LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Wednesday handed more responsibility to prolific batsman and T20 skipper Babar Azam by naming him as the new ODI captain in place of Sarfraz Ahmed while also announcing the central contracts for 18 Pakistan players for the year 2020-2021.
Young fast bowler Naseem Shah and all-rounder Iftikhar Ahmed featured in that list of 18 players but the marked omissions were three pacers Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali who were completely left out According to the information gathered, the process to decide the amount of monthly stipends for the players is still in progress. The PCB has said that there might be some increase in the salaries but there is no move under consideration to cut down the amount due to the prevailing situation created by Covid-19.
Sarfraz, who was earlier removed from the Test and T20 format has lost the ODIs captaincy as well. However, contrary to the rumours that he will be left out of the list altogether or may be relegated to C category, he still features in the B category of the central contracts. He previously featured in the ‘A’ category.
Announcing the decisions, head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq said the PCB was giving the central contracts much before the due date (July 1), to give a clarity to the players and it also reflected how much it cared for the cricketers, despite the Covid-19 tragedy.
Misbah said: “The philosophy and criteria for this merit-based central contract list is simple and straightforward: the selectors reviewed player performances in the past 12 months and then looked ahead to our team requirements in the forthcoming 12 months.
“I am thankful to the PCB chairman for supporting our recommendation to give the contracts to emerging players such as Haider, Haris and Hasnain. This is part of our forward-looking strategy and investing in the future, while also encouraging the future national team players who have tremendous potential. I am sure this will motivate a number of youngsters in the 2020-21 domestic cricket to perform up to the expected level and earn such incentives.”
Meanwhile, Babar was the only player who retained the A category while Sarfaraz and Yasir Shah both went down to B and Azhar Ali and Shaheen are promoted from B to A.
In the B category, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Abbas and Shadab Khan retained their places while Imam-ul-Haq was demoted to C category. Abid Ali and Mohammad Rizwan and Shan Masood were promoted from C to B category.
Naseem and Iftikhar are included in C where Fakhar Zaman, Imad Wasim, Imam, Usman Shinwari are also there.
Pakistan are scheduled to play nine Tests, six ODIs and 20 T20Is plus the Asia Cup and ICC T20 World Cup 2020 over the next 12-month period. The break-up is as under: two T20Is in Ireland (July), three Tests and three T20Is in England (July-September), three ODIs and three T20Is in South Africa (October), three ODIs and three T20Is at home against Zimbabwe (November), two tests and three T20Is in New Zealand (December), two Tests and three T20Is at home against South Africa (January 2021) and two Tests and three T20Is in Zimbabwe (April 2021). PCB women’s central contract list for 2020-21 will be announced in due course.