After months of speculation, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced on Wednesday a comprehensive domestic schedule for the season 2014-15.
The Managing Committee (MC) working under chairman Najam Sethi debated the structure for a long time with various quarters raising concerns overs the disbanding of departmental teams. But after some heated discussions and deliberation, the board has retained both departmental and regional team systems.
However, the practice of chopping and changing the system every year has been preserved and the President’s Trophy contested by departmental teams now stands abolished.
Instead, 26 teams including both regions and departments will take part in two tiers of first-class cricket — Quaid-e-Azam Trophy (QAT) Gold and Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Silver.
Departments, regions to play first-class cricket together
According to a PCB release, the first-class departmental and regional teams will compete jointly in the two-tier first-class cricket from the season 2014-15.
The top twelve teams comprise the best six departmental sides of the previous year’s ranking of the President’s Trophy, and the top six regional teams of previous year’s ranking of Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, will play in QAT Gold in the 2014-15 season.
Meanwhile, 14 teams – five departmental squads ranked seventh to 11th in the previous season’s President’s Trophy, one departmental team that won the Grade-II Patron’s Trophy 2013-14 and eight regional teams ranked seventh to 14th in last season’s Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2013-14 – will play in QAT Silver in the 2014-15 season.
A total of 69 matches will be played in the Gold edition, while the Silver one will feature 47.
Likewise, leading departmental and regional teams will compete in the 50-over Patrons Trophy One-Day Tournament in a two-tier system.
The first-tier edition has been named Patrons Cup Gold, while the second-tier system is called Patrons Cup Silver. Unlike last year, the one-day event will be played separately and not immediately after the end of a first-class match.
T20 tournament to feature 17 teams
No departmental teams will feature in the national T20 tournament; only 17 regional teams will make their appearance in the event. The PCB is also planning to hold the first edition of the Pakistan Super League T20 tournament at the end of the year.
Meanwhile, despite heavy criticism, the PCB has decided to continue the use of the economical Grays balls in first-class cricket instead of the globally-used Kookaburra ones. The Australian balls will be used in one-day and T20 competitions only.
The board has also decided to host matches in the first-half of the season in the southern region as bad light, fog and inclement-struck matches regularly hamper cricket in the northern part of the country.
Another change is the stipulation of 90-overs play in first-class cricket in contrast to last season’s mandatory 83 overs in a day’s play.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2014.
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