Pakistan national cricketers are happy as they are getting richer after Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) increased their remuneration by 25 to 30 percent and match fees by 20 percent, according to their categories.
Last week PCB announced new central contracts for 33 players for the 2018-19 season. A player in Category A will earn around Rs875,000 per month; those in Categories B, C, D and E will get roughly Rs575,000, Rs390,000, Rs195,000 and Rs100,000, respectively.
Most cricketers are pleased with their new contracts.
Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed with two former captains Azhar Ali and Shoaib Malik are in the Category A.
Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Muhammad Amir and Yasir Shah are also in the top category. Fakhar’s performance has been outstanding since Champions Trophy last year. In 12 One-day Internationals, he has scored 813 runs, averaging 76.07, including one double hundred, against Zimbabwe last month. In 14 Twenty20 matches, he has scored 620, averaging.
Babar Azam represented Pakistan in all three formats during the period. He scored 152, 518 and 489 runs in four Tests, 18 ODIs and 12 T20Is, respectively.
Veteran batsman Muhammad Hafeez is not happy with his demotion to B category. Hafeez has chosen not to sign the contract. He has said if PCB didn’t give him respect and restore his A category he would leave cricket.
But the PCB seems not interested in revising the contract offered to Hafeez. The PCB is sticking to its decision. Hafeez has played 50 Tests and 283 ODIs. He played his last Test in August 2016 against England in which he scored 0 and 2.
In his last ODI, against New Zealand in January this year, he lost his wicket for just six runs.
His last Twenty20 International was against Australia in Harare in which he lost his wicket in the first over of the match without opening his account.
During the tour of Zimbabwe last month, he was part of the squad, but did not play a single match. The all-rounder was pretty upset with the fact that the team management ignored him for the ODI series after he declined the offer to play in the Global T20 League in Canada for Rs15 million.
The presence of Fakhar, Imam and Babar leave no room for Hafeez in any format of the game. The openers Imam and Fakhar both score two centuries in four games against Zimbabwe. Fakhar became the first Pakistani to score a double century.
According to some reports, coach Mickey Arthur and other officials have decided to favour young players to prepare for the World Cup next year. Arthur is reportedly not keen on including Hafeez in the world cup squad.
The 37-year-old Hafeez made his Test debut against Bangladesh in August 2003.
Despite multiple skills, Hafeez failed to cement his place in his first seven years in international cricket, primarily due to his inability to convert his starts into substantial scores. He scored plenty of pretty 30s and 40s.
Hafeez was banned as a bowler thrice: in November 2014, July 2015 and October 2017. But every time he managed to come back after remedial work on his action.
After change in bowling action, it’s not easy for a bowler to bowl with the same authority. Former off-spinner Saeed Ajmal is a prime example.
Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur last month said that “the doors are not closed for Hafeez at all. If Hafeez is bowling, he becomes a good option for us. If he doesn´t bowl, it becomes a problem.”
Questions have been asked about the low categories given to players like Imam and Asif Ali while Mohammad Amir and Yasir Shah have been placed in category A despite their ordinary performances.
Leg-spinner Yasir played his last Test in October 2017 against Sri Lanka in Dubai. He hasn’t played Twenty20 for Pakistan since 2011.
Also, since November 2015, Yasir has played only seven ODIs, in which he took only three wickets, conceding 316.
Thus, awarding Yasir Category A has rightly raised eyebrows. Fakhar, Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf have been given Category B despite their consistent performances.