Amir, Wahab, Hasan lose central contracts, Sarfaraz demoted
Pakistan Cricket Board Wednesday gave premier pace bowling trio a snub when it announced 18-player men’s central contract list for the 2020-21 season, which will come into effect from 1 July.
Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali and Wahab Riaz have lost their central contracts while former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed has been demoted to category B.
The PCB also confirmed Azhar Ali as Test and Babar Azam as ODI and T20I captains for the period during which Pakistan is scheduled to play nine Tests, six ODIs and 20 T20Is, besides the Asia Cup and the ICC T20 World Cup 2020.
This new PCB regime formed at the whim of former Pakistan cricket captain and the now Prime Minister, Imran Khan, has almost destroyed the players’ finances by squeezing maximum windows for the players whether it is central contracts or the domestic cricket. On the other hand, the Board continues to bestowed enormous benefits upon its new blue-eyed officials while leaving the players in a lurch.
Last year, the same PCB’s management had reduced the central contract lists form 33 to 19 players and this year the PCB further reduced it to 18players with three more players added to the restored emerging category.
If this PCB regime continues to work with its self-styled policies it may be feared that the pool of the players would be decreased significantly and cricket would see its demise in the country as like the national game hockey.
Naseem Shah became the youngest Test bowler in history to take a fifer and a hat-trick in consecutive Tests against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in Karachi and Rawalpindi, respectively. Iftikhar, who had the best average and strike rate in T20Is amongst the Pakistan batsmen, played two Tests, two ODIs and seven T20Is in the 2019-20 season.
Naseem’s bowling partner Shaheen Shah Afridi, who took the most Test wickets for Pakistan in the 2019-20 season, is one of the four players to get promotions. Shaheen, following his 18 Test and two T20I wickets, has moved up in Category A, while Abid Ali (174 runs in three Tests and 74 runs in an ODI), Mohammad Rizwan (212 runs and 16 dismissals in five Tests, 50 runs and two dismissals in five T20Is) and Shan Masood (396 runs in five Tests) have been awarded Category B.
Furthermore, and as part of its commitment and strategy to reward high-performing young cricketers, the PCB has created a new Emerging Players’ Category, and the initial inductees are Haider Ali and fast bowlers Haris Rauf and Mohammad Hasnain.
Haider was a standout batsman for the Pakistan Emerging and U19 sides, whereas Haris and Hasnain showed their skill, prowess and utility in limited overs cricket. In addition to the three and to further recognise players who have performed excellently in the 2019-20 season and/or are in and around the Pakistan men’s national team, the PCB are in the process of creating enhanced domestic contracts for the 2020-21 season so that they remained valued and motivated.
Imam-ul-Haq, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Yasir Shah have slipped one category each.
Chief selector and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said: “The philosophy and criteria for this merit-based central contract list was simple and straightforward: the selectors reviewed player performances in the past 12 months and then looked ahead to our team requirements in the forthcoming 12 months. I am thankful to the PCB Chairman for supporting our recommendation to give emerging player contracts to Haider, Haris and Hasnain. This is part of our forward-looking strategy and investing in the future, while also encouraging potential future national team players. I am sure this will motivate a number of youngsters in the 2020-21 domestic cricket to perform up to the expected level and earn such incentives. I want to congratulate Azhar Ali and Babar Azam for getting captaincy extensions. This is absolutely the right decision as they also require certainty and clarity on their future roles. I am sure they will now start looking to the future and start planning so that they can build sides that can perform at the expected levels. The selectors have made the tough decisions to leave out Amir, Hasan and Wahab but considering Hasan missed most of the season due to an injury and Amir and Wahab decided to focus on white-ball cricket, this was the right move. However, Amir and Wahab are senior and experienced bowlers and they remain in contention as we believe they can still contribute to the Pakistan men’s cricket team and also mentor our young battery of fast bowlers.”
Rizwan has been promoted to Category B after being a regular member of the side, while Sarfaraz has been placed in Category B as he very much features in our future plans. We have some tough cricket lined up over the next 12 months where we will potentially require Sarfaraz’s knowledge and experience.
In the forthcoming season, Pakistan is scheduled to play two T20Is in Ireland (July), three Tests and three T20Is in England (July-September), three ODIs and three T20Is in South Africa (October), three ODIs and three T20Is at home against Zimbabwe (November), two tests and three T20Is in New Zealand (December), two Tests and three T20Is at home against South Africa (January 2021) and two Tests and three T20Is in Zimbabwe (April 2021).