Shoaib Malik and Azhar Ali get A category central contracts

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Saturday, in a surprise move, included all-rounder Shoaib Malik among six players who were awarded category A central contracts. Test captain Misbahul Haq, Twenty20 skipper Shahid Afridi, batsman Younus Khan and all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez were retained in the top category while one-day captain Azhar Ali was elevated from category C to A. The PCB central contracts selection panel comprised of national chief selector Haroon Rasheed, head coach Waqar Younis and Zakir Khan, the director of international cricket operations. The inclusion of 33-year-old Malik has raised many an eyebrow as he had not been part of the PCB’s central contract for the last two years since he was dropped after the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy due to lack of form. Malik was recalled for the limited overs series against Zimbabwe at home in May after two years and scored a century against the African nation. He also performed well during the recently concluded series against Sri Lanka.

The players and the PCB had been negotiating a rise in the monthly retainer with many options, such as ending the performance based contract. The players, however, objected to this. Instead, they agreed to a contract which besides the monthly retainer, gave the players an opportunity to make extra money by scoring a hundred, taking four or more wickets, or having an exceptional series. The players also agreed to continue with the 10 percent raise offered earlier this year by the PCB.

Fast bowler Umar Gul, recovering from knee surgery, has been ignored by the PCB in the list of 27 players, who were given contracts in four categories for a period in between July 2015-June 2016. Fast bowler Junaid Khan and Saeed Ajmal have been demoted from category A to B while Umar Akmal has slipped into category C from B. Ajmal has been struggling to cement his place in the side after remodelling his bowling action. Tall fast bowler Mohammad Irfan gets a promotion from category D to C.

“This bunch is a blend of seasoned players with proven credentials and emerging talent with potential to represent Pakistan across three formats,” the PCB said in a statement. “The remunerations – both the monthly retainer as well as match fees – have been increased across the board along with restoring the win bonuses and performance incentives.” Some of the notable players to completely miss out on a contract are Khurram Manzoor, Nasir Jamshed, Abdur Rehman, Adnan Akmal, Sohail Khan, Mohammad Talha, Bilawal Bhatti, Sharjeel Khan, Ehsan Adil and Raza Hasan.

PCB’s monthly retainer: The monthly retainer had already been increased by 10 percent for all categories in the January-June central contract. Performance incentives have been further rationalised and increased after feedback from the Pakistan players. Bonuses for wins against Full Members have been restored. All bonuses (match win, series win, and performance incentives) have been expanded and will be paid even if a Test or ODI series is drawn for the number of won matches except in the case of a drawn T20I series.

Central contracts:

Category A: Azhar Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Misbahul Haq, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Younus Khan.

Category B: Ahmed Shehzad, Asad Shafiq, Junaid Khan, Rahat Ali, Saeed Ajmal, Sarfraz Ahmed, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah.

Category C: Anwar Ali, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Imran, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Rizwan, Shaan Masood, Umar Akmal

Category D: Babar Azam, Sami Aslam, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Amin, Zulfiqar Babar.

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