The Committee of Administrators (COA) on Wednesday received a proposal for a five-fold hike in the central contracts of Indian players, in an attempt to reaffirm Test cricket's status at the top of the game, with the Indian Premier League (IPL) offering mega deals for young cricketers. As per Press Trust of India, the proposal for a five-fold hike, from Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 5 crore for the top grade of the central contracts, was made by a prominent personality who has worked closely with the Lodha Committee on the constitutional and structural reforms in the BCCI.
In the current structure, Grade A players are paid Rs. 1 crore, while Grade B and Grade C players receive Rs. 60 lakh and Rs. 35 lakh, respectively. These amounts are exclusive of the Rs. 15 lakh match fees paid to the first XI in Test matches.
Some of the players like Cheteshwar Pujara or Ishant Sharma -- big stars in their own rights -- have gone unsold at the IPL auctions while uncapped players like Thangarasu Natarajan or Mohammed Siraj got whopping contracts of Rs 3 crore and Rs 2.6 crore respectively purely based on T20 skills.
For the record, Pujara has more than 3000 Test runs with 10 hundreds while Ishant has more than 200 Test wickets.
"It is a novel proposal as it will mean that youngsters who are getting such massive salaries from IPL franchises realise that the real cricket is beyond the Rs 2 crore that they earn for 45 days. Not every cricketer has multi-million endorsement deals. The real incentive should be playing Test cricket," a top BCCI source told PTI today.
Another aspect that has been taken into consideration while preparing the proposal is that not every top Indian player is earning a lot from the endorsement market.
"As a brand, it is Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who are marketable stars among the current players as far as TV Commercials are concerned. It is very difficult to find brands consistently for a Pujara or say an Umesh Yadav. But they are performers in their own rights. Not everyone will remain marketable once their 10-15 year career is over. If BCCI is able to provide that cushion, there is no harm," the source added.
The IPL auction at times has caused a lot of heartburn for established names. The cricketing fraternity were in a state of shock that ICC's World No.1 ranked T20 spinner Imran Tahir went unsold.
While franchises have their business interest in mind when they reject a Pujara, dubbed as Test specialist or Ishant for a high base price, but some are baffled as to how a few of the lesser known players in the Rs 10 lakh (Rpt 10 lakh) bracket get teams.
"There is a Delhi player, who has been picked by Gujarat Lions for Rs 10 lakh. It's the lowest base price. But this boy has failed to make it to the Delhi T20 playing XI post 2014. So where did he perform and make a case for himself? And what exactly is the message that you are sending to a Priyank Panchal, who has close to 1500 runs this first-class season. You are just bracketing him as a first-class player," a former support staff of an IPL franchise said.
If the COA seriously considers the proposals, some of the longer format specialists will not feel hard done by the big bad world of auction where private entities decide the worth of sportspersons.
(With inputs from PTI)