Pakistan board revamps domestic cricket
The PCB has overhauled the domestic system by separating the regional and department sides, the cricket committee headed by Javed Miandad announced on Thursday at the Gaddafi Stadium. The 2012-13 Pakistan domestic season will begin with the President's Trophy Grade 1 between October 3 and December 7 which will be contested by corporate sides.
The structure of domestic cricket in Pakistan has seen several changes over the years, with revamps almost every two years in the past decade. The format of the first-class tournament has now been changed with regions and departments playing separately though regions can recruit five players from departments of whom four can be part of the playing XI.
The re-structuring mainly centered on the Quaid-e-Azam trophy, the country's premier first-class tournament. Instead of having both regional sides and department sides, it will now have 14 regional teams, including a new one - Bahawalpur. These will be divided in two groups - the top eight will be in a super-eight group while the remaining six teams will play a plate-league. The two top teams from super eights will play the final.
Either way, each team will at least play nine matches.
In the President's Trophy, ten departmental teams will play a round-robin league phase, with the top two teams making the final. The teams are: PIA, ZTBL, NBP, HBL KRL, SNGPL, WAPDA, SBP, UBL and PQA, who qualified for first-class cricket earlier this year.
"The idea is to separate the regions from departments to create competitiveness among teams with equal strength," Miandad, PCB director general, told a press conference. "Regions and departments have a huge difference in their strength and both weren't matching the competition level so it was necessary to let regions play among those who are of their aptitude."
Miandad said the emphasis was on producing good quality and competitive players from regions. "Cricket has always been in a transition process and things have been changing for the betterment of the game.
"The change will provide a culture of more competition rather than having dull and one-sided games. Each team, either department or regions, will play an equal number of matches in their respective event but for regions the revamped format will bring in more competition as teams will have an equal chance of making it to the top two of their respective groups."
The committee also said that the board approved having random dope tests in the upcoming season. The anti-corruption unit will strictly monitor matches while the preparation of pitches will also be supervised.
"Another important decision was made to take dope tests during the season and that would be random while matches will be supervised by the anti-corruption unit confidentially. Also, the emphasis will also be on making quality pitches, ensuring that the ball does not start spinning on day one."
Apart from the two first-class tournaments, regions and departments will play a spate of domestic one-day tournament between March and April. The window for the national Twenty20 cricket tournament is yet to be finalised. However ESPNcricinfo understands that the regular 13 (now 14) regional team national Twenty20 will be reorganised as a premier T20 tournament.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent