By Sohail Ali
LAHORE, Sep 17 (APP): Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has thrown his weight behind the current domestic cricket structure a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is also the Patron of the Pakistan Cricket Board, fully backed it during a broadcast deal signing ceremony between the PCB and PTV Sports.
Afridi, who played a staggering 524 international matches for Pakistan (27 Tests, 398 ODIs, 99 T20Is) in a career spanning 20 years, said on Thursday that the new system needs to be given two to three years for it to pay rewards during his interaction with the media on the sidelines of a Shahid Afridi Foundation event.
“Currently nearly 290 players are in the system with contracts [270 domestic central or seasonal contracts besides PCB centrally contracted players] while around 100 former cricketers will be given jobs for Cricket Associations. I don’t think so there is unemployment at large with the end of departmental cricket, most of the side-lined players didn’t have a future in the game or were past their prime as players and nearing retirement,” he said.
On 30 September, the PCB will begin its second domestic season under the new domestic cricket model, which is based on six Cricket Associations. Over the course of the 2020-21 season, in which National T20 Cup, Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and Pakistan Cup One-Day tournament will be played, each association will field its first XI, second XI and U19 teams.
“Every system formulated needs to be given at least two to three years,” Afridi said. “This revamped system is still new in the sense that it is in its second year. The results will start coming in a year or so from now.
“If the Prime Minister thinks that this system will develop world-class players then we must back it for a year or the next 18 months at least. We shouldn’t rush for results, Pakistan is seven decades old, everything needs time and this system also needs time and our backing.”
Meanwhile, the PCB announced on Wednesday, a comprehensive plan to boost domestic cricket while providing more job opportunities following a historic $200 million (three-year) deal for broadcast with the state broadcaster. The deal will take all domestic and international cricket featuring men’s, women’s and age-group cricketers to every home in Pakistan.
The PCB also revealed its plans to invest PKR15billion over the next three years on both men and women domestic cricket structure, which include upgrading of stadiums and infrastructure, building provincial academies and centres of excellence.
This will also lay an employment path for over 100 former cricketers as coaches and managers for the City Cricket Associations, restart inter-university cricket, investment in grass roots cricket and improve players’ earning and welfare.