Karachi: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Saturday awarded former captains Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik central contracts, which saw players given a 25-per cent hike in their monthly salaries. Afridi's contract was suspended after he fell out with the former PCB chairman Ijaz Butt, who replaced him as one-day captain in May last year.
After he was sacked, the 32-year-old announced his retirement from international cricket, which prompted the PCB to suspended his contract. Afridi returned to international cricket after Butt was replaced by Zaka Ashraf as PCB chairman in October last year. The announcement means that Afridi has regained his place in the 'A' category of the contracts.
Pakistan's one-day and Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq, Younis Khan, Twenty20 captain Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal and Abdul Rehman also retained their places in the 'A' category and will receive a monthly salary of 313,000 rupees ($3,400) per month. Umar Akmal was elevated from 'B' to the 'A' grade.
The PCB said the increase will help lift the morale of the players before next month's tour of Sri Lanka. "There are increased salaries after three years with a hope that it will be a morale booster for the players," said a PCB statement.
Malik, however, was placed in the 'B' category along with Taufiq Umar, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Junaid Khan and Aizaz Cheema. The players in the 'B' category will get a monthly salary of 218,000 rupees.
Malik, 29, was left out of the central contracts last year as he was under investigation by a PCB committee tasked with scrutinising players in the wake of the 2010 spot-fixing scandal. The scandal, related to charges of delivering deliberate no-balls for money, ended in lengthy bans and jail terms for Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer.
Wicket-keepers Sarfraz Ahmed and Adnan Akmal along with Hammad Azam, Wahab Riaz, Imran Farhat, Faisal Iqbal and Nasir Jamshed were placed in the 'C' category, with players in that category getting 130,000 rupees per month.
The PCB has also given 21 players a monthly stipend. "We have also given stipends to those players who have distinguished themselves with consistent performances in the domestic circuit with monthly stipends as an encouragement for them," said the PCB.
There is also an increase of 10 per cent in match fees for all the players, which is separate to the monthly salaries.