LAHORE - The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Wednesday announced a new two-tier domestic structure which will have sponsors and involve promotion and relegation between the two divisions.
PCB chairman Najam Sethi unveiled a new domestic league revamp in a press conference held here at the Gaddafi Stadium, though demands to remove commercial and government department teams from the competition were ignored. "It is a very important day today due to announcement of the domestic cricket structure is being made on modern lines. We are very keen to promote regional cricket. In this model, our marketing department will look for sponsors for regional cricket so the standard can be raised and there can be more competition," he said.
"Due to the investment from the private sector, they will ask for results and cricket level will go up and new players will be produced. This formula will be used in the PSL as well," Sethi said. "PCB will pay money for new infrastructure around the country. There were 15 regions previously and now we have added Azad Kashmir too to make it 16," he said.  He said that the decision of paying decent stipends to top U-16 players would help the board hunt fresh and promising talent. "Top 50 players from the U-16 level will get Rs 5,000 per month so that they have enough security."
Sethi said that they wanted to improve standard of first class players. “The main purpose of the changes is to increase competition and quality. Also with more money coming into the game from sponsors, our players will be more secure and happy. We will also use the money to improve grounds and facilities.”
To a query regarding implementation of this new domestic infrastructure after new PCB chairman takes charge, he replied: "We hope in new upcoming elections, we can brief the new chairman about his duties and responsibilities. Only I will be leaving whereas rest of the staff will remain the same."
To another query regarding the PSL, Sethi said: "We will get all the details about the PSL in the next 30 days. New committee will be in place to handle the PSL as we have already received letters from the bidders. There is a lot of interest from bidders and the sponsors and there will be a lot of money introduced in to the tournament. The first PSL will be held in Dubai and I will be briefing the news soon."
When asked about revival of international cricket in the country and any good news regarding arrival of any foreign team here, Sethi said: "No foreign player is ready to come to Pakistan yet. Ireland was ready to come here in December to play three ODI's in Lahore but after the Karachi incident, it collapsed."
Pakistan has long suffered from a below-par domestic structure . Many of its cricket heroes, such as Javed Miandad, honed their skills in street games rather than with teams. The new championship will have two divisions. Sethi added that under the new structure , regional teams could receive private sponsorship so that they could compete with better-funded government departments and teams run by private companies such as banks.
But former captain and chief selector Aamir Sohail slammed the proposed changes and said the regional teams would struggle to compete financially. "The PCB doesn’t know how to administer the game. When regions don't have full-fledged offices and no marketing people, they can't do this," he said. Former Pakistan captain Imran Khan has also been a vocal critic of the domestic championship, demanding that commercial organisations be excluded.
PCB director of game development Haroon Rasheed said the new domestic cricket championship would have two first-class divisions. "The division one tournament will be called 'Gold league' comprising six regional and six departmental teams while the division two will be 'Silver league' with seven department and as many regional teams. Each year, the bottom two teams from division one will be relegated and the two top teams from division two promoted," he said.
"The domestic structure has never been stable as it is changing all the time. Regional players played in departments and vice versa and last year we changed it. It is five-year proposal which will be reviewed after three years to check the progress and development. We have first class, list A, T20 and U-19 tournaments, U-17 teams will play U-19 tournament too," he added.