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Cricket13 Mar 2021

Amazing to see my brother holding the winning trophy, says Axar Patel's sister
By Bipin Dani Team India's new spin sensation Axar Patel's married sister Shivani Patel, now living in Canada, had no interest in cricket. Leave aside watching the game on TV but she never used to discuss the game with her brother.  The time has changed now. Since her brother made debut for India in the recently concluded Test series against England, she would hardly miss to follow her brother's performance on the field.  "I was speechless and absolutely stunned when he was holding the winning trophy with both his hands and other team members around him", the sister, three years elder to Axar, speaking exclusively over the telephone from her Toronto home, said on Sunday morning (India time).  Team India captain Virat Kohli gave the honour of lifting the trophy to India's newest player. The trend started by MS Dhoni, who not only allowed the best performer to lead the side on return to the pavilion but offered the best seat in the bus and the flight.   "It was indeed a very precious moment in my life and will never ever forget it. It was very grateful to have such practice by the captain. It unites the team members well and junior players are never felt aloof in the side".   "With India's other spinner (R. Ashwin), I saw my brother grabbing wickets one after the other. It was amazing...". "I was also happy when my brother played his maiden Test and also got the Player of the Match award only when he was playing his just second Test match".  "Wow-27 wickets in three Tests...Can't believe it".  "Back home in Nadiad (Gujarat) my parents (Preeti ben and Rajesh bhai) are happy to see Axar's performance  and glad for his progress. I am proud of my brother and lucky to have a nice brother like him", she signed off, adding that Axar only named her 1-year-old son as Aansh.  In Gujarati community, the name of the new arrival is given by the aunty (father's sister).      

