Pakistan news July 23, 2014

PCB revamps first-class structure again


After months of deliberation, the PCB has once again overhauled its domestic cricket structure, combining the department and regional teams in one first-class tournament. Twenty-six teams - 12 departments and 14 regions - will now compete in the premier first-class competition - the Quaid-e-Azam (QEA) Trophy, but in two divisions. The 2014-15 season begins with the one-dayers and the first-class tournament runs between October 12 and January 22.

Previously, the regions and departments played first-class cricket in separate tournaments - the QEA Trophy and the President's Trophy. That format was in place for two years from 2012, but has now been done away with by the interim PCB administration under chairman Najam Sethi.

Pakistan's domestic cricket structure has been unstable over the last decade, with revamps occurring almost every two years. To end the inconsistency, the new system has been announced for a five-year period, with a review to be conducted after three years.

The latest restructuring removed the President's Trophy, which was introduced in 2012 and contested by service departments. The revamp brought back a two-tier system with the 12 top sides - six departments from the previous President's Trophy and six regions from the QEA Trophy - competing in QEA Gold. Five departments that finished between seventh and 11th in the 2013-14 President's Trophy, one other department (winner of Grade-II Patron's Trophy) and the bottom eight regional sides in the 2013-14 QEA Trophy (14 sides in all) will play in QEA Silver.

An incentive system has also been introduced with the bottom-placed department and region from QEA Gold facing relegation to Silver, and the top department and region from Silver getting promoted to Gold. The department and region that finishes bottom of QEA Silver will be demoted to grade-two level.

"Our domestic structure has never been consistent," Haroon Rasheed, PCB's director of game development, said in Lahore. "We are aware that the structure had duplications, loopholes and things going in two different directions. We were not getting quality from the previous structure. So there was a definite need for a revamp and we are hoping to get the result with the change.

"We have researched that last year, departments have not really invested in new players and no player from the 320 regional players managed to win a place for the national team. So there was a concern because the PCB has been investing huge amounts of money in domestic cricket but the output isn't really what we are expecting. So we have decided to merge both departments and regions to let them play each other. The new structure will have a new spirit and the format is a competitive one."

The ball used in domestic cricket has also been the subject of debate in Pakistan over the last five years. The imported Kookaburra was used in domestic competitions between 2000 and 2007, until the PCB, under Ijaz Butt, encouraged the use of locally manufactured balls. In 2012, the Kookaburra was reintroduced but the PCB has now decided to use the Grays of Cambridge - a local manufacturer engaged with PCB since 1973 - in first-class cricket. White Kookaburra balls, however, will be used for one-day and T20 matches.

The first-class tournament has been spread over four months and the PCB has decided to keep most of the matches in the south of Pakistan to avoid bad weather in the north during the winter. Last year, the PCB was forced to reschedule most of the matches from cities like Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Faisalabad.

"All domestic matches during the period from December 1, 2014 to January 25, 2015 will be scheduled in the south to avoid the extreme cold and foggy weather in the north, due to which a number of matches could not be completed in the last cricket season," Rasheed said.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on July 27, 2014, 11:54 GMT

    If Pakistan wants to develop good players in test cricket they needs only few teams that to city or provincial base. Teams shoud be Islambad, Karachi, Multan, Sialkot, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Faizalabad, Quetta and Abottabad. This will help to get good players as the competition will be competetive.

  • Android on July 26, 2014, 0:43 GMT

    Hope for the will bring improvement in the team as well and also hope in domestic cricket

  • Dummy4 on July 24, 2014, 13:42 GMT

    This step deserves to be applauded. Seems like a very good system. Hope it is implemented properly.

  • Dummy4 on July 24, 2014, 6:28 GMT

    those who mourn about this development surely are motivated by sethi's political attachment tbh this is perfect system regional teams usually have raw talent on which Pakistan cricket relies heavily by brining regional teams mainstream will ve amazing and in football same thing happens weak team are promoted and they improve and build with time and who know by 4,5 years our regional teams become very strong

  • Almas on July 24, 2014, 2:29 GMT

    Some good things in it. Worth a try. A 3 to 5 years plan will bring in stability.

  • Dummy4 on July 23, 2014, 21:41 GMT

    very poor systemm with that the departments will become strongers but the region side will b weaker teams ........

  • Dummy4 on July 23, 2014, 19:12 GMT

    PSL has also been announced but its subject to sponsors and franchises being sold/bid on time . It will happen in january

  • Android on July 23, 2014, 18:48 GMT

    I think the revamp is good, but one more thing to be changed in the system is the ball in the first class used should be of international level.

  • Anas on July 23, 2014, 18:28 GMT

    In QEA Gold, regional teams are fine, not good as departmental teams. But in QEA Silver, it is really disappointing that teams like PIA, HBL & KRL will be playing very low quality cricket. Imagine Younis Khan, Umar Gul, Abdur Rehman, Ahmed Shehzad, Asad Shafiq (HBL), Sarfraz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik, Faisal Iqbal, Aizaz Cheema, Anwar Ali (PIA) & Yasir Arafat, Mohammad Irfan, Rahat Ai, Yasir Ali, Sadaf Hussain (KRL) playing against bunch of no-ones. Every player will be preferring to play for their departments (to which they are contracted). This season will be "AGAIN" all about departmental teams. Our domestic structure is so poor that "AGAIN" large number of 4-grade players will be playing first-class for regional teams. PCB "AGAIN" didn't realized that "There should be Quality not Quantity".

  • Anas on July 23, 2014, 18:10 GMT

    I don't think there is going to be much improvement. Standard of Regional teams will have to improve if they have to even draw a match against Departmental teams. Regional team players will get good experience to play against strong players of Departments. There are only two positives: (1) Pentangular Tournament, where there will be only 5 teams and only top performers will be playing it. (2) How good or bad the structure is, it is being implemented for 5 years, which will add consistency.

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