In a significant decision aimed to encourage players to hone and perfect their skills first, Punjab Cricket Association has decided not to give NOC (No objection certificate) to any player registered with the PCA under the age of 21 years to play in T20 games for any club/team/institution, including the cash-rich IPL.
The decision was taken at the Administrative Committee meeting of the PCA at Mohali on Sunday chaired by PCA President I S Bindra.
The Administrative Committee of PCA had met to take stock of the performance of Punjab's senior and junior teams in the domestic national tournaments.
M P Pandove, Secretary PCA and former member of the Senior National Committee of the BCCI, set the ball rolling by pointing out that the shortest version of the game was distracting players from acquiring skills necessary for playing in the longer version of the game - five and four day matches.
"The shortest version of the game being played by the junior players is causing this damage," said Pandove.
However, PCA committee felt that there can be exceptional and extraordinary talents who mature early. In order to not deny opportunities to such players, exceptions would only be made, but only for contracted players of the BCCI, even if they are below the age of 21.
At the moment, there are only three contracted players from the State - Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and Rahul Sharma, all of whom are over 21 years of age.
Asked if this step would invite criticism from different quarters, Pandove told PTI on Monday, "Look, we are the first Association to take this step in the interest of players, many of whom I know will not like it. We strongly felt that 17-21 years are formative years for any player and there should be no distraction. The step which we have taken is in the larger interest of players and country's cricket as a whole."
Pandove made it clear that any player defying the latest guideline would force PCA into taking very serious view of the matter. The decision of the Administrative Committee will be put in the next Executive Committee meeting for ratification, he informed.
He said the members discussed the matter and after various view points that were put forth, the Committee agreed with the observations made by him and took a decision that youngsters under PCA should be groomed and trained for playing in longer version for performing creditably at the senior level.
"It was therefore thought that the period of four years from the age of 17 to 21 is very crucial for honing the basic cricketing skills, building up stamina and endurance, so important for a first class performer.
"It was felt that the exposure to the shortest version of the game was dangerous for the upcoming youngsters aiming to play in the longer version of the game and representing the state and country in the bilateral tours," PCA spokesman, Sushil Kapoor said on Monday.
Kapoor said that the members of the committee, after an in-depth discussion, came to the conclusion that the Punjab teams at the junior age tournaments like U-16, 19 and 22 were performing creditably over the years while the senior Ranji Trophy team had failed to deliver and achieve the optimum results.
"The performance at junior level under all age groups has been very encouraging for the last 5-6 years but the performance at the senior level has failed to enthuse, even though the talent for the senior level has been coming through the junior age groups," he said.
PCA has decided to make it mandatory for all players registered with it and its affiliated units to adhere to the guidelines, he added.