Karachi: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is facing stiff resistance from players and its affiliated departments and regions over a proposed domestic structure which is likely to be implemented this year.
The resistance has come in the form of dozens of players presently playing in the United Kingdom for clubs in different leagues, protesting the timing of the new domestic season.
Some Departments are even pondering going to court against the new structure.
The PCB had at its last General Body announced a new domestic structure with emphasis on less teams in the premier first class competition, the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
The biggest change brought about the by the Board is that now while the top six departments and six regions will directly qualify for the Quaid Trophy two departmental teams and two regions will qualify after appearing in a qualifying non-first class three day matches tournament for which the Board has announced dates.
According to the schedule, the qualifying tournament will begin from August 1, something unheard of in Pakistan's domestic season as it normally starts in mid September with the first class events.
Many of the players presently employed on contracts in England have complained if they are forced to return home to play in the qualifying event their employers/clubs will not offer them contracts from next year.
"It is understandable because if we return midway obviously these clubs are not going to be happy and they will look for overseas professionals from other countries which will badly affect our livelihood," one player said.
He said the English season ended around mid-September. "If we lose this chance to earn abroad how will we manage because there is no real money for domestic players in Pakistan," another player said.
A senior official of a department said there had been discussions on going to court to get a stay order against the implementation of the new domestic structure.
"Last year when they implemented a new structure they said it would be tried out for three years now all of a sudden they have decided to change it this year. If our teams can't play in the main first class event how will we justify employing top players to our institutions and spending so much funds on the cricket team. We can't do that just for a non-first class event," he complained.
Last year in the domestic first class tournament around 24 teams took part including departments and regions. If the PCB goes ahead with its new domestic structure it would mean top departmental teams like PIA, State Bank, KRL, ZTBL, Sui Southern Gas, United Bank, who employ top players on high salaries have to appear in a non-first class qualifying tournament from which only two of them can qualify for the first class Quaid Trophy.
Only last month Sui Southern hired top players like Muhammad Aamir, Umar Amin, Babar Azam, Zafar Gohar on high salaries.
PCB Sources say Chairman, Shaharyar Khan was convinced on reducing number of teams in the domestic first class season. For long former players and experts have blamed Pakistan's domestic structure for the inconsistencies of the national squad and even Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq broached on the issue at the end of the second Test in Sri Lanka where his team lost to the hosts last week.
Pakistan's former captain, Rashid Latif has also written to the PCB asking them to reconsider their decision to change the domestic structure.
The PCB is also planning to offer regional teams to interested sponsors, individuals and companies on the lines of the IPL.