Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan defended his decision to change the domestic cricket structure in the country, insisting that after initial teething problems the new system will produce world-class talent.
Addressing officials of the Pakistan Cricket Board, the Pakistan Television Corporation and information ministry officials, Imran said that Pakistan cricket had only done well because of its immense raw talent despite a poor cricket system.
"I have convinced with great difficulty Misbah, Hafeez and Azhar (who were among the attendees) that the new cricket structure must be allowed to grow and become strong," said Imran, the 1992 World Cup-winning captain.
Head coach and chief selector, Misbah-ul-Haq and senior players, Hafeez and Azhar met with the Prime Minister on Wednesday in Islamabad along with PCB Chairman, Ehsan Mani and CEO Wasim Khan to discuss the domestic cricket system.
Misbah, Hafeez and Azhar had requested to meet with the PM. They had earlier said that the new system which has done away with departmental cricket had left many cricketers jobless and was not cut out for the Pakistan cricket culture.
"I told them that every new system had its teething problems and it takes some time but I can assure you once it is established it will ensure the raw talent we have in cricket will come through polished and groomed for international cricket," Imran said.
Under the new domestic cricket structure introduced last year by the PCB on the directives of the PM, only six provincial teams now compete in first-class cricket and other ODI and T20 tournaments and departmental teams have been scrapped from the system.
Imran said he wants to see Pakistan cricket belong where it should belong once its talent is properly groomed and there is a system to ensure only quality players come forward.
"I am hopeful that we will be able in a position to field a very strong team for the next World Cup and do well in it thanks to this new system," he said.
Imran had said in the past that Pakistan had a domestic cricket system which didn't exist anywhere in the world.
"Despite this system we won because of the immense raw talent we have. Nowhere does a player graduate straight into the national team from junior or club level cricket."
PCB announces stringent COVID-19 protocols ahead of domestic season
The Pakistan Cricket Board announced stringent COVID-19 protocols for the 2020/21 domestic season which kicks off later this month with the National T20 Championship.
The PCB said squad members, match officials, duty doctors and security managers will be placed in bio-secure zones from the beginning of the season to ensure health and safety of players, officials and all other stakeholders.
All of them will be required to have two negative COVID-19 results before joining the bio-secure zone, which is in line with the practices carried out at present in international cricket.
According to PCB, members of the First XI and Second XI provincial squads are required to submit the results of their first COVID-19 test by September 16 and 18 respectively.
The PCB will reimburse the cost of the first test and conduct all following tests during the course of the season.
Those returning negative results will be invited to PCB designated central stations, where they will undergo second COVID-19 test under the supervision of the Board medical team. The second test of the First XI and Second XI squads will be conducted on September 18 and 21 respectively.
While travelling to the central stations, the players and support staff personnel will not be allowed to use public transportation, except for air travel. Upon their arrival at the central stations, they will undergo a disinfection process and will be given separate accommodation.
The Board said those who return positive in the tests conducted at the central stations will be isolated for five days and tested twice. If these players or support staff personnel continue to test positive, they would have to undergo a two-week self-isolation and return two negative results before their integration in the bio-secure zone.
It said the players who toured England for three Tests and three T20Is will travel to Multan on September 23 and after their second negative test will join their respective domestic teams on September 25 as they have been granted a period of relaxation following their 10-week-long tour.