Cricket12 Mar 2021

Pakistan squads for South Africa and Zimbabwe announced
ABDUL JABBAR FAISAL ISLAMABAD (March 12, 2021):-The National Selection Committee headed by Mohammad Wasim on Friday finalized the national squad for upcoming South Africa and Zimbabwe tours, as national team led by Babar Azam will play seven T20Is, three ODIs and two Tests. The seven T20Is and two Tests will count towards the ICC T20I and Test Team Rankings, while the three ODIs against South Africa will be part of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League – a 13-team competition from which the top seven sides will qualify automatically for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023. The 35-member Pakistan squad will depart for Johannesburg on 26 March for the three ODIs and four T20Is against South Africa. They will then fly to Bulawayo on 17 April for three T20Is and two Tests against Zimbabwe. The side is scheduled to return on 12 May. Prior to their departure for Johannesburg, a training camp for the white-ball players will be held at the Gaddafi Stadium from 19 March. The players will arrive in Lahore on 18 March following 16 March PCR tests in their respective cities and will undergo further PCR tests on 18, 21 and 24 March. During the Lahore camp, the players will remain in a bio-secure environment. The T20I and ODI sides include 18 players each with 14 players featuring in both the formats, while the Test squad comprises 20 players with eight players figuring across all three formats. These eight players are Babar Azam (captain), Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Shaheen Shah Afridi. Squads: T20I: Babar Azam (captain) (Central Punjab), Shadab Khan (vice-captain) (Northern), Arshad Iqbal (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Asif Ali (Northern), Danish Aziz (Sindh), Faheem Ashraf (Central Punjab), Haider Ali (Northern), Haris Rauf (Northern), Hasan Ali (Central Punjab), Mohammad Hafeez (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Mohammad Hasnain (Sindh), Mohammad Nawaz (Northern), Mohammad Rizwan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Mohammad Wasim Jnr (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Sarfaraz Ahmed (Sindh), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Sharjeel Khan (Sindh) and Usman Qadir (Central Punjab) ODI: Babar Azam (captain) (Central Punjab), Shadab Khan (vice-captain) (Northern), Abdullah Shafique (Central Punjab), Danish Aziz (Sindh), Faheem Ashraf (Central Punjab), Fakhar Zaman (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Haider Ali (Northern), Haris Rauf (Northern), Hasan Ali (Central Punjab), Imam-ul-Haq (Balochistan), Mohammad Hasnain (Sindh), Mohammad Nawaz (Northern), Mohammad Rizwan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Mohammad Wasim Jnr (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Sarfaraz Ahmed (Sindh), Saud Shakeel (Sindh), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Usman Qadir (Central Punjab) Test: Babar Azam (captain) (Central Punjab), Mohammad Rizwan (vice-captain) (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Abdullah Shafique (Central Punjab), Abid Ali (Central Punjab), Azhar Ali (Central Punjab), Faheem Ashraf (Central Punjab), Fawad Alam (Sindh), Haris Rauf (Northern), Hasan Ali (Central Punjab), Imran Butt (Balochistan), Mohammad Nawaz (Northern), Nauman Ali (Northern), Sajid Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Salman Ali Agha (Southern Punjab), Sarfaraz Ahmed (Sindh), Saud Shakeel (Sindh), Shaheen Shah Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Shahnawaz Dahani (Sindh), Tabish Khan (Sindh) and Zahid Mahmood (Southern Punjab) Players Support Personnel - Mansoor Rana (Manager), Misbah-ul-Haq (head coach), Abdul Majeed (fielding coach), Cliffe Deacon (physiotherapist), Col (retd) Khalid Mahmood (security manager), Malang Ali (masseur), Raza Kitchlew (Digital and media manager), Dr Riaz Ahmed (team doctor), Shahid Aslam (assistant coach), Talha Butt (analyst), Waqar Younis (bowling coach), Yasir Malik (strength & conditioning coach) and Younis Khan (batting coach). Pakistan white-ball vice-captain Shadab Khan and T20I specialist Mohammad Hafeez have returned to the side after missing the South Africa series. In addition to the two experienced campaigners, the selectors have also recalled 31-year-old left-handed opener Sharjeel Khan to the T20I side, four years after his 15th and last T20I match. In the 2020-21 season, Sharjeel scored 233 runs in the National T20 Cup, while he was third behind Mohammad Rizwan (297 runs) and Babar Azam (258 runs) with 200 runs in five HBL Pakistan Super League 6 matches before the event was postponed. The newcomers in the white-ball squads are 20-year-old Swabi-born fast bowler Arshad Iqbal (T20I squad) and 19-year-old fast bowler Mohammad Wasim Jnr from North Waziristan (both T20I and ODI squads). Arshad has earned selection after claiming 10 T20 wickets and seven 50-over wickets in the 2020-21 season, while his Khyber Pakhtunkhwa team-mate Wasim took seven 50-over wickets and four T20 wickets in the HBL PSL 6. Wasim also played in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2020. Fast bowler Shahnawaz Dahani is the only new face in the 20-player Test squad. The 22-year-old from Larkana took 26 wickets in his debut first-class season for Sindh after picking up six wickets in the second eleven National T20 Cup. He then followed up with five wickets in the Pakistan Cup One-Day Tournament and nine wickets for Multan Sultans in the HBL PSL 6. Two changes have been made in the 20-player Test side that defeated South Africa by seven wickets and 95 runs in Karachi and Rawalpindi, respectively. Kamran Ghulam and Yasir Shah have been replaced by Shahnawaz Dahani and Zahid Mahmood. Zahid has been promoted to the Test squad after taking three wickets on his T20I debut against South Africa following the non-availability of Yasir Shah. Yasir is recovering from a left knee injury he sustained during the Rawalpindi Test against South Africa. Chief selector Mohammad Wasim: “I want to congratulate Arshad Iqbal, Mohammad Wasim Junior and Shahnawaz Dahani on their selections in the Pakistan squads. This is an acknowledgement and reward for their talent and performances in the 2020-21 domestic season. “Representing the country at a global stage is the biggest honour and achievement for any professional athlete. I am confident these selections for important tours of South Africa and Zimbabwe will inspire and motivate these budding youngsters to produce more impressive and consistent performances so that they can justify the faith and confidence exposed on them by the team management and selectors. “Sharjeel Khan has also staged a comeback in the T20I squad. Although he is exactly not where we want him to be, he is not too far away. With the form he has recently shown in the domestic T20 events, he deserves an opportunity to further improve his fitness and show he still has that ability to win big matches for Pakistan. “Yasir Shah is suffering from left knee injury and requires another six weeks to fully recover. His absence has opened a door for Zahid Mahmood, who will have a stronger case in the Test squad as compared to the T20I side following the return of Shadab Khan and presence of Usman Qadir. For a place in the Test side, Zahid will compete with Nauman Ali and Sajid Khan, who, like Zahid, were the two outstanding bowlers in the first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. “Imad Wasim has missed out on selection as we have opted to continue with Mohammad Nawaz. The all-rounder had a decent series against South Africa, taking three wickets at an economy rate of 6.10 with a brisk 11-ball 18 not out in the series finale. Nawaz deserves another opportunity to show that he belongs to white-ball cricket. “Aamer Yamin, Amad Butt and Kamran Ghulam are unlucky to miss out on selections. Aamer and Amad have paved the way for Mohammad Hafeez and Shadab Khan in the T20I squad, while Kamran has narrowly missed out to Salman Ali Agha and Saud Shakeel in the Test side. However, the three are in the larger pool of players and will get their opportunity at some stage as we have a busy year of cricket ahead of us. “The South Africa and Zimbabwe tours are extremely important for Pakistan cricket. The seven T20Is are part of our preparation for this year’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, while the South Africa ODIs are part of the Super League as we aim to qualify directly for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023. “Test cricket remains the pinnacle format and are the health-check of any cricket playing country. We have limited Tests this year with three-Test series against West Indies and two-Test series against Bangladesh planned. As such, it is imperative that we do well in Zimbabwe so that we can not only carry the winning momentum forward but also prepare for tougher series in the West Indies and Bangladesh.” Tour itinerary (Zimbabwe schedule to be announced in due course) 26 March – Departure for Johannesburg 2 April - 1st ODI; Super Sport Park, Pretoria 4 April - 2nd ODI; Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg 7 April - 3rd ODI; Super Sport Park, Pretoria 10 April - 1st T20I; Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg 12 April - 2nd T20I; Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg 14 April - 3rd T20I; Super Sport Park, Pretoria 16 April -4th T20I; Super Sport Park, Pretoria 17 April – Departure for Bulawayo 12 May – Departure for Lahore from Bulawayo

