Ravindra Jadeja, Cheteshwar Pujara and M Vijay have broken into the Grade-A category of the new annual contracts announced by the BCCI today. The trio joins Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, R Ashwin and Ajinkya Rahane in the top bracket, the upgrade recognition of a prolific home season. The annual retainership for this grade of contract has also increased to INR 2 crore (USD 300,000 approx), double what was offered to Grade-A contract holders when the previous list was out in November 2015. The new contracts are for a year from October 1, 2016, to September 30, 2017.
The BCCI has also doubled the retainers for the remaining two categories. Players in Grade B will now earn INR 1 crore (USD 150,000 approx) while those in Grade C will get INR 50 lakh (USD 75,000) per year. The match fee per ODI and T20I has also been increased* from INR 4 lakh to INR 6 lakh (USD 9,000 approx) per ODI and from INR 2 lakh to INR 3 lakh (USD 4,500 approx) per T20I. For Test-match fees, the BCCI has stuck to the decision taken last October to increase the amount from INR 7 lakh (USD 10,000 approx) to INR 15 lakh (USD 23,000 approx).
The biggest beneficiaries in the new contracts are the Saurashtra pair of Jadeja and Pujara. The hike for Jadeja, who moved past Ashwin to become the No. 1 Test bowler after the Ranchi Test, is eight times his previous contract, which was worth INR 25 lakh (Grade C). Pujara, who plays only Tests and is currently No. 2 on the batting rankings, will get four times his previous retainer of INR 50 lakh (Grade B).
The highest-profile name to miss out on the list of 32 is Suresh Raina; he was not given a contract, having been slotted into Grade B the previous time.
KL Rahul and Wriddhiman Saha have moved up into Grade B, while limited-overs specialists Jasprit Bumrah and Yuvraj Singh are awarded contracts (both Grade B) after not featuring in the previous list. Shikhar Dhawan and Ambati Rayudu have moved down from Grade B to C.
The decision to revamp the central contracts and match fees was taken by the BCCI management in conjunction with the Supreme-Court appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA). Kohli had conveyed to the BCCI top brass last October that the players wanted their central contracts revised. Reportedly, Kohli met with CoA head Vinod Rai earlier this month, after the Bangalore Test against Australia, to offer his thoughts. The issue was also discussed in several meetings among the CoA, BCCI chief executive officer Rahul Johri and MV Sridhar, the board's game development manager.
Vinod Rai, the chairman of the CoA, said the revision of the central contracts was long overdue. "From 2010 onwards it [the central contracts] has not been been reviewed. So we have taken inputs from lots of people and we have reviewed it," Rai said. Ramachandra Guha, part of the four-member CoA, said the hike was also an "acknowldgement" of India climbing to No. 1 in Tests.
An important consideration for the BCCI in revising the contracts was to safeguard the interests of players like Pujara, who do not play in all three formats and lucrative tournaments like the IPL.
*18.00GMT, March 22: The article had previously said the ODI and T20 match fees had been doubled.