Lahore: Pakistan cricket board (PCB) have dished out central contracts to 35 of the nation’s leading players, with a strong emphasis on youth.
Middle order batsman Umar Akmal is the highest-profile casualty of the new list for Pakistan that has seen several retirements in the past 12 months, including of legendary veterans Younis Khan and captain Misbah-ul-Haq.
Akmal, who was dropped from the international squad just ahead of ICC Champions trophy, did not make the cut.
Pakistan splits its central contracts into four categories, with the A group the elite, and most well-paid, players.
The list is an increase of seven on the 28 given contracts in 2016-17.
There are six players in Category A, including all-formats skipper Sarfraz Ahmed who last month steered the country to the Champions Trophy title for their first major one-day trophy since the 1992 World Cup.
Sarfraz, leg-spinner Yasir Shah and fast bowler Mohammed Amir have all been elevated to Category A.
Babar Azam, Imad Wasim and Hasan Ali, who was electric in the Champions Trophy, all earned promotions to Category B contracts, while fast bowlers Wahab Riaz and Rahat Ali saw their stocks fall to be demoted to Category C.
Fakhar Zaman, who made his international debut during the Champions Trophy and played a key role in their victory, was added to the list in Category C.
“A number of young players have been awarded central contracts this year keeping in mind that the national teams in all formats will be going through a transitionary period after a number of retirements from last year’s central contract list,” the Pakistan Cricket Board said in a statement.
“The central contracts were awarded after keeping in mind the performances, fitness, and discipline of the players.”
Under a three-year deal struck between players and the board, the monthly retainers for all categories increased 10 per cent for the new financial year. Although unconfirmed by the PCB, Pakistan media reported a Category A contract was worth PKR650,000 per month (A$8,000) while a Category B contract earns PKR450,000 (A$5,500).
Pakistan Central Contracts 2017-18
Category A: Azhar Ali, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Amir
Category B: Babar Azam, Imad Wasim, Asad Shafiq, Hasan Ali
Category C: Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali, Haris Sohail, Sami Aslam, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Junaid Khan, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Abbas, Shadab Khan
Category D: Mohammad Nawaz, Asif Zakir, Usama Salahuddin, Amir Yamin, Usman Shinwari, Fahim Ashraf, Ruman Raees, Imamul Haq, Bilal Asif, Mir Hamza, Umer Amin, Mohammad Hasan, Mohammad Asghar, Mohammad Rizwa.