Cricket10 Mar 2021

ICC WORLD TEST CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL AT SOUTHAMPTON
SPORTS DESK ISLAMABAD (March 10, 2021):-The final of the ICC World Test Championship between India and New Zealand will be staged in a bio-secure bubble at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton. The decision, taken by the ICC Board, follows discussions with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) where a range of options were considered to ensure the inaugural final could be staged safely with the potential impact of COVID-19 minimised for all involved. In selecting The Hampshire Bowl, the ICC drew on ECB’s experience of delivering a full summer of bio-safe international cricket in 2020. The venue provides world-class playing and training facilities, giving both teams the best possible environment in which to prepare. Whilst the on-site accommodation will significantly reduce the risk around COVID-19 transmission and better protect the health and safety of everyone involved in delivering the final. Should the UK government’s phased easing of COVID-19 lockdown measures proceed as planned, it is anticipated that a limited number of fans will be allowed into the Hampshire Bowl to watch the final. Fans can register their interest for tickets here. New Zealand were the first team to make the ICC World Test Championship final and they were joined by India following their series win over England which concluded on Saturday. Geoff Allardice, ICC General Manager, Cricket said: “The ICC World Test Championship final is the pinnacle event in the Test calendar and is intended to be a week-long celebration of the oldest form of the game. A format, which rooted in tradition and featured the best that the game has to offer. I would also like to congratulate both India and New Zealand for becoming part of history by reaching the first final. “We are confident that in selecting the Hampshire Bowl, we have given ourselves the best possible chance to successfully deliver the final whilst keeping everyone involved safe and healthy and giving fans the opportunity to watch the two best Test teams in the world go head-to-head for the right to call themselves the ICC World Test Champions.  “I would like to thank the ECB for their guidance and advice to enable us to make this decision, which gives us the best possible opportunity to deliver a safe and successful World Test Championship Final.” Tom Harrison, Chief Executive Officer, England and Wales Cricket Board said: “We are delighted that the ICC has chosen to host the inaugural World Test Championship Final at The Hampshire Bowl. “As the world’s first fully bio-secure cricket venue, it has shown itself capable of delivering international matches to the highest of standards, even against the backdrop of a global pandemic. I am sure the finale of the ICC World Test Championship will be a wonderful occasion.” Rod Bransgrove, Hampshire Cricket Chairman, said: “We are honoured and delighted that The Hampshire Bowl has been appointed as the host venue for the inaugural ICC World Test Championship Final. I should like to sincerely thank the ICC for this huge demonstration of confidence in our capabilities and the ECB for its significant support of the venue as host of what will be the biggest Test Match event ever staged. “I am sure our immense pride at bringing this fixture to Hampshire will be shared by all our loyal staff, supporters and sponsors as well as our unwavering partners, Eastleigh Borough Council. We will do everything in our power to ensure that this inaugural ICC World Test Championship Final is a secure, entertaining and successful event for everyone.’’

