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News

Mohammad Abbas, Asad Shafiq, Imad Wasim, Haider Ali and Naseem Shah lose their Pakistan contracts

Hasan Ali, left out of last year's list, rejoins it in the highest-earning Category A

Umar Farooq
Umar Farooq
02-Jul-2021
Pakistan captain Babar Azam congratulates Hasan Ali on his ten-for match haul, Pakistan vs South Africa, 2nd Test, Rawalpindi, 5th day, February 8, 2021

Hasan Ali and Pakistan captain Babar Azam are among the four players in the highest-earning Category A  •  AFP via Getty Images

Senior players Mohammad Abbas, Asad Shafiq and Imad Wasim, and youngsters Haider Ali and Naseem Shah are among the players missing from the Pakistan men's contracts list for 2021-22.
Fast bowler Hasan Ali, who made a strong comeback to the national team recently, has undergone a swift change in status. After having been left out last year, he rejoins the contracts list in Category A alongside Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan and Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Faheem Ashraf (Category B), Mohammad Nawaz, Nauman Ali (both Category C), Usman Qadir, Imran Butt and Shahnawaz Dahani (all Emerging Category) have also earned new contracts this year, while Shan Masood, Usman Shinwari and Iftikhar Ahmed have lost theirs. Haris Sohail, who recently made a comeback to Pakistan's white-ball teams, lost his conrtact as well.
In February, Rizwan had earned a promotion from Category B to A, while Fawad Alam was inducted into Category C. Alam has now earned another promotion to Category B.
Senior top-order batter Azhar Ali, meanwhile, has been demoted from Category A to Category B. He might consider himself unlucky given that he averages 50.76 in nine Tests since Pakistan's tour of England last year.
In all, 20 players have been contracted for 2021-22, down from 21 last year.
Former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed has managed to retain his contract, though he has dropped down from Category B to C. He was originally dropped from the Pakistan side in 2019, across all formats, but he has been travelling with the squad of late, due to the requirement of larger touring parties in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, deputising for Rizwan who is the first-choice wicketkeeper. Sarfaraz has played just one ODI and two T20Is since the start of 2020.
Naseem, who is 18 years old, and Haider, who is 20, had been considered among Pakistan's strongest future prospects before they were axed from the contracts list. Haider made two half-centuries in his first three T20I innings but has regressed since then, his current average in the format a modest 19.69 after 15 matches. More recently, he was suspended from the PSL final for breaching Covid-19 protocols.
Naseem made a strong start to his international career too, becoming the youngest bowler to take a Test hat-trick and the youngest fast bowler to pick up a five-wicket haul in the format. He won an Emerging contract last year but his career has slumped of late, with fitness concerns and a subsequent loss of form. He was dropped for a large part of the year before being recalled to Pakistan's squad for the Test series in the West Indies next month.
"In the new list, we have seen eight new players emerge who have now gained central contracts," Wasim Khan, the PCB CEO, said in a statement. "Due to the competitive nature of the central contract system nine players who had contracts in 2020-21 have sadly missed out on this occasion. The door remains firmly open for these players and they will continue to remain in the plans of the selectors."
Khan further added: "Emerging Category recognises and rewards the up and coming talent. We have seen the emergence of Haris Rauf and Mohammad Hasnain move from an Emerging Category to Category C, and the likes of Imran Butt, Shahnawaz Dahani and Usman Qadir breaking into the Emerging Category. The Emerging Category remains a platform for young players to break into the central contract system."
The annual contract cycle runs from July 1 to June 30. The PCB has also increased the monthly retainer fee for all three categories by 25%. Players in B and C categories have received an additional raise in their match fees across all three formats. Players in Category B will get a 15% increase in Test match fees, 20% increase in ODI fees, and a 25% increase in T20I fees, while Category C players are getting a 34% increase in Test match fees, 50% increase in ODI fees, 67 per cent increase in T20I fees.
This effectively means all players will receive the same match fees regardless of their contract category.
"The equalisation of match fees means that all players who walk out together to represent Pakistan will receive the same match fees irrespective of which category they are in, or whether they have a central contract or not," Khan said. "Despite the challenging economic climate, we as the Pakistan Cricket Board believe that it is important to continue to show advancement in the value of central contracts. In the last two years, we have seen significant progress in central contract payments and we will remain committed to the principle of improving the value of contracts year-on-year."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent