Dravid is captain for next three tours
The BCCI's reaction to India's early exit from the World Cup, and its bitter fallout with senior players voicing their displeasure over the team leadership, has been swift and strong. The working committee, meeting in Mumbai today, took several key decisions aimed at bringing senior players into line, including replacing the graded system of contracts with a standard fee for all and imposing stringent curbs on player endorsements.
It also appointed Rahul Dravid team captain for the next three tours, to Bangladesh, Ireland and England and asked the selectors to pick a "young side" for the first of those tours. Dravid's retention of the captaincy had been under question, with senior players airing their opposition to him.
"All of us are very disappointed that the team was knocked out in the first round and the captain and coach admitted that the whole team was responsible for the loss", N Srinivasan, the BCCI treasurer, said. "But it is not the end of the world. We have to move forward and I am sure we will do well in future. By retaining Dravid as captain, we want to send out a signal that there is no cause for panic."
The board has gone further in backing Dravid by acting on his suggestions on coaching personnel for the upcoming Bangladesh tour. The hole left by Greg Chappell's exit will be filled by specialists for each department: Robin Singh, the former allrounder, has been appointed fielding coach, while Venkatesh Prasad, the former fast bowler, will take over as the bowling coach. Ravi Shastri, one of the former captains invited to the meeting on Friday, will go as cricket manager.
Another move that will send out a message to the senior players is the decision to issue notices to Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh, asking them for an explanation of recent comments made by them in the media.
Announcing these decisions, Srinivasan said the Board had also decided to do away with the zonal system of selection in a year's time; they will be replaced by fulltime selectors chosen on the basis of their elgibility based on factors including stature as a player .
The subject of player earnings appeared to be the main focus of the meeting, and it was decided to replace the system of graded contracts with a standard fee for all, and additional bonuses for series wins. However, no figures were mentioned in this regard. This effectively means that seniors and juniors all earn the same, the difference being in what they earn from endorsements.
There, too, the board has cracked down: each player will be allowed a maximum of three endorsements a year but will not be allowed to shoot any commercials up to two weeks prior to any series. Also, not more than two players can endorse the same product. However, Srinivasan stressed that these were decisions taken looking ahead, as a plan for the future.
With a view to improving domestic cricket, it was decided that all international players would play a specified number of domestic games every season; the Ranji Trophy Elite group would be reduced from 15 teams to 10 by 2008-09; all state associations have asked to prepare "fast and lively" wickets; the home and away rotation system has been scrapped for all tournament semi-finals and finals; these venues will be chosen by the board.
"We have instructed the selection committee to send a young team to Bangladesh with an experienced captain," BCCI treasurer N. Srinivasan told reporters at the end of a two-day review of the World Cup performance.
"It's a sport after all and there will be wins and defeats."