Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi and wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal do not figure in the latest list of PCB central contracts. Younis Khan, who was banned for disciplinary reasons following a winless tour of Australia in 2009-10 and was out of last year's list, has been awarded a Category A contract this time along with current captain Misbah-ul-Haq, allrounder Mohammad Hafeez, spinners Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman, and fast bowler Umar Gul - the only player retained in the top category from last year's list.
Afridi had retired "conditionally" from international cricket following his removal as captain after the tour of West Indies, while Kamran, who also was in Category A last year, has been ignored since the World Cup. Afridi was involved in a legal battle with the Pakistan board after he hinted at differences between him and coach Waqar Younis during the West Indies tour; these were confirmed by Waqar and team manager Intikhab Alam in their tour report. Afridi has said he will not go back on his decision as long as the present PCB regime remains in power.
Middle-order batsman Umar Akmal and opener Imran Farhat were retained in Category B. Also included in that grade werere Abdul Razzaq, demoted from grade A last year, middle-order batsmen Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali, who have been impressive finds for Pakistan in the last couple of years. Left-arm seamer Wahab Riaz, who took a five-for against India in the World Cup semi-final, also featured in grade B.
As expected, there was no place for Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Amir and Salman Butt , the three cricketers banned for their involvement in the spot-fixing controversy, while Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Yousuf and Danish Kaneria, who were not picked for the World Cup, have been ignored. Malik and Kaneria are yet to be cleared by the PCB's integrity committee. Kaneria has not played for the national team since August 2010, after the PCB tightened its anti-corruption programme following the spot-fixing controversy and Kaneria's own entanglement in a corruption case in Essex. Kaneria was cleared by a police enquiry in Essex, but is yet to be cleared by the PCB; he has petitioned against his continued non-clearance.
"As long as Malik and Kaneria are not cleared by the PCB integrity committee, a meeting of which is scheduled for August 15, they will not be considered for the contracts," Intikhab, also the PCB's director, said at a press conference in Lahore.
In Category C were seamer Tanvir Ahmed, who picked up six wickets on Test debut against South Africa, wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal, and the trio who have been picked in the squad for the tour of Zimbabwe - Yasir Shah, Sohail Khan and Rameez Raja. Aizaz Cheema, who has also been picked, was placed in the stipend category.
The contracts are for a duration of six months - July 1 to December 31 this year.