PCB mulling including foreign players in Pakistan’s first-class cricket

PCB mulling including foreign players in Pakistan’s first-class cricket

Last year, their cricket board reduced the number of teams in first-class cricket from 16 to six.

Ehsan Mani
Ehsan Mani. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ehsan Mani, on Wednesday, July 22, said that he wants a few overseas cricketers to take part in the country’s first-class cricket. The longest format in Pakistan doesn’t look to be in great shape as the national team is languishing seventh in the ICC rankings.

The Test team is currently in England for a three-match series, which is scheduled to get underway on August 5 at the Old Trafford in Manchester. Mani understands that the players need to be rubbing shoulders with international cricketers, but also said that it won’t be taking place overnight.

We are working to take Pakistan’s first-class cricket to a different level

“One of the things we are going to do with our first-class cricket is to encourage one or two overseas players to come and play,” Mani was quoted as saying on a podcast with Peter Oborne and Richard Heller.

“It is great for our players to be playing with the international players and that’s not going to happen overnight. We are working to take our first-class cricket to a complete different level and have it so competitive and so attractive for overseas players that they wish and keen to be part of it,” Mani said.

Back in 2019, the PCB brought about some changes in their first-class setup, reducing the number of teams from 16 to six. The decision was taken to improve the quality of cricket in the country. The 16 regions were absorbed into associations named, Northern Cricket Association, Sindh, Central Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.

“I realised what happening was that the players, who played for the departments in first-class cricket, went and played Grade-II cricket for the regions. So, they were blocking the pathway for youngsters, who come through Grade-II cricket into the first-class game,” Mani added.

The 2019-20 edition of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy took place among six teams. The final of the tournament was a pretty one-sided one as Central Punjab beat Northern by an innings and 16 runs.

As far as Pakistan is concerned, the Test team, led by Azhar Ali, is currently fifth in the points table of the ICC World Test Championship with 140 points.