Pakistan fast bowlers Amir, Riaz lose central contracts


Mohammad Amir (Photo by Philip Brown/Getty Images)
Mohammad Amir (Photo by Philip Brown/Getty Images)

Pakistan fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz have lost their central contracts after the pair decided to focus on white-ball cricket, officials said Wednesday, as selectors promote younger pacemen.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) also confirmed Azhar Ali as Test captain and Babar Azam as one-day and Twenty20 captain for the upcoming season starting in July.

Eighteen players in three categories received central contracts guaranteeing their monthly salaries and benefits for 12 months.

The exclusion of Amir and Riaz comes as young fast bowlers are given a chance, with 17-year-old pace sensation Naseem Shah included in the “C” category for the first time.

Naseem became the youngest Test bowler in history to take a five-wicket haul in an innings and a hat-trick in consecutive Tests against Sri Lanka (December 2019) and Bangladesh (February 2020) in Karachi and Rawalpindi.

Another young pacer Shaheen Shah was bumped up to the “A” group after he featured in all three formats for Pakistan in the past 12 months.

“The selectors have made the tough decisions to leave out Amir and Wahab but considering Amir and Wahab decided to focus on white-ball cricket this was the right move,” chief selector and head coach Misbah-ul-Haq said.

The move by the PCB comes after Amir announced his retirement from Test cricket at the age of 28, and after Riaz took an indefinite break from Tests to focus on Twenty20 matches.

Former skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed and leg-spinner Yasir Shah were demoted from “A” to “B” category after lacklustre performances, while injured fast bowler Hasan Ali also lost his contract.

Pakistan is scheduled to play nine Tests, six one-day internationals and 20 T20Is, besides the Asia Cup and the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2020, but that will depend on the coronavirus outbreak.

The PCB has also created a new Emerging Players’ Category. The first inductees are Haider Ali and fast bowlers Haris Rauf and Mohammad Hasnain.

PCB Men’s Central Contract List for 2020-21:

Category A: Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Shaheen Shah Afridi

Category B: Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah

Category C: Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Imam-ul-Haq, Naseem Shah, Usman Shinwari

Emerging Players’ Category: Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain.