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Domestic players' IPL earnings take a hit

Nita Ambani takes part in the IPL auction Getty Images

The fourth edition of the IPL is expected to be "fatter", with a larger purse for every team to buy players, and "bigger", with the introduction of two new teams and 14 more matches. Ironically, though, despite the franchises having more money for distribution, the players might end up earning a lot less than what they did in the first three seasons, especially the first-class cricketers.

For the first time, a salary cap has been introduced for the uncapped players (first-class and under-19 cricketers who haven't played for India yet). Now their IPL salary will be decided by their seniority in the domestic circuit and not by their performance. There were quite a few domestic players, especially the ones who came back to the BCCI fold from the ICL, who were raking in twice or even thrice as much as the new salary cap.

These guys came in with a big reputation of being T20 specialists and hence demanded, and also got, mega bucks. Even the domestic cricketers who performed consistently in the IPL got a considerable hike after every season, which was again at least double the amount of what they stand to earn now. And no wonder that, until the new rules came out, they were negotiating a similar deal for the fourth season.

Now the dynamics have changed completely and instead of passing judgement on its merit, I'd put forth the arguments for you to decide.

Ideally, a person must get what he deserves for his services and that should be decided mutually by the employer (IPL franchisee) and the employee (player). His cricketing status with regards to whether he is good enough to play for India should not hamper his earnings in a domestic league. Also, why should the year of his first-class debut matter while taking a call on his capabilities as a player? Is it even mandatory to be a good first-class cricketer to be a good T20 cricketer?

And more importantly, how would you explain to the same player, despite doing ever so well, earning X amount for one season and a third of it the next season, while the earnings of everyone around him goes up every year. Last but not the least, since he isn't playing for India and perhaps won't in the future too, he isn't earning as much and now it will only come down further.

Perhaps, the idea behind the new rule was to ensure that the importance of playing and doing well in first-class cricket is not wasted on the younger lot. This ruling would ensure that players don't chuck their first-class careers or dreams of playing for the country to make moolah in the cash-rich IPL. Hitherto, astronomical sums exchanged hands and were promised to even the domestic cricketers, enough make them one-dimensional.

This new salary cap tells you in no uncertain terms that you have to don the national colours to earn top dollar and there is no alternative. Besides, IPL 4 may now escape the wrath of the cynics, unlike its precursors, blamed for indulging young cricketers in steep sums.

Also, all the contracts going through the BCCI means that there'd be a standard players' contract and different franchisees won't have different rules. A lot of teams have been guilty of riding on players' ignorance of the laws and paid a lot less than they'd agreed on.

IPL lacked a rule book, and hence an overhaul was imperative to ensure a smooth run for both play and commerce. The redrafting may have settled some contentious issues and answered some basic questions, yet in the process, it may have popped up some more questions of serious concern.