LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has awarded contracts to 192 players in different categories for the upcoming domestic season. “Our prime objective to give maximum practice in the T20 and 50-over formats keeping in mind the back-to-back T20 World Cups in India and Australia over the next two years and the ICC 50-over World Cup to be hosted by India in 2023,” a spokesman for the PCB said on Tuesday. “This is why we have decided to stage the National T20 Cup and the Pakistan Cup on a double league system in order to give our cricketers more opportunities to showcase themselves”, he added. The PCB official further said that as many as 44 matches of the domestic competitions would be televised live. “It is mainly because of the recent $200 million deal the Pakistan Cricket Board signed with Pakistan Television. The record number of games to be telecast is a milestone because this had never happened in the past.” Another salient feature in the coming months will be the monitoring of the head coach of each team by the National High Performance Centre. “Contrary to what critics say, we are planning to engage Saqlain Mushtaq (head of international player development) and Grant Bradburn (head of high performance coaching) as observers to monitor closely the performance of not only the competing teams but also how the head coach of each side is interacting with their players and how they plan out strategies,” the spokesman added. “Both head coach Misbah-ul-Haq and bowling coach Waqar Younis are already in Multan to oversee the National T20 Cup This novel step is being initiated to inculcate a culture of clarity between all stakeholders because previously gap existed between the coaches and the high performance centre. Overall, the PCB’s motive is to invest in domestic cricket.” Commenting on the newly-inducted contracts, the official said that the criteria had been altered significantly to prevent feeling of heartburn among the players. “That is why have set up a new criteria for the players by giving them performance-based contracts by moving from the fixed slap retainer structure to a category-based retainer structure. “I think it is fair on leading and experienced players to be treated and paid differently to a newcomer. This is also a consistent system of how we offer central contracts to our elite cricketers. Through this model, we have also ensured we retain and protect our age-group cricketers, who in the past have dropped out either due to non-selection or non-recognition. There are eight cricketers who played in the ICC Under-19 World Cup earlier in the year and 11 Emerging/Shaheen players who will now remain part of the system and will get their opportunities to improve and move in an upward direction. Moreover, from these 192 contracted players, 146 are those who have no jobs while 24 had contractual employments. This way the board is looking after the wellbeing of talented and high-performing cricketers and remains on track to introducing professionalism in cricket, which is the only way to attain excellence.”The breakup of the 192 contracts announced has 10 players in the A Plus category (who will get monthly retainer of Rs150,000) comprising leading performers from the 2019-20 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy First XI event and the players part of the national squad but without a central or emerging contract. Category A (monthly retainer Rs 85,000) has 38 players, including 10 best performers from the last season or the ones who have previously represented Pakistan at the highest-level. Category B (monthly retainer Rs75,000) includes 47 players who have played T20 Internationals, are amongst the top 10 performers from last season’s First XI National T20 Cup, had a good first-class season in 2019-20 or have represented Pakistan Shaheens/Emerging since 2019. Category C (monthly retainer Rs 65,000) includes 71 players who either featured in the Pakistan Super League editions of 2019 and 2020, were amongst the performers of Quaid-e-Azam Trophy (both First and Second XIs) 2019-20 performers, top 10 performers of the 2018-19 Pakistan Cup, best batsman/bowler of the 2018-19 Patron’s Trophy Grade-II tournament or have represented Pakistan in age-group cricket. Category D (monthly retainer Rs40,000) has 26 players who are all part of the six cricket association sides. Among the beneficiaries of this scheme are Fawad Alam, Faheem Ashraf, Bilal Asif, Imran Khan and Sohail Khan, who have been awarded A Plus contracts, while a host of ex-internationals and discards have been given A Category contracts.