LAHORE: Fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar won back his central contract as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced their latest central contracts on Tuesday.

Shoaib was not awarded a central contract last year, instead earning a retainership from the PCB but he is now among 26 players awarded annual contracts and will receive Rs250,000 per month plus match fees.

He has been named in the top 'A' category with captain Shoaib Malik, vice-captain Misbahul Haq, Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul, Kamran Akmal, Salman Butt and Danish Kaneria.

The "Rawalpindi Express" was slapped with a five-year ban -- later reduced and then suspended -- after he lashed out at officials for failing to give him a contract last January.

He played just three Twenty20s, in a tri-series in Canada, and also turned out for Surrey, but despite being in the squad to face the West Indies in Abu Dhabi he was again ruled out through injury.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief operating officer Saleem Altaf said seniority was the main criterion in deciding the contracts.

"The central contracts were devised by coach Intikhab Alam, manager Yawar Saeed and chief selector Abdul Qadir and the main criteria was seniority of the players," Saleem Altaf told reporters.

Shoaib Akhtar missed out on a central contract last year following Pakistan's Test and one-day series defeats in India in 2007, when he was often absent through illness and injury.

Shoaib Akhtar also showed interest in acting in Bollywood movies, irritating cricket authorities.

Angered by his exclusion, Akhtar publicly criticised the PCB and was handed the ban before its reduction on appeal