Cricket10 Mar 2021

Former international Cricketers meet Qamar Bajwa
ABDUL JABBAR FAISAL ISLAMABAD (March 10, 2021):-Former cricketers from different nations associated with Peshawar Zalmi met with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday in his office at Rawalpindi. According to a press release, Daren Julius Garvey Sammy- former West Indian Cricketer, Hashim Mahomed Amla-Former South African Cricketer, Mohammad Akram-former Pakistani Cricketer and Javed Afridi-owner of Peshawar Zalmi franchise were the part of deligation. On this occasion, COAS appreciated the dignitaries for their contributions for bringing international cricket to Pakistan and being the ambassadors of peace. Qamar Bajwa also congratulated the cricketers on success and growth of Pakistan Super League (PSL) and hoped that it recommences early for much awaited jubilation of entire country. Visiting dignitaries also shared experience of their visits to different parts of Pakistan and seeing Pakistan as a beautiful and peaceful country.

Cricket05 Mar 2021

Bowler becomes nervous after 4-5 sixes are hit successively, says Pollard's coach
By Bipin Dani  Bowler comes under more pressure after four and five sixes are hit in his one over successively, according to David Furlonge, the coach of the West Indies captain Kieron Pollard whose six sixes in an over trumped Akila's hat-trick in a crazy chase on Thursday.   Speaking exclusively over the telephone, he said, "I think both-hitting six sixes in one over by a batsman or grabbing a hat-trick by any bowler-are incredible but as a bowler you would be under more pressure especially after the fourth and fifth six". "It was fantastic to watch from his Super 50 performance last week. I knew he would hit the spinners for some sixes but never thought six sixes, it was fantastic to watch", Furlonge, who has been Pollard's coach since he was 14 years, said.  "In a low scoring affair and the status of the game when he came in he took whatever chance Sri Lanka had of winning the game away from them in that over so he deserved the Player of the Match award" "Sri Lanka didn’t make enough runs and all that was needed would be one or two 20 run partnerships", the coach concluded. 

Cricket04 Mar 2021

Afghanistani opener advised not to lose heart on begging pair 
By Bipin Dani Afghanistani opener Abdul Malik's Test debut on Wednesday (against Zimbabwe in Abu Dhabi) was not a memorable one.  The right hand batsman, who will turn 23 next week joined the company of KR Rutherford (NZ v WI Port-of-Spain 1985), Saeed Anwar (Pak v WI Faisalabad 1990), DP Viljoen (Zim v Pak Bulawayo 1998) and R Chandrika (WI v Aus Kingston 2015) and became the 5th player to beg a "pair" on Test debut as opener.  "I can definitely relate to what he is feeling. I have no doubt he has worked extremely hard to gain selection and would probably be feeling that he has let his team down and is not good enough to play at Test level", the former left-hand batsman, Dirk Viljoen, speaking exclusively over the telephone from Zimbabwe, said.  The victim further adds : "My advice to him is to trust the system. Know that he was selected cause the selectors believe in him. The result today is part of being a mature cricketer. It takes time. Keep working hard and learn from this experience. It will make you stronger mentally. He will get more chances to showcase his skills".  "Unfortunately as batsmen, people record when you get a pair. But if a Test bowler on debut bowled in 2 innings and didn't get a wicket, is that recorded as a pair?  No it is not", he further added.   

