Karachi: Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ehsan Mani has praised the High Performance department for leading the successful completion of their events calendar for the 2020-21 season, which also contributed in the staging of international cricket, hosting the ongoing HBL Pakistan Super League 2021 and achieving commercial targets during the unprecedented, highly challenging, and difficult Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Mani, who also chairs the ICC’s influential Finance and Commercial Affairs Committee, highlighted the economic activity that took place due to domestic cricket and the opportunities that were created for budding youngsters to grow, develop and make themselves available for bigger challenges.
The High Performance department’s 2020-21 domestic events had started on 30 September 2020 with the First XI National T20 Cup and concluded with the final of the PCB U16 National One-Day Tournament on 23 February in Multan and Rawalpindi, respectively.
In the period from 30 September to 23 February, the revamped and restructured High Performance department, under a fresh and proactive leadership planned and, with the help of all the support departments, delivered nine successful tournaments that comprised a total of 220 matches.
The 220 age-group to first-class matches were in addition to the High Performance department’s other initiatives, including assessment, evaluation and appointments of local coaches and match officials, preparation of a national cricket framework strategy, holding of countrywide coaching clinics, nationwide open trials for U19 and U16 events, rehabilitation programmes and the recently-concluded Pakistan U19 camp for next year’s ICC U19 Cricket World Cup West Indies 2022.
By staging an extended domestic cricket, the High Performance department created employment opportunities for domestic contracted cricketers who featured through the season are expected to earn between PKR2.5million and PKR3.8million through contracts, daily allowances and match fees.
Similarly, domestic cricket also generated economic activity as sports equipment and clothing manufacturers, travel and hotel industries continued to operate on a business-as-usual basis during a time when the world saw major organisations opting for layoffs or salary cuts.
In the hotel industry alone, the PCB used 23,316 bed nights across seven luxury hotels during the five-month period where the players and match officials were lodged for the First and Second XI National T20 and Pakistan Cup, three and four-day Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, PCB National U19 three-day and one-day tournaments, and PCB U16 National One-Day Tournament.
Ehsan Mani said: “This is a monumental achievement by the High Performance department to successfully deliver 220 matches across nine events. When presentation on the 2020-21 domestic season was made in September, it looked like an over-ambitious and a nearly impossible objective because of all the challenges and difficulties that were posed by the evolving and uncertain Covid-19 pandemic.
“But the cricket operations, medical teams, security, finance, HR and marketing departments and the logistics wings of the PCB got together to ensure High Performance department’s targets of successfully delivering a complete 2020-21 season were achieved. This is a matter of great pride for the PCB that has significantly enhanced its image and profile globally.
“The leadership provided by the High Performance department, which was excellently and thoroughly supported by all the players and match officials during the Covid-19 pandemic, truly reflected the nation’s passion for this great game and rightly summed up the season’s #HarHaalMainCricket hashtag.
“Through a strategic marketing plan, that included 55 broadcast matches and aggressive new media coverage that was supported by the traditional media, the PCB demonstrated to the world that Pakistan was capable of creating a safe and healthy environment for cricket. This played a supporting role in convincing Zimbabwe and South Africa to play international cricket in Pakistan and also gave the confidence and encouragement to more than 75 foreign players and coaches to participate in the ongoing HBL Pakistan Super League 2021.
“Through these events, the PCB was also able to exploit its commercial programme and partner with leading sport networks besides attracting prestigious and world renowned multinational companies. The PCB, for the first time in its history, is on the verge of formally announcing the appointments of Principal Sponsors for the six Cricket Associations, which is a testament to the attractive brand our revamped domestic cricket has become within two years. All the revenues generated from these partnerships will be reinvested into cricket so that the PCB can provide even better opportunities and facilities to our talented cricketers in the coming seasons.
“The domestic season also created earning opportunities for our cricketers and match officials, while also enabling the economic wheel across various industries to continue to move at a time when major organisations either went for layoffs or pay-cuts.
“The quality of the domestic events was from the top draw. During the five-month period, the competitions provided uninterrupted, exciting and thrilling cricket that was not only enjoyed by all the participants but also attracted new fans, who followed the proceedings on our various digital platforms in the absence of the crowds, and kept the interest and involvement of the local media alive.
“Apart from the PCB staff, I will like to congratulate and thank all the players, player support personnel and match officials who stayed away from their families and friends to spent extended periods in bio-secure bubbles. The PCB appreciates and acknowledges their sacrifices and hopes the 2021-22 season will not test all these athletes like the 2020-21 season.”