Karachi:Controversial fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar made the cut for the top category as the Pakistan Cricket Board on Tuesday awarded annual central contracts to 26 players with some surprising omissions.
Saleem Altaf, the Chief Operating Officer of the Board, said the players had been given contracts on basis of seniority and their performances in the international and domestic cricket in last one year.
Previously the contracts were awarded mainly on basis of performances.
Pacer Abdul Rauf, who performed well in the Asia Cup last year and also in domestic cricket, has been sidelined as experienced batsman Asim Kamal while others like Samiullah Niazi a left-arm pacer, has won the favour of the selectors.
Altaf said all the senior players had been kept in Category A of the contracts after the list of players was finalised by the national selection committee.
For the first time the Board has also given contracts to two uncapped players -- batsmen Azhar Ali and Umar Amin --although in the past contracts were only awarded to players who had played for Pakistan.
Altaf also said that despite the financial constraints being faced by the PCB it had not reduced the monthly retainers given to players in the new contracts.
But the Board had decided to reduce the special bonuses given to individuals and team for their performances.
"The board is facing financial crunch due to our limited international commitments last year, especially at home. So the bonuses which were given to players and the team in the previous contract have been rationalised," he said.
Under the terms of the previous contract, the Board had awarded 2.5 million rupees to senior batsman Younis Khan for his century in the final of a tri-series in Dhaka last year and one million rupees to opener Salman Butt besides a win bonus to the team.
But like last year this time also there were question marks over the selection of some players for the contracts which allow players to draw monthly salaries apart from their match and tour fees.
"Given that Pakistan is searching for a replacement for Mohammad Yousuf, one would have thought that Kamal would get the nod this time because of his past performances and because he is playing in domestic cricket.
"But the Board and selectors have surprisingly decided to reward batsmen like Umar Amin and Azhar who are yet to be tested at the top level," a former player noted.
Altaf also said the Board had upped the Test match fees to 350,000 rupees which was besides the monthly retainers given to contracted players.
"But we also expect all players to strictly adhere to the terms and conditions in the new contracts," Altaf added.
List of centrally contracted players:
Category A (250,000 rupees): Shoaib Malik, Misbah-ul Haq, Younis Khan, Danish Kaneria, Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Shahid Afridi.
Category B (175,000 rupees): Yasir Hameed, Mohammad Hafeez, Sohail Tanvir, Faisal Iqbal.
Category C (100,000 rupees): Yasir Arafat, Abdul Rehman, Fawad Alam, Rao Iftikhar, Sohail Khan, Nasir Jamshed, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Khurrum Manzoor, Saeed Ajmal, Wahab Riaz, Umar Amin, Samiullah Niazi, Azhar Ali.