Cricket04 Mar 2021

Cindy Butts Appointed as Chair of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket
SPORTS DESK ISLAMABAD (March 4, 2021):-The Board of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has taken a significant step toward ensuring cricket is a game for everyone with the appointment of Cindy Butts to establish and chair the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket, which will examine issues relating to race and equity in the game. Butts has extensive experience in senior roles spanning governance, inclusion and equity across the justice/policing sectors and Government. Her current roles include serving as a lay member of the House of Lords Conduct Committee, a lay member of the Speaker’s Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority and as Panel Chair for the Judicial Appointments Commission. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Kick It Out, the organisation for equality and inclusion in English football. Previously, she held roles as the Deputy Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority and as a Commissioner at the Criminal Cases Review Commission. As Chair, Butts will work with the ECB Board to finalise the terms of reference for the Commission. She will lead the process to appoint a number of independent Commissioners who will bring further diversity of thought, background and experience to the Commission, providing constructive input and challenge to the ECB and the wider game. The Commission, whose formation was announced in November 2020, will independently gather and assess the evidence of inequalities and discrimination of all forms within cricket and identify the actions the ECB will need to take to tackle these issues. It is known as the Commission for Equity in Cricket, in recognition that different groups of people face different access issues or barriers. The Commission will act with complete independence, examining any evidence it deems relevant and making the recommendations it considers necessary. The Board’s engagement with the Commission will be led by the ECB’s Senior Independent Director, Brenda Trenowden, who is driving the Board’s work in the area of equality, diversity and inclusion. Ian Watmore, Chair of the ECB, said: “The creation of the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket is an important step in our ambition to make cricket a game for everyone. Cindy is extremely well-qualified to lead this work and will bring empathy, rigour and practical experience to the deliberations and recommendations of the Commission.” Cindy Butts said: “I’m excited to be bringing together my lifelong love of cricket with my passion for equity and inclusion, to lead this work for the ECB. Over the coming months we will be looking to hear from a wide range of people who share a love of cricket, whether as spectators, players, coaches or administrators both present and past. “While it’s important we preserve the best of cricket’s traditions, it is also important we identify ways it can evolve and innovate to attract and welcome diverse communities who can make an impact in all areas and at all levels of the game. “I am committed to ensuring that cricket has a bright future in this country.” Brenda Trenowden CBE, Senior Independent Director of the ECB Board, added: “Promoting equity, diversity and inclusion across the game is critical to the success of our game-wide strategy, Inspiring Generations, and our purpose of connecting communities through cricket. “Whilst we have taken a number of positive steps forward over recent years, we recognise that there is still a lot of work to do in this area. The Commission will play a valuable role in helping us to really listen and understand the reality of the inclusion challenges in the game, so that we can focus our efforts to ensure that more people can say that cricket is a game for me.”

Cricket04 Mar 2021

HBL PSL 6 postponed
HAMMAD AHMED KAYANI KARACHI (March 4, 2021):-Following a meeting with the team owners and considering the health and wellbeing of all participants is paramount, the Pakistan Cricket Board has decided to postpone the HBL Pakistan Super League 6 with immediate effect. The decision was made after seven cases were reported in the competition, which had started on 20 February. The PCB, as an immediate step, will focus on the safe and secure passage of all participants, and arrange repeat PCR tests, vaccines and isolation facilities to the six participating sides. PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan, Director – Commercial and Babar Hamid, will hold a media conference at the National Stadium at 3pm to provide further updates. Due to limited space in the press conference room, TV camerapersons are not allowed and the press conference will be live-streamed on the PCB YouTube Channel.

