Deepti joins Harmanpreet and Mandhana in securing top BCCI contract

Rodrigues, Ghosh and Verma among five women's cricketers awarded Grade B contracts

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
Deepti Sharma picked up three wickets for just seven runs off her four overs, India vs Thailand, 1st semi-final, Women's T20 Asia Cup, Sylhet, October 13, 2022

Deepti Sharma was handed a Grade A contract worth INR 50 lakh  •  Asian Cricket Council

Deepti Sharma, the allrounder, is a new entrant to BCCI's highest bracket of annual retainers - Grade A worth INR 50 lakh - alongside Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur for 2022-23.
Poonam Yadav, the legspinner, who had previously been placed in the highest bracket when the central contracts were last made public in May 2021 (for the period October 2020-September 2021), drops out altogether along with the now-retired pair of Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, who had both been placed in Grade B (worth INR 30 lakh).
Raj retired after last year's 50-overs World Cup in New Zealand while Goswami made her final appearance during a historic ODI-series win over England at Lord's last September.
Shikha Pandey, the allrounder, who earned a recall after 15 months ahead of this year's T20 World Cup in South Africa has been left out altogether. She had previously been in Grade B which had 10 players. That list has now been pruned to five, with Renuka Singh and Richa Ghosh, who was earlier handed a Grade C retainer, being the new entrants. The others include Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma and Rajeshwari Gayakwad.
Renuka enjoyed a breakthrough 2022, where she played a stellar role in India's run to a silver-medal finish at Commonwealth Games in Birmingham last year and has since emerged as the leader of India's seam attack after Goswami's retirement. Ghosh, meanwhile, has emerged as the frontline wicketkeeper and the team's designated finisher.
Grade C, which is worth INR 10 lakh, has nine players from six previously. Among the first timers are fast bowlers Meghna Singh and Anjali Sarvani, allrounders Pooja Vastrakar, Sneh Rana and Devika Vaidya and batters S Meghana, Yastika Bhatia and Harleen Deol. Allrounder Radha Yadav is also part of this group, having earlier been given a Grade B contract.
The formal announcement of annual retainers comes six months after the BCCI announced a pay parity, under which the women - like the men - stood to earn INR 15 lakh for a Test, INR 6 lakh for an ODI and INR 3 lakh for a T20I. These amounts are significantly higher than the flat INR 1 lakh that India women players earned for an ODI or T20I appearance, and INR 2.5 lakh for a Test match prior to that.
The Indian team's next assignment is a tour to Bangladesh in June. Earlier this month, board secretary Jay Shah said it was "imperative we have a dedicated, full-fledged support staff to drive the team forward" while also saying the "best coaches will be roped in to help players realise full potential and achieve excellence on and off the field."
The national team is currently without a full-time head coach since former India offspinner Ramesh Powar was asked to step away as part of a restructuring process. Since then, former India batter Hrishikesh Kanitkar has been in charge and led the team to a semi-final finish at the T20 World Cup.
Applications for various positions, including head coach, will be announced soon before BCCI's three-member Cricket Advisory Committee will conduct interviews to identify the new coaches.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo