LAHORE - The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has axed veteran cricketers Shoaib Malik and Kamran Akmal from their list of central contracts for 2014 while experienced middle order batsman Younis Khan was also demoted from Category A to B as per the list released on Thursday.
Pakistan Test and limited-overs captain Misbahul Haq and flamboyant all-rounder Shahid Afridi were among five players given top category A contracts by the board. M Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal and Junaid Khan were the other players in the top category as the PCB announced central contracts to 31 players in four categories.
PCB 's director international Zakir Khan, chief selector Moin Khan and camp commandant M Akram selected the contracted players after evaluating their fitness during a month-long training camp here at the Gaddafi Stadium. "The committee took three factors into consideration while finalizing the list; form and performance, fitness level and future potential," Zakir Khan said.  "The 31 contacts are awarded to establish players and young ones with future potential – with across-the-board increases in remunerations. The standout feature this year is that not only the monthly retainer has been substantively increased, but also match fees for Test and ODI cricket have seen steep upward revision," he added.
Ahmed Shehzad, who played three Test matches against Sri Lanka in UAE earlier this year and scored a century in the World T20, was upgraded to B from C last year and remained in that category. Apart from Malik and Kamran , Imran Farhat, Aizaz Cheema and Taufeeq Umar were left out of the pool of contracted players this year. Both Malik and Kamran had been omitted from the month-long summer camp in Lahore, because the selectors weren't satisfied with their recent performances in the World T20.
Category D, also known as the stipends category, includes promising players like Sharjeel Khan, Ehsan Adil, Raza Hasan, Haris Sohail and Shan Masood. Test wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal, who injured his finger last year against Sri Lanka, was retained in category C, while his replacement Sarfaraz Ahmed was retained in D.
The PCB has increased the monthly salaries and Test match fees for all categories by 25 percent while remuneration for ODIs has been raised by 10 percent. Players will also be offered increased win bonuses - from 200 to 250 percent - for winning a series against the three top-ranked teams in the world as well as against archrivals India. The contracts will be effective from January 1 this year.
The PCB had planned to reduce the number of central contacts to 22, but it was increased to 31. Last year, 30 contracts were handed out and for 2014, the idea was to downsize and retain only those who are likely to play throughout the year.
CATEGORY A (Rs 449,218 per month): Misbah-ul-Haq, M Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi , Junaid Khan.
CATEGORY B (Rs 314,452): Younis Khan, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul.
CATEGORY C (Rs 179,687): Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Adnan Akmal, Khurram Manzoor, Nasir Jamshed, Abdul Rehman.
CATEGORY D (Rs 89,843) : Sohaib Maqsood, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Bilawal Bhatti, Sharjeel Khan, Zulfiqar Babar, Fawad Alam, Ehsan Adil, Mohammad Irfan, Wahab Riaz, Raza Hasan, Umar Amin, Haris Sohail, Rahat Ali, Shaan Masood, Mohammad Talha, Anwar Ali.