Cricket25 Feb 2021

Rizwan and Fawad promoted to Category A and C, respectively
SPORTS REPORT LAHORE (February 24, 2020):-PCB Test Cricketer of the year 2020, Mohammad Rizwan, has been promoted to Category A of the PCB’s Central Contract List 2020-21 following stellar performances across all formats in the ongoing season. In the elite category, the 28-year-old has now joined Pakistan captain Babar Azam, former captain Azhar Ali and star fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi. Since the current central contracts were announced on 13 May 2020, Rizwan is Pakistan’s leading run-scorer in Tests with 529 runs in seven matches at an average of 52.90, while he is overall the third leading run-scorer in T20Is with 325 runs at an average of 65 and strike-rate of just under 139. In the three ODIs against Zimbabwe, he scored 25 runs. Behind the wickets, Rizwan has accounted for 16 batsmen in Tests, three in ODIs and eight in T20Is in the season during which Pakistan played international cricket against England, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and South Africa. Their upcoming assignments are in South Africa and Zimbabwe. As part of its policy to acknowledge, incentivise and reward high-performing cricketers, the PCB has also elevated Fawad Alam from A+ domestic contract category to Category C of the PCB Central Contract List 2020-21, while it also offered Category C contract to T20I specialist Mohammad Hafeez, which he politely turned down. Fawad Alam scored centuries against New Zealand and South Africa, and has now aggregated 320 runs in 11 innings of six Tests. His 102 against New Zealand in the Boxing Day Test earned him the PCB Individual Performance of 2020 award. PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan: “I want to congratulate Rizwan and Fawad for earning well-deserved and well-earned promotions. This is a reward for their hard work and high-quality performances during the difficult and challenging bio-secure environments that tested their determination, resolve, commitment, mental toughness and physical fitness to the limits. “The decision to promote the players was made during a meeting with the Chair of the Selection Committee, Muhammad Wasim, while we were reviewing player performances in the 2020-21 season and discussing the upcoming commitments. “It was agreed during the meeting that three players were the most deserving and outstanding performers in the season to date and, as such, they needed to be rewarded now instead of waiting for the time when PCB Central Contract List for 2021-22 will be reviewed and announced. “However, Mohammad Hafeez declined the reward and while I am disappointed, I fully respect his decision. He wants to wait for the PCB Central Contract 2021-22 list, which he is fully entitled to. Hafeez has been one of our star performers of the season and we hope he will carry the form and momentum to Africa. “I am sure this merit and performance-based decision will once again send out a loud and clear message to all professional cricketers that the PCB will not only recognise, appreciate and acknowledge their performances and achievements, but will also reward them so that they can strive to do better next time.” Updated PCB Men’s Central Contract List for 2020-21: Category A - Azhar Ali (Central Punjab), Babar Azam (Central Punjab), Mohammad Rizwan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Shaheen Shah Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) Category B - Abid Ali (Central Punjab), Asad Shafiq (Sindh), Haris Sohail (Balochistan), Mohammad Abbas (Southern Punjab), Sarfaraz Ahmed (Sindh), Shadab Khan (Northern), Shan Masood (Southern Punjab) and Yasir Shah (Balochistan) Category C - Fakhar Zaman (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Fawad Alam (Sindh), Iftikhar Ahmed (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Imad Wasim (Northern), Imam-ul-Haq (Balochistan), Naseem Shah (Central Punjab) and Usman Shinwari (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) Emerging Players’ Category - Haider Ali (Northern), Haris Rauf (Northern) and Mohammad Hasnain (Sindh)

