India news November 12, 2010

New pay structure to re-assert Test primacy

ESPNcricinfo staff

Lost among the large and extremely healthy contract pools for India's leading cricketers lies the BCCI's most progressive move so far - giving Test cricket the financial muscle to keep India's younger generation of cricketers interested.

At the end of the BCCI's Gradation Committee meeting in Chennai on Thursday, along with shrinking the list of contracted players from about four groups of over 40 to three groups of 24, the board has radically reworked the match-fee structure.

For the period October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011, the Test match fee has been nearly tripled from Rs 2.5 lakhs per match ($5500) to Rs 7 lakhs ($15,500) per Test. The ODI fee has risen from Rs 1.8 lakhs ($4000) per match to Rs 4 lakhs ($8900) and the T20 fee doubled from Rs 1 lakh ($2200) per match to Rs 2 lakhs ($4400).

This, the BCCI says, is an attempt to re-assert the primacy of Test cricket as well as make what used to be a very narrow gap between the earnings of Test and ODI cricketers per match into a fairly vast gulf. It is significant that the BCCI's Grade A whose retainers are Rs one crore ($220,000) a year are those who (with the exception of Suresh Raina) have been a key part of the Test team over the past few years.

BCCI chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty told ESPNcricinfo, "this is a message - that Test cricket is important, it's the most important form of the game in the world."

In 2009, India played only six Tests but finished the year as the No. 1 team. To keep MS Dhoni's men at the top, the BCCI invited South Africa and Australia for a two-Test series each outside the ICC's Future Tours Programme. India's rise in the Test rankings, Shetty says, "has something to do" with the BCCI's focus on the long game. "The players were taking the initiative, they had worked hard, we wanted to make sure there were more Tests, that is why we talked to Australia and South Africa."

According to BCCI treasurer MP Pandove, the general mood within the board following a meeting in late October was, "that the boys were doing well in the Test matches, they were No. 1, they should be encouraged to play more Tests. It was decided we had to re-look at the contract structure."

This re-examination meant trying to re-apportion the BCCI's revenues given out to players. According to the BCCI's rules, 26% of the BCCI's annual revenues goes to the players, of which 13% goes to the internationals. Shetty explained: "If you see the ratio was something like 10 Tests and 30 ODIs on average and it meant that an ODI player could play 30 days of cricket and earn much more than a Test specialist who may have played 50 days of cricket, in Tests." By last year's pay scale, a VVS Laxman could earn Rs 25 lakhs for playing 10 Tests, but an ODI specialist, for example Praveen Kumar, could earn up to Rs 54 lakhs for 30 ODIs.

The restructuring of the graded contract also serves to establish an equilibrium between the three forms of the game. Shetty said when the player contracts were originally formulated, "the plan was to get the contracts down to 20 (eventually). It is something which has to be earned by the player like it happens in other countries."

The BCCI had four grades of contracted players for the past two years, which also coincided with the existence of the breakaway Indian Cricket League (ICL). The intention to reduce the number of contracts arose the moment the ICL was rendered insignificant by the massive success of the IPL in 2008. Getting rid of the Rs 15 lakh per year contracts for a Grade 'D' fringe player has also freed revenues to distribute to its most elite players.

The overall retainership hike serves two goals: from a cricketing standpoint, it separates the elite from the rest of the pack. BCCI secretary N Srinivasan told the Hindustan Times, "We didn't want too many people ... to be a contracted player is a big thing, so we felt that one has to really perform to earn it ... it's not an easy club to get into." Financially, it reduces the surplus revenue to be distributed across all players as a handout, which in the past, Shetty said, depended mostly on number of matches played rather than on ability or achievements.

Between now and the end of its tour to Australia in 2011-12, India will play 15 away Tests, under one of the best match fee scales in the world. It will be their chance to see if, other than re-asserting the primacy of Test cricket, India can retain their primacy in Test cricket.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • syed on November 14, 2010, 17:33 GMT

    Jaffer must be in test squad if BCCI is not partial. Last season also he played well, this season also in two matches he made 3 centuries, there is no reason to keep him out of test cricket. He should not be a scape goat.

  • Muthuvel on November 14, 2010, 6:29 GMT

    What the heck happened to Pongal test in Chennai ? my granddad asks about this, not kkidding..

  • Muthuvel on November 14, 2010, 6:24 GMT

    Dolls you only get what you deserve. when there is an ODI all the 'youngishhtan' turns up in the ground cheering mobbing..this gives a perspective of popularity and trp's seem to be going for ODI's but tests in non test centers like mohali,nagpur timbuctoo..there is crowd disinterest and probably trp's are also low after sehwag falls. So bottomline the great indian cricket fans are interested in slam bang so be it lets pay the slam bangers well, Laxman sir for all you 4th innings grit and greatness you are not as good as Praveen, learn slam bang for the buck.

