Ajinkya Rahane gets Grade A contract
He might not be a sure starter in India's limited-overs XIs nowadays, but Ajinkya Rahane has been given a Grade A BCCI central contract. It is an elite group: only four players have made it to Grade A, others being Test captain Virat Kohli, limited-overs captain MS Dhoni and offspinner R Ashwin.
Rahane was the captain when India went to Zimbabwe without Dhoni and Kohli. Rahane had an excellent year with runs in Australia, both in Tests and at the World Cup, to go with his previous year where he scored runs in South Africa and England. Grade A carried a Rs 1 crore retainer.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was India's Player of the Series in England in 2014, has been relegated to Grade B as has Suresh Raina. Bhuvneshwar hasn't been able to replicate his form from the previous year after his return from injury. Since he was given a Grade A contract last year, Raina has made another unsuccessful attempt at a Test comeback, and has had an average time in the ODIs.
Test openers M Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan, batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu, and fast bowlers Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami retained their Grade B contracts, which carry a Rs 50 lakh retainer.
Ravindra Jadeja, who has made a successful comeback to Tests with the Man of the Match award in Mohali, went down from Grade B to Grade C. After a shoulder injury, he had an indifferent time in international cricket, which led to his being dropped from all formats after the ODIs in Bangladesh in June. Another Grade B contract holder, Pragyan Ojha, whose action came under the spotlight before he came back to domestic cricket with corrections, was not given any contract.
The total number of contracts went down from 32 to 26. Pankaj Singh, Vinay Kumar, Manoj Tiwary, Parvez Rasool, Robin Uthappa, Sanju Samson and Kuldeep Yadav lost their contracts. Harbhajan Singh and S Aravind were given Grade C contracts, whose retainer is Rs 25 lakh. Naman Ojha, who made his test debut in Sri Lanka, missed out on a contract as well.
Women cricketers were awarded contracts for the first time, with Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Harmanpreet Kaur and Thirush Kamini bracketed in Grade A that carries a retainer of Rs 15 lakh. Seven other players were handed Grade B contracts of Rs 10 lakh each.
Last year the BCCI had not announced the various retainer fees for the various grades because there had not been an AGM owing to the impasse over IPL corruption issues. The retainer fees have not gone up from what they were in 2013.