Pak domestic cricket set for overhaul

PCB is considering ending the decades old structure of commercial departments and banks participating in domestic cricket.

Pak domestic cricket set for overhaul

Karachi: The Pakistan Cricket Board is seriously considering ending the decades old structure of commercial departments and banks participating in its domestic cricket competition.

PCB officials confirmed that serious consideration was being given to relegating departments and banks to only playing the non-first class grade-two competitions in domestic cricket.

"Yes. Such a proposal is under consideration because there is a strong argument that new talent is not emerging in Pakistan because instead of regional and grassroots cricket, departmental cricket has dominated the domestic structure in the last few decades," one official said.

Former captain Imran Khan has been one of the most vocal supporters of this radical change.

Imran has been a vocal opponent of departments and banks being allowed to play in the domestic cricket season with other former players also backing his arguments.

The irony is that Imran and many of the stars of recent years are all by-products of departmental cricket.

The role of departments and banks for long has been a raging debate in Pakistan cricket but everytime this issue has come up, the board has always backed off at the last moment.

"But this time Dr Ashraf is serious and wants to see positive changes in our domestic cricket. There is no bluffing this time," one board official said.

Departments and banks have been an integral part of Pakistan cricket since the 1960's and have provided employment to hundreds of established and young players.

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For years now the board has organised a first-class competition and one-day tournament primarily for the commercial departments and banks.

But an indication of the board's changing policy under the chairmanship of Dr Nasim Ashraf has come with a decision to postpone a meeting called to discuss the role of departments and banks in future on May 30.

"Obviously the meeting's postponement is a clear indication that some officials including Zakir Khan, Director cricket operations don't want any discussions on this issue and a straightforward decision is to be taken by the board itself," one source said.

It is no secret that Zakir is very close to Imran. Former captain, Javed Miandad said that if the board made the mistake of cancelling the role of departments and banks in domestic cricket it would cause great harm to the future of Pakistani cricketers.

"It is nonsense to compare the domestic structures of other countries with ours. Because the socio-economic conditions differ totally. In Pakistan banks and departments provide job security to young players and don't forget that only a handful of players at the domestic level get a chance to represent Pakistan," he said.

A senior official of a leading bank feared that the board was about to take a decision that would change the course of Pakistan cricket for the worse.

"The board says it will channelise and pour money into regional cricket to support association teams and players. But for how long?" he questioned.



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