Central Contracts of players likely to be reviewed

The issue pertaining to the review of Central Contracts and the salary structures of players has cropped up once again, with a former India captain asking the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators to look into the matter with all seriousness.

The CoA is likely to consider the request to review and revise the Central Contracts and the payments structure for the players, including the Indian woman cricketers, favourably.   -  AP

Last year, India captain Virat Kohli had suggested to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that it was time to review the Central Contracts System for the national players and for hundreds of others who take part in the Board’s domestic tournaments. There had also been reports of Mahendra Singh Dhoni having discussed the Central Contracts with the team management.

However, according to a BCCI official closely involved with annual retainership and player-payments for many years, Kohli is supposed to have told the then BCCI secretary, Ajay Shirke, about the need to review and revise the Central Contracts and other payments structure after the selection committee meeting in Mumbai ahead of the series against New Zealand.

The issue pertaining to the review of Central Contracts and the salary structures of players has cropped up once again, with a former India captain asking the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) – through another individual associated with the radical reforms in cricket – to look into the matter with all seriousness.

Bridging the gap

Almost everyone in the BCCI and the national team believe that those who play for India in Test cricket should be paid handsomely when compared with players who are picked for enormous sums at the IPL auction. Last year, while Delhi Daredevils bought left-arm spinner Pawan Negi for Rs. 8.5 crore at the IPL auction, someone like Cheteshwar Pujara was not even considered by franchises for the Twenty 20 league. Pujara, who virtually played a match-winning knock for India in the second Test against Australia in Bengaluru, went unsold at the IPL auction this year too.

Almost a decade and a half ago, it was Anil Kumble who had made a presentation on the Central Contracts and match fees structure at a BCCI Working Committee meeting, chaired by the then president A. C. Muthiah. As the chairman of the Board’s Technical Committee, Sunil Gavaskar was also invited to attend the Working Committee meeting. When asked for his opinion on the presentation made by Kumble, Gavaskar is supposed to have said that the BCCI is lucky that the players themselves have discussed how to share their money and that he would endorse the presentation.

Initially it appeared that Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly were all part of the discussion before Kumble and Dravid took it upon themselves to work on the pioneering Central Contracts and match fees structure for the Indian team and players (seniors and juniors) playing in the domestic tournaments.

The Central Contracts were first introduced in 2003, with Grade ‘A’ players getting Rs. 60 lakh, Grade ‘B’ players Rs. 30 lakh and Grade ‘C’ players Rs. 15 lakh. Twenty players were awarded annual retainership. Last year, Grade ‘A’ players received Rs. 1 crore, while Grade ‘B’ players got Rs. 50 lakh. Grade ‘C’ players earned Rs. 25 lakh. Following a petition, the BCCI also doubled the Test match fee to Rs. 15 lakh.

Better deal

In the first three years, the BCCI set aside 26 per cent (13 per cent for the national team and 13 per cent for the domestic players and juniors) of its gross revenue for Central Contracts and other payments. But after the broadcast deal with Nimbus in 2006, only 30 per cent of the money received from the broadcast rights was added to other revenue streams and consolidated as gross revenue, and 70 per cent of the revenue from broadcast rights was shared between 25 full-member associations.

The revenue from International Cricket Council (ICC) was never consolidated with the gross revenue, but with the revenue from the ICC likely to increase manifold, and with the Chinese mobile manufacturer, Oppo, signing a team sponsorship agreement worth Rs. 1,079 crore for five years (beginning April 1, 2017) with the BCCI on March 7, Kohli may be just right in asking for a better deal from the Board, not only for the Indian team but also for the first-class cricketers in India.

The CoA is likely to consider the request to review and revise the Central Contracts and the payments structure for the players, including the Indian woman cricketers, favourably.

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