KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) released the much-awaited list of central contracts – delayed by almost six months – and did not fail to surprise players and followers.
Following the 25% hike in salaries and a 10% increase in match-fees, former captains Shahid Afridi (Category A) and Shoaib Malik (Category B) made their comeback in the list as well as surprise package Faisal Iqbal (Category C) who was handed a recall to the Test squad following his good show in domestic cricket.
Afridi’s contract was suspended after he fell out with the former PCB chairman Ijaz Butt, who replaced him as one-day captain in May last year. After he was sacked, the 32-year-old announced his retirement from international cricket, which prompted the PCB to suspend his contract. Afridi returned to international cricket after Butt was replaced by Zaka Ashraf as PCB chairman in October last year.
Meanwhile, Umar Akmal, who was left out of the Test squad to face Sri Lanka, was elevated from Category B while the recalled Mohammad Sami, who features in all three formats for the series starting on June 1, failed to land a contract. Injured opener, Nasir Jamshed who made his national comeback in the Asia Cup, also got his hands on a Category C contract. He will, however, miss the upcoming series.
All-rounder Abdul Razzaq was also left out of the list.
In addition to the 21 contracted players, the PCB has also named 21 players to get a stipend but Tabish Khan, with 86 wickets in the season, failed to feature in it.
“We have also given stipends to those players who have distinguished themselves with consistent performances in the domestic circuit with monthly stipends as an encouragement for them,” said a PCB official.
Contracts were prepared by Ilyas
Meanwhile, according to a senior PCB official, the list was prepared by former chief selector Mohammad Ilyas with the current selection committee having very little say prior to the release.
According to the official, PCB’s Director of International Cricket Affairs Intikhab Alam, Director of Domestic Cricket Affairs Zakir Khan and Chief Operating Officer Subhan Ahmed were convinced with the names given to them by Ilyas and did not want to alter the list.
“The central contract list was prepared by Ilyas almost six weeks ago,” the official told The Express Tribune.
“Iqbal Qasim [chief selector] was called by the PCB to have a look at the list and give his opinion. He advised the board to increase the number of players in the stipend category.”
The official was also surprised at the snub handed out to fast-bowler Sami despite his call-up to the national squad.
“Sami deserved to be in the list because he has been selected for all three formats. This move will dent his confidence ahead of his comeback. The selection committee showed confidence in the player while Dav Whatmore was impressed with him as well.”
He also revealed that Junaid Khan’s elevation from Category C to a Category B contract, despite his recent injuries, came at the insistence of Zakir.
Stipend handed to banned Bismillah
The PCB, in a major blooper, named the banned Bismillah Khan in the stipend category as he has been told to sit out for a year after a clash in the Patron’s Trophy Grade-II match against Sayid Paper Mills in April.
Bismillah was representing KESC when he got into a physical fight with Immad Ali at Jinnah Stadium in Gunjrawala which led to the year-long ban on both players. However, the PCB’s released lists confirms the haphazard state of affairs at the Gaddafi Stadium.
A PCB official added that Bismillah’s inclusion confirms the fact that the contract list was formed in Ilyas’ tenure.
“The player was free to play when Ilyas was the chief selector,” the official told The Express Tribune. “It’s a huge blunder on the PCB’s part as they forget to omit his name which will further lead people to question the state of affairs at the PCB.”
Sohail Tanvir, Khalid Latif, Sharjeel Khan, Shakeel Ansar, Haris Sohail, Raza Hasan, Ahmed Shahzad, Usman Salahuddin, Ayub Dogar, Imran Khan, Bilawal Bhatti, Awais Zia, Shahzaib Hasan, Muhammad Khalil, Anwar Ali, Afaq Rahim, Bismillah Khan, Babar Azam, Sami Aslam, Ziaul Haq, Usman Qadir
Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2012.
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