The format and structure of Pakistan’s domestic system will undergo yet another overhaul, four years on from the last one, with an additional first-class competition and departmental sides returning to the domestic fold.
The departmental teams will, however, not play the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy alongside the regional teams, as was the case in the past. Eight departmental teams will instead play a separate tournament, named the President’s Trophy, after the conclusion of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. The number of participating teams in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy has been increased from six to eight. Provincial teams have been done away with, and cities have made a return to the competition.
The Quaid-e-Azam Trophy will run from September 10 to October 26, while the President’s Cup will start on December 15 to January 30. A further ten regional teams will play the second division of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, named the Hanif Mohammad Trophy, which will run concurrently with the main Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
The eight teams that will play the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy are Peshawar, Karachi Whites, Lahore Blues, Rawalpindi, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Multan, Lahore Whites and Faisalabad.
The departmental teams that will take part in the President’s Cup are Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited, Sui Southern Gas Company, Water and Power Development Authority, Khan Research Laboratories, Pakistan Television, National Bank of Pakistan, and State Bank, with an eighth to be confirmed later. Both the tournaments will comprise a league stage and a final, which the top two teams will play.
Much of the revamp has not come as a surprise.
But the separation of regional and departmental tournaments means several players could feature for a regional as well as a departmental side. It likely also means that with the significantly superior financial muscle the departments possess, that the President’s Cup will become the bigger first-class competition in Pakistan, supplanting the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
“This structure provides a level playing field to regions and departments as they will have the best cricket talent available to them,” director of domestic cricket operations Junaid Zia, who acknowledged the inputs from Misbah-ul-Haq and Mohammad Hafeez of the PCB’s cricket technical committee, said. “The separation of regions and departments in different tournaments also provides enhance earning opportunities for cricketers with separate contracts and more matches.”
The revamp comes during a season when Pakistan have no home Test matches scheduled at all, with a three-match series in Australia the only Test cricket for Pakistan in the next 12 months.
There was no mention from the PCB about the release of a schedule or structure for women’s cricket. ESPNcricinfo was told it would be announced separately.