Karachi: Experienced all-rounder Shoaib Malik was on Saturday given a category 'A' contract by the Pakistan Cricket Board, even as seasoned off-spinner Saeed Ajmal was demoted in the new list of central contracts announced for 27 players.
Under the new terms of the contracts former skipper Malik has been promoted to the top category alongwith current captains Misbah-ul-Haq (Test), Azhar Ali (ODI) and Shahid Afridi (T20), while two more ex-captains Younis Khan and Muhammad Hafeez are also in the same group.
While awarding the new contracts, it may seem that Ajmal, who has been dropped to category 'B', has been given a raw deal but in reality the off-spinner has been given a new lease of life after speculations were rife that he will be dropped from the contract list.
The veteran spinner has struggled to make a mark since modifying his bowling action since last year. The off-spinner was suspended from bowling due to an illegal action in September 2014 by the ICC.
The PCB also announced that the monthly retainers as well match fees had been increased across the board and the system of awarding win bonuses for matches and series restored.
"The players will also be given individual performance incentives," the PCB said in a statement without elaborating the financial details.
The central contracts have been awarded from July 2015 to June 31, 2016 but under an agreement reached between the players and the board. The clauses of the central contracts will now remain unchanged for the next three years with a 10 percent increase in monthly retainers in all categories in 2016/17 and 2017/18 and a 10 percent increase in Test match fees and five percent in ODI fees in 2017.
The PCB however made it clear that while the financial details of the contracts will remain unchanged for the next three years fresh contracts would be awarded every year on basis of performances and fitness of players.
The contracts were finalised after detailed negotiations between the representatives of the players and board officials since July as the board had already decided to extend the old contracts centrals by six months this year due to the World Cup and other issues.
Under the terms of the contract it has been decided that in future all former and current captains, if they are awarded a contract, will be placed in category A in which after a pay hike a monthly retainer of more than half a million is now guaranteed for the players.
Central Contracts 2015-16 Category 'A': Azhar Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Younis Khan.
Category 'B': Ahmed Shehzad, Asad Shafiq, Junaid Khan, Rahat Ali, Saeed Ajmal, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah.
Category 'C': Anwar Ali, Fawad Alam, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Imran, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Rizwan, Shaan Masood, Umar Akmal.
Category 'D': Babar Azam, Sami Aslam, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Amin, Zulfiqar Babar.