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Opening avenues

Those who have designed the new domestic cricket format claim it will provide a lot more opportunities to young players and will also enable them to earn money

Opening avenues

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has received the approval of the new domestic cricket format from Prime Minister Imran Khan. All departmental cricket teams have received letters from the PM House, which direct them to support and sponsor the region-based format.

Now it has been confirmed that the new format will be implemented in 2019-2020 season.

Well-placed sources confirmed that Imran has approved the new format and it would be implemented from the coming season starting from September.

A copy of the proposed model sent to the PM has been obtained by ‘The News on Sunday’ (TNS) from reliable sources in the PCB. There is no say of departments, which means that the PCB has finally decided to bury the departmental cricket.

It was Imran Khan’s old wish which he expressed very often. He has been consistent in his opposition to departmental teams in domestic cricket since his playing days. And when finally he gained power, which made him the patron in chief of PCB, he decided to restructure domestic cricket.

The new format will surprise many, including local and regional organisers. The PCB has allowed only six region-based teams to participate in the first class cricket: Quaid-e-Azam Trophy from November 15 to January 30. But on the other hand, there will be a couple of important events featuring 16 associations, which will allow them to groom fresh telnet, claimed a former cricketer who is a staunch supporter of region-based domestic cricket.

Two three-day, non-first class tournament have also been designed. One will have under-23 zonal cricket championship in which 48 teams will participate. There will be a total of 135 matches. The teams will be divided in eight groups. This means there will be a number of opportunities for young players to show their skills.

The sources said that there is no mention of under-19 cricket but it will continue according to the old format.

Olympian Qamar Zia, the president of PTI Sindh’s sports and cultural wing, said that those criticising the closure of departmental cricket teams should tell how many cricketers were appointed on permanent basis. “There was a time in Pakistan when sportsmen were provided jobs on permanent basis. That time has gone. Now they (departments) only appoint sportspersons on contract basis. Even the big names in international cricket, the stars, do not have regular jobs. UBL and Habib Bank have already closed their cricket teams,” he told ‘The News on Sunday’.

Qamar said that sponsorship would be brought in domestic cricket. He hoped that cricketers would earn more than they used to do in the previous system. “The game will also be more competitive. Pakistan will get quality cricketers whom we are lacking at international level. All our coaching methods have been exposed time and again,” he said.

He said that the involvement of cricket fraternity and spectators would increase and sponsorship would play an important role in bearing the expenditure of the domestic cricket. “The new format will give us competitive cricketers who will not surrender without putting up a fight,” Qamar said.

But the heads of departmental cricket teams are worried about their future. They have received the letter from the PM House. They say the new system will suffocate the entire cricket system. “It’s not just that we and the players will lose our jobs. This will also destroy the cricket at the grassroots level,” said a department’s sports head.

 

Syed Intikhab Ali

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