Pakistan's top cricketers are set to take further financial hits after the PCB imposed caps on their participation in T20 leagues around the world.
The PCB has formed a new NOC (No-Objection Certificate) policy that limits their centrally-contracted players to playing only two leagues per season, which may or may not include the Pakistan Super League (PSL). That effectively means an in-demand cricketer such as legspinner Shadab Khan can only play in one league other than the PSL in a year.
Already among the lowest-paid professionals in world cricket, and not allowed in the IPL, the PCB's decision will come as a big blow.
Last season, a number of contracted players featured in the world's major T20 leagues - apart from the IPL - forcing national coaches and selectors to raise concerns over their fitness and vulnerability to injuries from the workload. Those concerns came to a head in the last few months with head coach Mickey Arthur pushingfor higher fitness standards across the board.
Arthur's worries first came up during Pakistan's tour of New Zealand last winter after the players returned for national duty from lengthy lay-offs. Given that players took part in the Bangladesh Premier League, the Big Bash and the newly formed T10 league, the management has now decided on a more hands-on approach to controlling how much a player plays outside Pakistan duty.
The policy was made at a meeting last week between major stakeholders such as Mudassar Nazar, who heads the academies, chief selector Inzamam ul Haq and Haroon Rashid, director cricket operations.
"Centrally contracted players will be allowed to participate in two leagues only in a cricket season," the board said. "The non-contracted players are bound to play at least three domestic first-class matches for them to be entitled to receive the NOC. While retired players do not need any NOC from PCB, however as per ICC's rule they are bound to obtain an NOC from PCB for two years from the date of their retirement."
Given that the Pakistan domestic season starts in September and ends in March, and that the BPL, the T10 League, and the BBL all take place in that time, it leaves the Caribbean Premier League and the T20 Blast as the major tournaments top cricketers can target.
A decision was also taken at the meeting to leave this season's domestic structure broadly unchanged, bar a few tweaks in fixtures. The national one-day tournament will be held alongside the first-class tournament, each one-day game following a day's break after the first-class match.
Last season, the teams in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy were put through a strenuous schedule of seven four-day games in just 41 days.
The first-class format remains intact for the third year running, with 16 teams (eight regional and eight departments), but the selection process was tweaked last year, allowing eight players to be picked through the draft process.