Lahore-The return of departmental cricket is on the cards after Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief executive Wasim Khan hinted that the country’s cricket governing body has chalked out a plan for the 2020-21 season.
In a conversation with a leading website, Wasim said here on Saturday the decision was taken to make sure that the players stayed on the departments’ payroll.
“We have actually created a window for a tournament for departments in the upcoming 2020-21 season,” Wasim said. “When we spoke to the players and departments about how we could soften the blow, one of the things that came back quite strongly was if we could create a small window for a department tournament as it would give the departments an opportunity to keep a lot of the players on their books.
“So, while scheduling the 2020-21 season, we have factored that in. The debate with the departments surround what they would like to play, I suspect it will be sort of a 50-over or a T20 competition. I am hoping that in the next six to eight weeks we will be able to finalise the details.”
The PCB restructured domestic cricket in August last year which tossed department cricket and reduced the number of first-class teams from 32 to six. The six teams are based on six cricket associations, which the board wants to run cricket in their jurisdictions, and the PCB is currently seeking sponsorship for the newly formed cricket entities.
The board, however, has since been criticised for running cricketers out of jobs due to the reduction in the number of teams although none of the leading departments have recently released their cricketers. Leading departments such as Allied Bank, United Bank, Pakistan National Shipping Corporation etc had pulled the shutters on their cricket teams years before the new structure was introduced.
Currently, 188 domestic cricketers are on the board’s payroll as they have been extended year-long contracts. The board anticipates that the creation of the six cricket associations will lead to structured cricket – from city level to school level – and will create opportunities for not only the current cricketers but also for those who are in the twilight of their careers and have retired from the game.
“We want to utilise the skills of our players,” Wasim said. “The six cricket associations will be running club, school and city cricket associations and for that we will need coaches and officials. We will need people at every level.
“I think there’s a bit of misconception about what players were actually earning. It was only top cricketers who were drawing decent salaries. The other players were given contracts for three months, six months or a season.
“United Bank Limited and Habib Bank Limited closed their cricket departments even before the restructuring and it had nothing to do with the PCB, so in terms of the trend and the finances that a lot of these departments have there’s only one or two who actively pay to cricketers.”
“We are aiming to bring sponsors in before the start of the season in October so that it can cover at least 50 per cent of the costs.
About 220 million rupees per cricket association that includes running First XI cricket, three-day cricket, four-day cricket and everything from hotels to everything. “We are in advanced talks with various corporations and departments to bring them on board.”