ISLAMABAD   -   Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi has backed the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) new six-team domestic cricket system, saying it will help the country in getting quality cricketers.

While talking to The Nation on Friday, Afridi said: “I always had a very clear stance on domestic cricket system. I always remained a vocal supporter of reducing the size of the teams to ensure competitive and quality cricket. Around 400 players played the first class cricket last year, as the PCB had expanded the quantity of cricketers. Previously, the PCB distributed first class caps to almost every player for playing in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. But after this new system, players will have to dig deep and give performance as per international standards to play first class cricket.

Every system must be continued for at least three to four years and changes in the system must not be made after every year. I hope this new system will remain a constant hit. It is the need of the hour to improve our domestic cricket, as we were not getting quality players for the last several years. We only got one or two quality players from the Pakistan Super League (PSL).”

The 44-year-old further said: “I will continue to support quality cricket, as without ensuring tough rules and providing chances to players, we will not get quality cricketers to represent the country at international level. Our new players manage to get green caps and make debuts, but they always vanished soon, which affects Pakistan cricket badly. With fewer teams, we will witness tough competitions between the players. Now the PCB is offering quality amount for domestic players, which will enable players to give their 100 percent. As per the system, almost 200 players will be vying for few available places in the national team.

We need top class bowlers, as there is acute shortage of quality pacers. We are also in dire need of a top class off-spinner and an all-rounder, as we don’t have any after Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Razzaq and Azhar Mehmood. That is why Pakistan team suffer especially in the Test and 50 overs. I hope, the new season will unearth some spinners, fast bowlers, batsmen, wicketkeepers and all-rounders.”

When asked about PCB’s decision to appoint Misbah-ul-Haq as head coach-cum-chief selector despite the fact that he doesn’t have any such experience, Afridi replied: “I think it is a massive challenge for Misbah and the PCB. My prayers are with him, as he has two huge responsibilities. He has to balance both roles and prove the trust shown in him by the PCB.”

“He has earlier proved his skills as captain of the national team. If he will take tough decisions, ensure merit and handle pressure sensibly, he will definitely deliver goods for the country,” Afridi concluded.”