| Chandigarh |
Updated: July 28, 2020 12:57:38 am
Eight months after the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) decided to offer central contracts to 30 players for the domestic season of 2020-2021 at its apex council meeting in November last year, the association has finalised a list of the 30 players including women cricketers. The list will be approved in the apex council meeting of the association to be held on August 8, post which it will be sent to BCCI for approval.
Last year, the Uttarakhand Cricket Association had announced its decision to offer central contracts to its players and Punjab too had decided to offer the same. According to the list, players like Punjab captain Mandeep Singh, Siddharth Kaul, Gurkeerat Mann, Sandeep Sharma, Shubman Gill, Anmol Malhotra and Indian women cricketers Harmanpreet Kaur and Taniya Bhatia have been included in category ‘A’, which will offer an amount of Rs 8 lakh under the contract system termed as scholarship scheme. Kaur, Bhatia and Jasia Akhtar are the three women cricketers in the 30-member list which includes ten cricketers in category ‘B’ which offers Rs 6 lakh per annum and category ‘C’ which has U-19 cricketers being offered Rs 10,000 per month.
“We had taken the decision to implement the contract system for Punjab players last November and had formed a sub-committee to prepare the list and other formalities. The list has been finalised and according to our policy, all players who have played for India including two women cricketers Harmanpreet Kaur and Taniya Bhatia have been offered category ‘A’. Players like Mandeep, Siddharth, Sandeep, Gurkeerat and Shubman too have played for India. Youngster Aanmol Malhotra, who was the find of last season, too has been included in category ‘A’. Another women cricketer Jasia Akhtar has been included in Category ‘B’. Due to the curtailed season due to Covid, all this will be based on pro rata basis,” said Puneet Bali, secretary, Punjab Cricket Association.
While Punjab had missed the quarter-final berth in the Ranji trophy last year by a whisker, state cricketers have not competed in any competition since March, when the lockdown began. While players have started fitness and training sessions at their homes and also some grounds, the IS Bindra PCA Stadium at Mohali is still closed for training. PCA is also waiting directions and guidelines from Punjab government regarding training to be open at the stadium.
“The Covid situation has been going on since the last four months and we have been monitoring their fitness training through online training apart from mental conditioning. As of now, it seems that the 2020-2021 domestic season will be a curtailed season but whenever it happens, we want our players to be ready. We have also taken the decision to renovate the IS Bindra International Stadium as we plan to build it as an international academy after the new stadium at Mullanpur is completed. We have started work in the indoor practice area and other work too shall start soon. We will also receive guidelines about cricket training from Punjab government and will start the training once it is allowed,” added Bali.
Asked about the possibility of holding a practice camp for any IPL team if the Punjab government permits, in case IPL is held in India or UAE, Bali said PCA is open to the idea. “We are open to the any team using our stadium for practice camp depending on Punjab government permission. The work at the new stadium at Mullanpur was slowed due to Covid and we are now behind by 9-12 months of the schedule,” he added.
Former Punjab captain Pankaj Dharmani sees this initiative by PCA as an encouraging step for the state’s cricketers. “BCCI had started this system for the Indian team and now it is good to see state teams doing the same. It will take Punjab cricket forward as it will offer financial security to players. Apart from that, it will also encourage junior cricketers to aim for categories ‘A’ and ‘B’ and help cricketers become even more competitive,” said Dharmani.
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