestic structure will be based on a three-tiered bottom up approach; providing a clear pathway for the aspiring cricketers to graduate to the top level,” the Board said.

“In the first tier, the 90 city cricket associations will be responsible for organising cluband 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,” the Board explained.

Underpinning the pathway system will be six High Performance Programmes which will provide quality cricket and lifestyle plans to equip players with the all-round skills required in the modern game.

The players’ earnings will also increase in the new structure, the PCB claimed. “As many as 32 non-PCB centrally contracted players would be awarded annual domestic contracts at each cricket association and will feature in first-class, non-first class, List A, and T20 tournaments during a season,” the Board said.

The cricket associations will also be free to select players from outside the pool of 32 contracted players on per-match payment, it was added. “Each of the domestic contracted players will receive monthly retainers of Rs50,000 and it is anticipated that a high-performing player will earn between Rs2 million and Rs2.5million per season in terms of allowances, match fees and prize money (details to be announced in due course),” the PCB said. The new structure is also expected to create employment for qualified coaches and former cricketers. Along with the administrative roles, each cricket association will have a players’ support personnel staff, comprising head coaches, batting coaches, bowling coaches, fielding coaches, trainers, physiotherapists and video analysts to look after first class, second XI, Under-19, Under-16, Under-13 teams and high performance programmes, the PCB said.

As many as three selectors will be working with a cricket association each. “We are delighted to announce that we have achieved the target of reforming our domestic structure,” PCB chairman Ehsan Mani said. “One of the key priorities of this PCB administration is to enhance the quality of cricket, which will in due course also begin to reflect in our on-field performances at the international level.

“We want to develop consistency in our performances, across all formats, at the apex level so these reforms were pertinent,” he said. “The PCB will provide assistance to the provincial associations in setting up the structure, which will include helping them in assembling a council – which will look after the affairs – and aiding them in attaining sponsorship deals,” he added.

“The PCB has worked extremely hard. But we also understand there may be a few teething issues in the first year of the new structure, but I assure all stakeholders we will address these professionally and ensure the 2020-21 is smoother,” said the chairman.

Meanwhile, the PCB CEO Wasim Khan said: “A clear pathway is being laid out for the club cricketers to graduate to the provincial level cricket. In all, approximately 450 players, coaches, physiotherapists, selectors and other support staff will be involved in domestic cricket.

“The launch of the new domestic structure perfectly aligns with the World Test Championship, which commenced with the Ashes. Pakistan's opening series is in October and we aspire to feature in the final which will be held at the end of the two-year cycle in 2021,” Wasim said.

“The PCB strongly believes in primacy of Test cricket, which is the traditional format of the game and in which we have slipped in our performances. We firmly believe this structure will not only help the PCB raise a team that can play in the 2021 final but also an opportunity to the talented and skilled cricketers to represent Pakistan in the purist format of the game,” he added.

“Our scheduling of white ball cricket will also give us every chance of being successful at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cups 2020 and 2021, and will support our preparation for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.” The Board is to announce more details about domestic structure during the next few days.