ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) think-tank has initiated a consultation process to set aside the required amount to increase the annual contract retainer fee in the annual budget of some top Pakistani cricketers. A well-placed source informed the publication that captain Babar Azam, head coach Saqlain Mushtaq, Director International Zakir Khan, and Chief Selector Mohammad Wasim held virtual and on-spot meetings during the last two days to discuss the strength of cricketers for central contracts for the year starting from July 1. Since the PCB is in the process of finalizing the annual budget for the year 2022-23, currently it is analyzing the amount of the budget to be earmarked for central and domestic contracts. Last year, 20 leading players were offered central contracts besides contracts offered to 191 domestic cricketers that included a number of cricketers receiving A plus category almost equal to the amount leading cricketers got for a central contract. A source within the PCB said: “This is just an initial consultation process aimed at getting the feedback from leading protagonists as to what should be the total budget and what ideal criterion to award central and domestic contracts. “Since the few weeks remain at our disposal, it is too early to decide on the total strength of the cricketers to be awarded contracts. It is just an initial discussion, aimed more at finalizing the basics and setting the criteria rather than finalizing it. More such meetings are expected in coming weeks before finalizing how many cricketers have genuine right to earn the central contracts.” A significant increase of around 20-30% is expected in retainers’ fees for the leading categories of the central contracts for players for the next six months or a year. According to reports, a sizeable amount is expected to be increased as a central contract retainer fee. This could be around 20-30%. The PCB always tried to offer the best possible deal to the leading cricketers and it would do that in consultation with Babar and head coach Saqlain. Those cricketers who would be of real use to the national team would be included in the central contracts list. Shan Masood who was left out of the list could be included in the list considering his outstanding form and his utility for the team in both formats,” the source added.