Pakistan domestic players ask for regional contracts
Pakistan's domestic players who are currently representing city cricket associations in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy have asked the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to resume the regional central contracts system, in order to ensure their livelihood through the off season.
This year's QEA Trophy features 22 teams - 9 departmental and 13 regional - divided into two leagues. During former PCB chairman Nasim Ahsraf's reign, players in the regional sides were given central contracts, a practice that has been done away with in recent years, along with a reduction in the match fees.
"The top players from the associations leave their regional sides in order to play for departments so how can you expect the regions to maintain their level of performances every year?" asked a president of one of the leading associations. "The standard of associations can only be gauged if there are different leagues for associations and departments. You cannot expect a region to defeat departmental sides in every match. There is a big difference of quality."
The earlier contracts system had three categories, with the top level getting Rs 20,000 ($ 233) per month, and the next grades earning Rs 15,000 and Rs 10,000 respectively. The monetary motivation, according to Karachi Blues player Tabish Nawab, encouraged players to pursue cricket in Pakistan instead of looking for more lucrative options abroad.
"There has been a trend in Pakistan that most of our cricketers aim to play just five matches anyhow, in order to be eligible to play in Britain," Nawab told the News. "Subconsciously, they neglect the main priority of performing well to represent the country. The feeling of nationalism dies once money becomes the first priority.
"While the players are abroad they have to do job five days a week, and the remaining two days they have to play for their respective clubs. Thus their fitness level does not remain the same and players get injured. Cricket has become a profession and the board needs to understand that there is a dire need to invest in the game for domestic players as well. In today's world money has become a necessity. In such lowly pay structure, you cannot expect that a player can have top quality cricket gear, a healthy diet to maintain his fitness at the same time. We need to end the financial uncertainty surrounding our players so that they only think about cricket which will eventually help Pakistan."