LAHORE    -    Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) policy on investing in its elite match officials by giving them maximum opportunities to show their decision-making and man-management skills was evident when it announced the umpire and match referee appointments for the Rs 9 million National T20 Cup, which begins in Multan on September 30.

The six match referees and 14 umpires from the PCB elite panel of match officials will officiate in the First XI matches to be held in Multan till October 6, before action moves to Rawalpindi where the second round and knock-out games will be played from October 9-18. As such, all elite umpires and match officials are expected to get a minimum of nine and five matches, respectively, in the 33-match tournament, which will be produced by the PCB and broadcasted live on PTV Sports. 

Iqbal Sheikh will lead the playing control team in the September 30’s National T20 Cup opener between Northern and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while Faisal Khan Afridi and Zameer Haider will perform on-field duties. Qaiser Waheed and Aftab Gillani will be the third and fourth umpires, respectively. 

Prof Mohammad Javed Malik will be the match referee for the October 18 final, which will be umpired by Ahsan Raza and Asif Yaqoob. Rashid Riaz will be in the third umpire’s box and Shozab Raza will perform the duties of fourth umpire. The six-member PCB Elite Panel of match referees includes Ali Naqvi (Lahore), Iftikhar Ahmed (Karachi), Muhammad Anees (Lahore), Muhammad Iqbal Sheikh (Hyderabad), Nadeem Arshad (Faisalabad) and Prof Mohammad Javed Malik (Multan). 

The 14-member PCB elite panel of umpires is Ahsan Raza (Lahore), Aftab Hussain Gillani (Bahawalpur), Asif Yaqoob (Islamabad), Faisal Khan Afridi (Sargodha), Ghaffar Kazmi (Lahore), Imran Javed (Karachi), Nasir Hussain Snr (Lahore), Qaiser Waheed (Lahore), Rashid Riaz Waqar (Lahore), Saqib Khan (Abbottabad), Shozab Raza (Lahore), Syed Imtiaz Iqbal (Karachi), Waleed Yaqub (Lahore) and Zameer Haider (Lahore). 

Umpires and referees manager Bilal Qureshi said: “The match officials appointed for the National T20 are the best we have in the country and this event is an ideal opportunity for them to display their skills and make a mark. There has been no match referee in the ICC elite panel from Pakistan since 2004, while the last umpire to make a Test debut was Nadeem Ghauri, 15 years ago. The PCB is keen to develop and groom its match officials so that there is Pakistan’s representation in the ICC’s elite panel and, in this relation, will be providing maximum matches to these elite officials to showcase their skills in the 2020-21 season.

“As the matches will be televised live by PTV Sports and participated by our best 20-over players, this is an excellent opportunity for these match officials to display their decision-making as well as man-management skills, which will form the basis of their promotions to the next level.” 

Meanwhile, match referees and umpires from the PCB supplementary panel of match referees and the PCB supplementary panel of umpires, both categories introduced for the first time to set a pathway to the apex panels, will officiate the National T20 Cup Second XI matches, which will be played at Gaddafi Stadium, Pakistan’s home of cricket, from October 1-8.