Cricket24 Feb 2021

Mani delighted with successful completion of High Performance events
Hammad Ahmed Kayani KARACH (February 24, 2021):-Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Ehsan Mani has praised the High Performance department for leading the successful completion of their events calendar for the 2020-21 season, which also contributed in the staging of international cricket, hosting the ongoing HBL Pakistan Super League 2021 and achieving commercial targets during the unprecedented, highly challenging, and difficult Covid-19 pandemic. Mani, who also chairs the ICC’s influential Finance and Commercial Affairs Committee, highlighted the economic activity that took place due to domestic cricket and the opportunities that were created for budding youngsters to grow, develop and make themselves available for bigger challenges. The High Performance department’s 2020-21 domestic events had started on 30 September 2020 with the First XI National T20 Cup and concluded with the final of the PCB U16 National One-Day Tournament on 23 February in Multan and Rawalpindi, respectively. In the period from 30 September to 23 February, the revamped and restructured High Performance department, under a fresh and proactive leadership planned and, with the help of all the support departments, delivered nine successful tournaments that comprised a total of 220 matches. The 220 age-group to first-class matches were in addition to the High Performance department’s other initiatives, including assessment, evaluation and appointments of local coaches and match officials, preparation of a national cricket framework strategy, holding of countrywide coaching clinics, nationwide open trials for Under-19 and Under-16 events, rehabilitation programmes and the recently-concluded Pakistan Under-19 camp for next year’s ICC U19 Cricket World Cup West Indies 2022. By staging an extended domestic cricket, the High Performance department created employment opportunities for domestic contracted cricketers who featured through the season are expected to earn between PKR2.5million and PKR3.8million through contracts, daily allowances and match fees. Similarly, domestic cricket also generated economic activity as sports equipment and clothing manufacturers, travel and hotel industries continued to operate on a business-as-usual basis during a time when the world saw major organisations opting for layoffs or salary cuts. In the hotel industry alone, the PCB used 23,316 bed nights across seven luxury hotels during the five-month period where the players and match officials were lodged for the First and Second XI National T20 and Pakistan Cup, three and four-day Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, PCB National U19 three-day and one-day tournaments, and PCB U16 National One-Day Tournament. Ehsan Mani said: “This is a monumental achievement by the High Performance department to successfully deliver 220 matches across nine events. When presentation on the 2020-21 domestic season was made in September, it looked like an over-ambitious and a nearly impossible objective because of all the challenges and difficulties that were posed by the evolving and uncertain Covid-19 pandemic. “But the cricket operations, medical teams, security, finance, HR and marketing departments and the logistics wings of the PCB got together to ensure High Performance department’s targets of successfully delivering a complete 2020-21 season were achieved. This is a matter of great pride for the PCB that has significantly enhanced its image and profile globally. “The leadership provided by the High Performance department, which was excellently and thoroughly supported by all the players and match officials during the Covid-19 pandemic, truly reflected the nation’s passion for this great game and rightly summed up the season’s #HarHaalMainCricket hashtag. “Through a strategic marketing plan, that included 55 broadcast matches and aggressive new media coverage that was supported by the traditional media, the PCB demonstrated to the world that Pakistan was capable of creating a safe and healthy environment for cricket. This played a supporting role in convincing Zimbabwe and South Africa to play international cricket in Pakistan and also gave the confidence and encouragement to more than 75 foreign players and coaches to participate in the ongoing HBL Pakistan Super League 2021. “Through these events, the PCB was also able to exploit its commercial programme and partner with leading sport networks besides attracting prestigious and world renowned multinational companies. The PCB, for the first time in its history, is on the verge of formally announcing the appointments of Principal Sponsors for the six Cricket Associations, which is a testament to the attractive brand our revamped domestic cricket has become within two years. All the revenues generated from these partnerships will be reinvested into cricket so that the PCB can provide even better opportunities and facilities to our talented cricketers in the coming seasons. “The domestic season also created earning opportunities for our cricketers and match officials, while also enabling the economic wheel across various industries to continue to move at a time when major organisations either went for layoffs or pay-cuts. “The quality of the domestic events was from the top draw. During the five-month period, the competitions provided uninterrupted, exciting and thrilling cricket that was not only enjoyed by all the participants but also attracted new fans, who followed the proceedings on our various digital platforms in the absence of the crowds, and kept the interest and involvement of the local media alive. “Apart from the PCB staff, I will like to congratulate and thank all the players, player support personnel and match officials who stayed away from their families and friends to spent extended periods in bio-secure bubbles. The PCB appreciates and acknowledges their sacrifices and hopes the 2021-22 season will not test all these athletes like the 2020-21 season.”