Pakistan news February 17, 2010

Pakistan team contracts on hold due to inquiry

Cricinfo staff
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The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will not award annual central contracts to its players until the inquiry report into the team's dismal performance on their tour of Australia is released. A six-man evaluation committee was set up by the board after Pakistan were thrashed 3-0 in the Test series, 5-0 in the ODIs and beaten in the only Twenty20 match; the report is expected later this month.

"We will announce the central contracts only after the submission of the inquiry report so that there is no conflict between the two," Wasim Bari, PCB's chief operating officer, told AFP.

Incidentally, Bari heads both the evaluation and the three-man central contract committees. The evaluation committee met twice last week and discussed reports from team manager Abdul Raqeeb and coach Intikhab Alam.

Mohammad Yousuf, Younus Khan, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal and Salman Butt were among the players who were given an audience. Reports were also heard from assistant coach Aaqib Javed and team physio Faisal Hayat.

Bari informed the committee would meet again after the team returns from Dubai, where Pakistan will play two Twenty20 matches against England on February 19 and 20. "Our next meeting will be held after the team returns next week and we are due to submit a final report before February 28," he said.

Last year, annual contracts were awarded to 27 players - nine in the top category A, four in category B and 14 in category C. However, fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar is likely to be overlooked this time around. He holds an A category contract and last featured in a Twenty20 international in May 2009 against Australia in Dubai.

Shoaib had been demoted to a special retainership category for players whose form and fitness were in doubt. He refused to take it and instead responded angrily, sparking a sequence which eventually led him to be banned and fined by the board. He missed the bulk of Pakistan's international commitments through injury or the ban.

Fellow paceman Mohammad Asif, who was ignored last year due to a ban imposed for a failed drug test in the IPL, is expected to get a central contract.