Intikhab Alam, the Pakistan coach, has been asked by the PCB to get inputs from national team players and draw up recommendations before the board hands out its central contracts for this year. The board also strongly denied reports of the players being unhappy with certain terms in the contracts.
"We have given him (Intikhab) an outline of what we feel should be the terms and conditions of the new contracts and he will add the players' info to these," Salim Altaf, the PCB's chief operating officer, said. "But so far nothing has happened. So there is no question of players being unhappy as yet."
Their had been reports in various sections of the press that senior players were unhappy with terms of the new contracts; captain Shoaib Malik is alleged to have spoken to several senior players in an effort to stop them from signing new contracts and holding out for better terms.
But Altaf rubbished the claims. "The question of players revolting or not being happy with the new terms of the contracts does not arise. Because as yet nothing has been formalised regarding the new terms and conditions of the contracts."
The reports have an interesting context in that they come at a time when talk of forming a players' association has been mooted for the first time in many years. Pakistan has never had a players' association of any credible standing, though Asif Iqbal, former captain, and some players in the late 70s did try to set one up. In recent months, both Malik and vice-captain Misbah-ul-Haq have spoken of the need to set one up in Pakistan.
But Altaf acknowledged that the financial crunch the board is facing will force it to rationalise the benefits given to cricketers. "There is a suggestion that while special bonuses for individual performances be cut, the match fees of players be increased specially for Test matches to balance things.
"But the players have to understand we are facing a financial crunch and we are taking measures in the board administration and expenses also to rationalise things," he said.
The central contracts for 2008 have already expired, on the last day of the year, and the new ones, with a tenure of one year, will be announced only after receiving the approval of the board's general council meeting later this month. The drafts of the central contracts were handed over to the chairman PCB Ijaz Butt today and the process of making a final draft out of them will begin now.