The PCB has invited the divisional teams to return to domestic cricket

The Pakistan Cricket Board has invited the three military institutions as well as the private and public sectors of the country to be part of the domestic circuit. The PCB began restructuring domestic cricket, and reverted to a 16-team hybrid first-class model that included both regions and divisions.

The PCB has already scrapped the previous six-team model after the 2022-23 season ends in the first week of January.

“The Pakistan Cricket Board has formally written to 27 top divisions, seeking interest in participating in the PCB domestic cricket season 2023-24, which will begin in August,” the PCB confirmed in a press release. “In the letters, the PCB has not only invited the departments to confirm their participation in the upcoming season as soon as convenient. [which] Can help them prepare the season calendar but also encourage them to build strong cricket teams by assuring them maximum coverage and promotion through traditional and new media.”

In the new structure, eight regional teams and eight divisional teams will play in the premier first-class tournament, the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. Each season, the regional and divisional teams move to the bottom, and the top two (a region and a division) advance from the Grade 2 tournament. Although the 2023-24 season effectively starts in August, the Pakistan government has given new PCB chief Najam Shetty 120 days (starting from December 21, 2022) to reset the set-up and revert to the 2014 constitution.

Struggling with time, the PCB management committee is making all-out efforts to return to the earlier model, reviving 97 districts comprising 16 regions. There are already around 3200 clubs operating across the country and are major feeders of players to the regional system.

Recently, the government of Pakistan Ramiz removes Raja And his board revoked the 2019 constitution governing the PCB and brought back Najam Sethi to head the management committee, giving it full executive powers to act to revive the 2014 constitution. Apart from changes to the board and its structure, the constitution will bring back divisional aspects in the domestic circuit as well – they were removed after former Pakistan captain Imran Khan became the country’s prime minister in 2019 (the prime minister automatically becomes PCB’s patron).

Although the PCB has approached the departments, it is not clear whether the departments are willing to revive their teams in the current economic climate. Such organizations may not have much appetite to hire a squad of cricketers. Even before Imran’s transition, a number of divisional sides had suspended their sports operations, with Habib Bank Limited (HBL) and United Bank Limited (UBL) among the notable ones to do so.

PCB’s current patron-in-chief Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif had already issued a directive to all 18 government departments/institutions in Pakistan in October last year to restore governance of their sports structures and resume funding of sports departments. Its pick-up has been slow – ESPNcricinfo understands that Ramiz Raja, as chairman, wrote to private banks to inquire about reviving their teams but they showed little interest. Various government departments are dependent on the government budget and have not allocated budget since the Prime Minister’s notification.

A few government departments that function autonomously – such as State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Sui National Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL), Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV), Sui Southern Gas (SSG), Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), Zarai Tarakiati Bank Ltd (ZTBL), and the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) – could easily allocate funds although it is not clear whether they see it as a priority. PCB’s letter seeks to know their intentions. It is understood that not all 27 categories will be willing to return but at least 16 are required in the system under the PCB’s proposed domestic structure. PSL franchise Lahore Qalandars are among the private teams willing to launch a team in the Grade 2 set-up to complement their player hunt programme.

As per the 2014 constitution, the Board of Governors (BoG) will have ten members, including four regional representatives (the top four teams in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy), four representatives from the service organizations (the top four divisional teams) and two. Members will be nominated at the discretion of the sponsor. The PCB must also have an active home circuit to form a board.

The abolition of divisions in 2019 sparked outrage among the Pakistani cricket community. A group of former board members and cricketers, including Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez and Umar Gul, called on the government. To return to the previous domestic structure These included departmental parties such as Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), SNGPL and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). The model introduced at Imran’s insistence led to a large number of players Losing their livelihood from their employment with the Departments.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent

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