Pakistan's domestic cricketers can hope for better pay next season after the PCB announced a record investment of PKR 1.95 billion into domestic cricket.

After the deep structural changes to the domestic game last season, which saw a steep fall in the earnings of most domestic cricketers a new grade-based system of monthly retainers and match fees has been introduced. There will now be five categories, starting with an A+ in which ten elite performers (out of 192 players in all) from the previous season will be placed: they will receive a monthly retainer or PKR 150,000.

Thirty eight players will be in category A (PKR 85,000), 48 players will fall in category B (PKR 75,000) 72 players will make up category C (PKR 65,000) and 24 will be in category D (PKR 40,000). Which players fit into which category will likely be known by the end of next month.

Although match fees have been reduced, this change does represent an enhancement for some players. Last season, the PCB abolished department cricket and restructured the entire system, with only six provincial teams playing every format. Few players were happy with the change since it left a vast number of them on the outer, as the board decided to push for quality rather than quantity.

Last season, every player was paid a flat retainer of PKR 50,000 a month, which for many was a considerable drop in earnings from previous seasons where a number of players were employed - and paid salaries - by departments. In the case of some, the change had represented a reduction of PKR 600,000 or more.

The new contracts will be offered to all players next month and will come into effect from August 1.

"The PCB had repeatedly spoken about improving domestic retainers year-on-year which we are committed to doing and have backed up this year," Wasim Khan, PCB CEO, said in a statement. "We very much see this as the start. Overall, we have increased our investment by 46 percent in our domestic contract retainers, as compared to last year. We have also created a category-based retainer system that will better reward and incentivise the high-performing cricketers.

"The PCB is optimistic this model will further enhance competitiveness amongst the players, which, in turn, will contribute in the overall uplifting of our domestic cricket. We are likely to have all the six Cricket Association sides in place by mid-August but will continue to keep an eye on the Covid-19 situation. We will only start our 2020-21 season when the Covid-19 curve of cases starts going in the downward direction and we have the necessary permissions and SOPs in place to ensure health and safety of all concerned."

Nadeem Khan, a director at the High Performance Centre, will be overseeing domestic cricket in addition to age-group programmes, which will be given a monetary boost as well thanks to the new financial model.

The 2020-21 season set to start in August, assuming the threat of Covid-19 reduces by then. There have been more over 197,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 4000 deaths in Pakistan, with cases expected to peak towards the end of July and early August according to prime minister Imran Khan. Cricket, alongside other sports in the country, has been on hold since March 16, when most players were last active in the yet-to-be completed Pakistan Super League.