    'yougistshhtan kaa woww'

  • Munawar on November 13, 2010, 19:15 GMT

    Laxman is perhaps the best batsman in world right now. Gambhir must make way for Jaffer. It's time to get the country's best bat who is not in the team back into the team. Technically and temperamentally Jaffer is the most well equipped for No.2 position and is a much better option than Vijay in Tests. Dravid must retire now. He clearly is struggling these days. Time for him to bid adieu. Pujara must be brought back in. Raina must go. He is good for ODIs and T20s but doesn't have the technique or temperament for Tests. No, Yuvraj shouldn't replace Raina. Yuvraj has got enough Test chances and is good for ODIs & T20s like Raina. Rohit like Yuvraj doesn't merit a Test place either. Kaif deserves a Test chance provided Dhoni agrees. Kaif as a wounded tiger will grab the opportunity with both hands and could be a threat for MSD as a potential future Test captain. Else Badrinath merits a Test cap. Ishant needs to be brought back in the Test XI. He is a special talent. Ojha must be persisted

  • Vinayak on November 13, 2010, 18:39 GMT

    It is abt time that BCCI takes a serious hard look at the comfort levels provided to the spectators.. Currently, I think we are as pathetic as Bangladesh grounds, as far as spectator comfort is concerned.. A simple solution could be to reduce the stadium strength by 20% (nobody comes anyway) and ensuring that the comfort of the spectators remain...

  • Dummy4 on November 13, 2010, 18:37 GMT

    Who are they kidding with? Have you guys lost out your maths skills? If by last year's pay scale, VVS Laxman could earn Rs 25 lakhs for playing 10 Test and Praveen Kumar could earn upto Rs 54 lakhs for 30 ODIs, then as per the current scale VVS Laxman would earn 70 lakhs and Praveen Kumar would earn 1.20 crores. Earlier the difference was of 29 lakhs, and now it would be of 50 lakhs. Youngsters would now be more inclined to ODIs. And lets not count the retainer fees into this as that's not Test specific. LOL. What a joke!

  • VENKATACHALAM on November 13, 2010, 6:32 GMT

    Atlast BCCI has put the money where the mouth is. This is the best news BCCI has provided to Test cricket lovers in a long time. Keep up the good work BCCI.

  • PALLAB on November 13, 2010, 4:33 GMT

    3.IMPROVE and ENHANCE the facilities for the average paying spectators at stadiums (believe me, they suffer a lot and the BCCI has pushed the traditional Indian patience, resilience and endurance to the limit). I have been hearing about this since the 80s and really feel sorry for the hell that they have to go thru just to watch any international match. BCCI is flush with funds to ensure better with real urgency.One man who can actually pull the plug on BCCI and rid all the politicos/old-line hangers on is Ganguly and his comrade-in-arms could be the statesman-cricketer Anil Kumble -who could be the best administrative CEO BCCI could ever have in its 75 year plus history. Imagine Ganguly Nikita Krushchev like giving defining and far-changing edicts for Indian cricket (spectator facilities, sporting pitches and man-managing fringe players) and Kumble being the hands-on Jack Welch running a multi-billion-dollar cricket organization smoothly and utterly professionally.

  • PALLAB on November 13, 2010, 4:32 GMT

    2. Dissing the senior Indian players when they were at their lowest ebb post Caribbean World Cup 2007 and disdainfully shrugging off posers from journos. He has no BUSINESS running an IPL team and being a BCCI top honcho. And it is BS that they are all honorary office bearers as they enjoy five-star perks with no accountability (many Indians just love these status posts which might not offer a salary but plenty of side-benefits which they mooch off with glee). The fact is why do all BCCI office-bearers have to hold sundry and all meetings/ back-room pow-wows to oust others in five-star hotels. This massive expenditure can instead be used to keep many fringe players motivated with minimal contracts (as SL Cricket has done) as Ranji Trophy earnings are barely OK-note everybody is not on the IPL rolls. Folks, the money that they lavishly spend on themselves are indirectly funded by the fans (courtesy advertisers chasing millions of Indian eyeballs). The least they can do is to CONTD.

  • PALLAB on November 13, 2010, 2:18 GMT

    I also think cricinfo with its acknowledged influence now can do its bit to at least start a campaign to REVOLUTIONIZE the viewing pleasure for Indian spectators instead of just publishing columns/blogs about the same. One colossus'words can galvanize such an effort. It was Tendulkar's plea which got BCCI to play more Tests, it was Tend who expressed his displeasure to Ponting about the 2006 Champions Trophy insult to Pawar on the victor's podium, it was Tend's comment about the unstinted commitment of senior team India players which made the reluctant demagogue-coach Greg Chappell quit with his tail b/w his legs. When Tend raises his voice on certain issues, the impact is far-reaching and influential. Let cricinfo just get Tendulkar to say a few words about "improving spectator facilities at stadiums in India" and see the immediate impact.

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