Wednesday May 13, 2020
Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz were the biggest absentees as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Wednesday announced its list of centrally contracted players for the 2020-21 season.
The PCB handed central contracts to a total of 18 players while another three were placed in Emerging Players’ category.
As expected, Babar Azam was retained in the topmost Category A, while former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed and Yasir Shah got demoted to Category B. In their place, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Test captain Azhar Ali have been promoted.
Starlet Naseem Shah and all-rounder Iftikhar Ahmad (Category C) were the first-time recipients of the contracts but the biggest news was the snub of pace trio Amir, Riaz and Hasan – all three of whom have seen their utility diminish over the past year.
“The selectors have made the tough decision to leave out Amir, Hasan and Wahab but considering Hasan missed most of the season due to an injury and Amir and Wahab decided to focus on white-ball cricket, this was the right move,” said Head Coach Misbah-ul-Haq.
“However, Amir and Wahab are senior and experienced bowlers and they remain in contention as we believe they can still contribute to the Pakistan men’s cricket team and also mentor our young battery of fast bowlers.”
Sarfaraz's demotion and his replacement Mohammad Rizwan's promotion means the two rivals are now in the same category.
“Mohammad Rizwan has been promoted to Category B after being a regular member of the side, while Sarfaraz has been placed in Category B as he very much features in our future plans. We have some tough cricket lined up over the next 12 months where we will potentially require Sarfaraz’s knowledge and experience," Misbah is quoted as explaining in the PCB press release.
The chief selector congratulated young pace studs Naseem and Shaheen, as well as bowling coach Waqar Younis.
“I am delighted for Naseem and Shaheen who have been well-rewarded for their outstanding performances. The two teenagers are the future of Pakistan cricket and I have no doubts that if they remain fit and stay focused, they will dominate world cricket for a long time," said Misbah.
"Their elevation is also a reward for bowling coach Waqar Younis, who has been working tirelessly on them, but there is still a long way to go for the duo and they have to perform consistently at big stages before they can put their cases of classifying them in the league of bowlers such as Waqar."
“In the list, we have a strong pool of batsmen and bowlers, which will allow us to strategically rotate our players and manage their workloads. In the meantime, the selectors will continue to keep an eye on the 2020-21 domestic cricket and if they feel strongly that someone needs to be fast tracked into the national side, then we will not hesitate in giving those top performers such opportunities,” the coach added.
The PCB has also created a new Emerging Players’ Category, and the initial inductees are Haider Ali and fast bowlers Haris Rauf and Mohammad Hasnain.
"The philosophy and criteria for this merit-based central contract list was 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," Misbah said.
The PCB said it is also in "the process of creating enhanced domestic contracts for the 2020-21 season so that they remained valued and motivated".
In the forthcoming season, Pakistan is scheduled to play 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).
In addition to these bilateral series, Pakistan will also feature in the Asia Cup T20 tournament and the ICC T20 Men’s World Cup 2020 in Australia.