PCB proposed domestic revamp will end department cricket
The Pakistan Cricket Board is developing an extensive plan to restructure domestic cricket that will see the end of department teams, who will be invited to participate in the functioning of regional teams. The proposal, generated by Haroon Rashid, the board's director of game development, is yet to be made public though it has been circulated among the PCB top brass.
The revamp is a step forward in allowing regional cricket to function independently and to make regional cricket self-sustaining. The PCB currently funnels over Rs 30 crore every calendar year to keep it alive.
Players are in line for a 100% hike in salary and funding of domestic cricket will gain three sources - the departments, sponsors and PCB. The plan's premise is that limiting the quantity of teams will heighten the quality of domestic cricket and allow regions to focus more on the players and build a viable talent pool.
The proposal - a copy is with ESPNcricinfo - reveals a new administration comprising five members: the regional president, a representative from the department, treasurer, marketing officer and one member from the PCB. Departments whose average annual budget is Rs 30 million are meant to inject the money in regional setup. And the PCB will offer monetary assistance on the basis of the region's performance.
The changes are yet to be presented to the stakeholders and are currently being evaluated by the constitution committee. It requires unequivocal support from the departments, but ESPNcricinfo understands they are not in favour of the proposal and would rather work independent of running regional cricket.
"We have our unique culture within our country and we can't just deny it," one of the department heads told ESPNcricinfo. "There is always room for improvement but this is not a solution as every corporate department has its own sports policy and it can't be dictated by the PCB. The relationship between departments and regions had never been comfortable as there are contrasting schools of thought among both the stakeholders.
"Sports departments were initiated to support the individual players and not the sports body. The plan has no feasibility. None of the regional or department representations were consulted."
Pakistan was recognised as the second-largest cricket-playing country last year with as many as 537 grade one cricketers in their first-class tournaments. That count will decrease to 180 according to the new structure. The move is aimed at weeding out cricketers with limited skills making teams on the basis of recommendations.
Forty percent of domestic players from last year were under 25. The remaining were over 30, including 28 players who were over 35. Despite the vast resources, Pakistan failed to identify a single promising prospect last season and has given Rashid reason to push his suggestions.
The structure of domestic cricket in Pakistan has been highly fluid, with revamps occurring every two years in the past decade. The format of the first-class tournament was changed as recently as Zaka Ashraf's regime. Unlike this proposal, the previous one was centered on separating the regions and departments to play their own tournaments. The Quad-e-Azam trophy, the country's premier first-class tournament, was limited to 14 regional teams with the top eight participating in in the main draw and the rest competing in a plate league. Regions could recruit five players from departments and four of whom can be part of the playing XI.
In the President's Trophy, as many as 11 departmental teams played a round-robin league phase, with the top two teams making the final. The departmental teams are: Pakistan International Airlines, Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited, National Bank of Pakistan, Habib Bank Limited, Khan Research Laboratories, Sui National Gas Pipelines Limited, Water and Power Development Authority, State Bank of Pakistan, United Bank Limited, Port Qasim Authority and Pakistan Television.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson