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News

PCB announce year-long calendar for women's cricket, revive U-19 domestic tournament

Pakistan are set to host SL, tour Australia, and play Ireland home and away as well as feature in the Commonwealth and Asian Games

Umar Farooq
Umar Farooq
28-Mar-2022
The Pakistan team gets together to celebrate a wicket, Australia vs Pakistan, Women's World Cup 2022, Mount Maunganui, March 8, 2022

AFP/Getty Images

The PCB has chalked out a year-long calendar for women's cricket, comprising extensive international and domestic cricket including home series against Sri Lanka and Ireland and Pakistan's participation in the Commonwealth and Asian Games this year. The board has also revived its Under-19 tournament after eight-and-a-half years.
The Women's PSL is not part of this year's calendar, though ESPNcricinfo understands the PCB is working out the feasibility of the tournament and, under chairman Ramiz Raja, has ambitions of organising the event in March 2023.
The series against Sri Lanka, which was postponed last year following a change of leadership in the PCB, is now scheduled to be played from May 18 to June 7, with the series falling under the ICC Women's Championship cycle.
Following this, Pakistan are set to tour Ireland in July for a triangular series that also includes Australia as the third team. This will be immediately followed by the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in July-August.
In September, Pakistan are due to travel to Hangzhou, China, for the 2022 Asian Games, before returning home for a three-ODI, three-T20I series against Ireland in October-November. The year is then set to end with the Women's T20 Asia Cup, which is due to take place in December, though further details are still awaited.
The Women's T20 World Cup is set to be played in South Africa in February 2023, and Pakistan's preparations for the event will conclude with a tour of Australia from January 4 to Feb 1, comprising three ODIs and three T20Is.
Under-19 domestic tournament to serve as talent pathway
The year-long calendar - the first one the PCB has announced for women's cricket - includes a blueprint for the domestic circuit as well.
The national youth-level tournament was disbanded in 2013 due to a policy shift and a change of leadership in the PCB. Before that, there had been a national Under-17 event that took place from 2004 to 2008, which was replaced by a regional Under-19 tournament that was a regular event from 2009 to 2013. A Pakistan A team was formed thereafter, comprising players from the Under-19 circuit and those on the fringes of the senior national side.
The pathway to the national team, however, had always been vague, with no solid link between the grassroots and the top 30-35 women players in the country. The investment in women's cricket had narrowed down to two major tournaments, with three teams playing the National T20 and ODI Challenge Cups.
Seeking to expand the talent pool in women's cricket, the PCB has announced a new T20 tournament featuring six provincial Under-19 teams, which will take place in August 2022. The best players from this level could go on to feature in the senior domestic season.
The senior season will begin with a two-phase T20 tournament in September-October. The first phase is a four-team event featuring the best players from the six provincial associations; the top performers from this phase will play alongside the best international players in the second phase of the championship, a three-team tournament.
The women's domestic season will conclude in April-May 2023 with a 50-overs tournament featuring four teams playing each other in a double-round-robin format.
Pakistan exited the ongoing ODI World Cup campaign at the league stage, but managed to break their 18-match losing streak in the tournament. However, they lost six out of seven games to finish bottom of the table, their only win an upset of West Indies in a rain-hit contest. The last team Pakistan had beaten in a World Cup was also West Indies, back in 2009.
"The past few weeks have brought to light the gulf between our side and the leading international teams," Tania Mallick, the PCB's head of women's cricket, said. "To develop and strengthen our national side, it is imperative to have a strong and competitive domestic structure and provide more opportunities to the national side to play in challenging conditions so we continue to gauge where we stand.
"We have put in a lot of thinking before penning down our upcoming season. I am grateful to all six Cricket Associations who have jumped on board and expressed their desire and willingness to develop women's cricket at age group and senior rungs in their jurisdictions. Their help and support will unearth talent from all parts of the country and, with a strong system in place, I am sure we will be able to produce players who are capable of performing according to the contemporary demands and needs."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent