If this is handled properly, it could be a step forward for the Indian cricket players' movement and perhaps even in the edgy player-administrator relationships in India in the future.
But it has to be handled carefully. For the moment, the Indian Board has given players the go-ahead to hand over a percentage of the money they earn from the International Cricket Council (ICC) events to the world cricket players' body (FICA).
Indian captain Rahul Dravid wrote to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) last week, stating that the players wanted to give five per cent of their prize money to the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations.
It is an interesting development since the BCCI and the Sri Lankan board are the only two associations not affiliated to the FICA—the international body that coordinates all national players' associations.
India has a representative body, the Indian Cricket Players' Association (ICPA), formed in the aftermath of the unseemly contracts controversy (a stand-off between the players and the BCCI over endorsement rights) in 2002. But the organisation is yet to be recognised by the BCCI, whose brass have long held the view that there is no real need for a players' body.
In fact, there was talk of the association being recognised after India's tour of the West Indies this summer, but that did not happen. Is this easy acceptance of an increased involvement by Indian players in FICA, an openly vocal critic of some of the BCCI's policies (and the ICC's, especially on the burnout issue), a sign of a change in that rigid stance? Perhaps.
In this case, the ICC has an understanding with the FICA, formed in 1998 and recognised by the ICC in 2003, that players from all affiliated associations would contribute five per cent of their prize money from ICC tournaments to it.
And despite BCCI's unwillingness (so far) to recognise its players association or have an active dialogue with the FICA, it is willing to go along with the ICC on this one. Possibly because in a sense, the Board can quite happily wash its hands off the matter too.
"We have told the ICC that we will distribute the entire prize money among the players," BCCI's Chief Administrative Officer Prof Ratnakar Shetty told Hindustan Times on Saturday. "After that, it is up to the players to do as they wish with that money. All we are concerned about is that we cannot transfer the money to FICA on players' behalf. We don't want to be an intermediary since we are not connected with FICA. The players will have to do it themselves."
Still, former India cricketer-turned commentator Arun Lal, the founder secretary of the Indian Cricket Players' Association, welcomed the players' gesture and seemed to think it was a step in the right direction. "It is a very noble gesture and will certainly help the players' movement in India go forward," he said.
How though, seemed unclear, a view Prof Shetty echoed. He said he wasn't sure whether it was a step forward for the players' movement at all. "We have our players' association which tackles players' issues," he said. "So I am not sure whether this initiative will really take the players' movement forward."