LAHORE    -    The new domestic structure introduced by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has received the backing of star Pakistan cricketers including present and former players.

The PCB unveiled an ambitious and competitive 2019-20 domestic cricket structure, which revolves around the creation of a more quality and intensity focused system to significantly improve first-class cricket and create sustainable success at international level. The new structure will give importance to club cricket, provide the best cricketing environment to young talented cricketers, reward top performers, create employment opportunities for former cricketers and qualified coaches, and bridge the gap between domestic and international cricket.

Former Pakistan captain and renowned commentator Ramiz Raja Thursday congratulated the PCB on the new domestic system. He hopes the system will bring meritocracy both in administration and player selection. “It is an extremely courageous and bold move by the PCB to revamp the domestic structure. The old system was not working and its failings were reflected in our inconsistent performances on the international scene.

“This new system is very logical with emphasis on city based and province based system. I want to congratulate the PCB on this important step. Going forward, it would be vital for the PCB to hire capable administrators to run the city based associations, people who don’t have vested interests or indulge in club level politics.The system has to ensure that talent is not lost due to a poor selection or a personal bias,” Ramiz added.

Former Test pacer Aaqib Javed is a fan of new domestic system and according to him, it is focusing on quality while overcoming the challenges and confusion of the past. “I have studied the new domestic structure and it is a dream come true kind of a situation.”

Former captain Shahid Afridi also backed the new domestic system, saying the system will once again bring value to first-class cricket and cricketers and it will encourage performers, making them work hard to retain their contracts. “This system looks very good as it is set to promote quality over quantity.”

Former international player Ghulam Ali feels the new system will produce mentally tough cricketers, who should progress to international cricket with relative ease.  Former Test batsman Bazid Khan said the biggest positive of new system should be the quality of pitches and also hoped that umpiring standards would improve with greater scrutiny than ever on the match officials. “The use of the Kookaburra balls is a move which should help narrow the gap between domestic and international cricket.”

Giving an elaborate assessment of new domestic system, cricket pundit Rashid Latif said the new domestic system is focused on providing more quality, through the new system’s spaced out first-class schedule. The curators will have plenty of time to prepare quality pitches.

Latif is willing to give the system two to three years for fruition and a positive impact on Pakistan cricket. “The standard of pitches should improve considerably since the games are spaced out while umpiring will be under more scrutiny than ever which should hopefully help improve this crucial aspect of the game. Umpiring hasn’t been satisfactory in recent times at the domestic level, I hope there is emphasis on maintaining the standard from now on.”

Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed termed new domestic structure as ‘competitive’. “The new domestic system will be very competitive. The selectors will try and make strong teams. To me, the idea of a second XI is very exciting. The players, who perform for the second XI, will get a chance to progress to the main team and that will be a big boost to the players. At the top-level, the presence of six teams’ means that the focus would remain on the quality of the games.

“These are exciting times and I am very confident that the new system will make this year’s domestic cricket very competitive for the players and the fans alike. We will get to see good cricket which should help young players as they graduate to the highest level,” he added.

Test cricketer Azhar Ali said: “The new domestic system will be very exciting, cricket would be very competitive and quality will improve. Players would have to produce their A game all the time since there won’t be any easy games or opposition on offer.  “The good thing about well-balanced teams is that it will make the competition tough for all involved which means all the players involved would have to be on their toes throughout. The system is based on quality of performance only which is really exciting for all of us.”

Test cricketer Fawad Alam feels the real assessment of the new system will be made by the time the 2019-20 season comes to a close. “It’s a new system and hopefully it would be good for cricketers and Pakistan cricket.”

Test opener Shan Masood feels that the new system is set to provide quality over quantity. For Shan, lesser number of teams with an equally distributed talent pool means, no opposition would be of inferior quality.

“Since the pool of players has shortened, only the quality performers are likely to be seen in action. Top-class players will compete in first-class cricket, efforts will be made to ensure participation of centrally contracted players or the players who are Pakistan regulars which will further enhance the quality of the competition,” he added.