Shoaib Malik retired from ODIs at the end of the 2019 world cup Getty

In a significant reduction of the number of centrally contracted cricketers, the Pakistan Cricket Board on Thursday (August 8) announced the list of players for the 2019-20 season, in which only three made it to the top category. Babar Azam, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Yasir Shah were the three players who made it to category A, with the PCB bringing down the number of contracted players from 33 in the previous season to 19.

Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik were among the players who didn't feature in the list but they will be available for selection, stated a PCB media release which added that "players' performance and fitness in the past 12 months, and the formats that they are likely to represent Pakistan in the upcoming season" were taken into consideration before finalising the list.

Cricbuzz understands that the base amount for the three categories has seen a jump of 25 to 40 %, with players in Category A getting PRN 11 lakh (per month), followed by 7.5 and 5.5 lakh for the next two categories. The hike comes out of turn as the players' representative had agreed on the contract terms to last till 2020-21 last year.

Once the new selection committee is formed, the selectors can also suggest more names to be added to the annual contracted list. The players who have been dropped from the national contract can get contracted by the provinces on an annual term.

Unlike the previous season, which had five categories of centrally contracted players, PCB opted for only three grades of contracts for the upcoming season which include a split series of two Tests, three ODIs and three T20Is against Sri Lanka, two Tests and three T20Is against Australia and a series of two Tests and three T20Is versus Bangladesh.

List of centrally contracted players (From July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020):

Category A - Babar Azam, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Yasir Shah

Category B - Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Abbas, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Wahab Riaz

Category C - Abid Ali, Hasan Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Rizwan, Shan Masood and Usman Shinwari

"I want to congratulate all those who have been offered central contracts for the next season. We have significantly increased the financial value of the 2019-20 retainers across each category. This is over and above what had been agreed in the current agreement, which is due to run until 2021," said Wasim Khan, the PCB Managing Director.

"The PCB have set high standards and targets in its strategic plan for the upcoming season. We want to attach a high value to receiving a central contract. We have complete faith and confidence that these players will set-up and produce on-field performances that will help us collectively achieve our objectives and targets," he added.