The Bangalore meeting between four senior players — skipper Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly — and top BCCI officials on Monday afternoon got off on the wrong foot.
And interestingly, that had nothing to do with any disagreement between the players and officials at all, or anything to do with the terms of the player contracts. According to sources, early on in the meeting itself came the news that Graham Ford had declined the Board’s offer to be India coach. Ford had made the decision on Monday morning (London time) and conveyed it to the BCCI brass just as the meeting began.
"It cast a dampener on proceedings,” said an insider, obviously not wanting to be identified. "After that, a lot of the talk revolved around what would happen next and what the possibilities for the next coach could be."
In a bit though, the contract discussions began. The two main points on the agenda were reportedly the cap on endorsements (the BCCI had stated at the last working committee meeting in April in Mumbai that there could not be more than three endorsements per player) and the question of graded payments (based on seniority and performance) being scrapped and a retainership system (where everyone got the same amount) established.
According to sources, the players were not willing to make a fuss on the graded payments issue at all (it apparently wasn’t brought up) if the amount paid as retainership was increased. They felt that the Rs. 10 lakh fixed at the moment was far too low. They apparently suggested that a higher amount be fixed keeping in mind the Board’s revenues.
They believed that as employees of the BCCI, they should have a stake in the Board’s revenues, and their earnings should be in proportion to that. This could be augumented by performance bonuses, if India won.
The players also stated their case on the endorsement issue, explaining their stand that a cap on endorsements was unfair more to the next generation of players than those who already have contracts or had not many years of active cricket left.
Dravid called the discussions "fruitful". The Board’s working committee will take these issues up in Tuesday’s meeting and with both the BCCI contracts committee (treasurer N Srinivasan, vice-president Shashank Manohar and PCA chief IS Bindra) and the players seeming hopeful, the issue could well be finally resolved this week.