LAHORE - Pakistan's top cricketers are set to take further financial hits after the PCB imposed caps on their participation in T20 leagues around the world.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has decided to restrict its centrally-contracted players’ participation to two foreign leagues each season. Chairman Najam Sethi endorsed the decision proposed by a PCB committee to restrict contracted players’ participation in cash-rich T20 leagues around the world to two per season, a press release issued on Wednesday said.

The press release however, does not ascertain whether the Pakistan Super League (PSL) will be included in two per season allowed leagues or would be treated as a domestic event. Already among the lowest-paid professionals in world cricket, and not allowed in the IPL, the PCB's decision will come as a big blow.

Last season, a number of contracted players featured in the world's major T20 leagues - apart from the IPL - forcing national coaches and selectors to raise concerns over their fitness and vulnerability to injuries from the workload as well as T10 league. Those concerns came to a head in the last few months with head coach Mickey Arthur pushing for higher fitness standards across the board.

These drastic decisions were taken at a meeting which was formed to discuss various matters. Chairman PCB, Najam Sethi presided over the meeting which also took a number of important decisions regarding domestic cricket.

The meeting was attended by Subhan Ahmad, Chief Operating Officer PCB, Muddassar Nazar, Director Academies, Inzamamul Haq, Chief Selector, Haroon Rashid, Director Cricket Operations, Shakil Ahmed Shaikh, Adviser to Chairman PCB  and Saqib Irfan, Sr. Manager Domestic Cricket Operations.

"Centrally contracted players will be allowed to participate in two leagues only in a cricket season," the board said. "The non-contracted players are bound to play at least three domestic first-class matches for them to be entitled to receive the NOC. While retired players do not need any NOC from PCB, however as per ICC's rule they are bound to obtain an NOC from PCB for two years from the date of their retirement."

To deal with special cases not covered under the rules, a four-member committee comprising the Chairman, Chief Selector, Head Coach Pakistan Team and Director Cricket Operations will decide to issue NOC for players wishing to participate in any additional league, the press release stated.

Given that the Pakistan domestic season starts in September and ends in March, and that the BPL, the T10 League, and the BBL all take place in that time, it leaves the Caribbean Premier League and the T20 Blast as the major tournaments top cricketers can target.

The committee also discussed the rules for Privately Organized Cricket, NOC Policy for Players participating in Foreign Leagues, Proposed Domestic Cricket Structure and existing cricket infrastructure and its uplifting/up-gradation.

He said the PCB Chairman has endorsed decisions regarding holding of the private league.

"Rules for holding private league(s) have been made elaborately clear to the applicant(s) for clear understanding and applicant(s) will have to fully abide by the rules made for granting permission to hold private league(s) before issuing any NOC(s) to them. The rules will be circulated shortly to all parties who have shown interest in holding private tournaments involving current players," the press release added.

There will be no change in the existing domestic cricket structure adopted in the cricket season 2017-18 and it will continue to be implemented in the forthcoming season of 2018-19 with one amendment which is that one day tournament would also be held alongside four day first class tournament having one day rest in between 4 day and 1 day matches.

Last season, the teams in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy were put through a strenuous schedule of seven four-day games in just 41 days.

The first-class format remains intact for the third year running, with 16 teams (eight regional and eight departments), but the selection process was tweaked last year, allowing eight players to be picked through the draft process.

The bottom ranked team of Region i.e. Faisalabad from 2017-18 QAT will be relegated to QAT Grade II and in its place the top ranked Region team of Grade II 2017/18 winner of QAT will be promoted to first-class cricket for season 2018-19.

Likewise, bottom ranked team of Department i.e. National Bank of Pakistan from 2017-18 QAT will be relegated to Patron’s Trophy Grade II and in its place, the top ranked Department team of Patron’s Trophy Grade II i.e. ZTBL will be promoted to first-class cricket for season 2018-19.

Domestic players match fees would be enhanced in order to financially strengthen regional players to bring them at par with the departmental players. Monthly retainer-ship amount being paid to domestic players as per current policy will be diverted towards domestic players match fee enhancement.

The committee also decided to outsource organisation of PCB controlled club cricket at districts level. This tournament will be in addition to the mandatory requirement of districts to organise two club level tournaments.

Number of teams participating in Patrons Trophy Grade II in 2018/19 will be reduced to 16 to bring quality and competitiveness in Patrons Trophy Grade II level. This will be done on the basis of more stringent criteria for qualification of teams to play Patrons Trophy Grade II.

Shakil Shaikh, adviser to the Chairman, has been given the task to visit all the first-class centers and submit a report on pitches and infrastructures along with recommendations to upgrade the existing pitches and facilities within next 30 days. Director Academies Mudassar Nazar or Director Cricket Operations Haroon Rashid may accompany him during these visits.