As the excitement settles down from the board's Annual General Meeting, the new office-bearers will have their first serious business to transact in the near future. On September 30, the existing player contracts expire and it will be interesting to see just what they decide when it comes to some of the senior players, especially Sourav Ganguly, who has already been given a hint of what lies in store when he was left out of the Rest of India squad for the Irani Cup.
Shashank Manohar, the president, N Srinivasan, the secretary and K. Srikkanth, the chairman of the senior selection committee, will have to draw up a list of which cricketers they want to award central contracts to, and more specifically in which category.
Currently the board offers four grades of annual contracts. The highest, which is the A contract, comes with a retainer of Rs 60 lakhs, while the B category retainership is Rs 40 lakhs, C Rs 25 lakhs and finally D of Rs 15 lakhs. Any player who represents India while not being under a central contract automatically gets placed in the D category.
In the last period --- October 1, 2007 to September 30 2008 --- a total of 32 cricketers were contracted, with only seven being in the top bracket. Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Zaheer Khan were in the A category but it remains to be seen whether they all retain this status.
If precedent is anything to go by, Dravid and Ganguly could drop down a level as someone like V.V.S. Laxman, who is not in the selectors' ODI scheme of things, only received a B contract last time around. With Dravid and Ganguly not having played ODIs in almost a year, they might just be downgraded, unless the committee decides to make an exception.
Harbhajan Singh and Virender Sehwag, who were both missing from the ODI team for some time, were previously in the B category, but now that they are both sure starters in both forms of the game, they could well expect to be upgraded to the A category.
Both Manohar and Srinivasan are known to take a hard line when it comes to players and player power, and the manner in which they award contracts, whenever they choose to do so, will give a clear indication of just how this new dispensation plans to run Indian cricket.