At last, the much-deferred fee hike for India Test players has finally happened. The move was imperative to make playing Test cricket as lucrative as possible and ensure that players like Pujara, with solid technique and temperament, don't sacrifice these attributes to acquire skills suited to the more rewarding T20 cricket
While a few players have been lucky enough to get this incentive, along with a hike in their central contract, a lot bigger pool of fringe players have lost out as the BCCI scraped Grade D and pruned down the central contracts list from a whopping 41 to 24.
The list had a group of 20 elite cricketers when it was started. But then came the ICL, and a lot of domestic cricketers left the BCCI fold to join the 'rebel league'. The board acted swiftly and introduced Grade D to reward the performers in domestic cricket.
Besides giving players the much-needed financial security, it also assured them they were in the loop.
In fact, even the fee for domestic games was increased substantially. A lot has changed since then. The IPL arrived with a bang and forced the ICL into oblivion. Subsequently, the Grade D contracts, too, disappeared. The board's logic behind scraping it is that it's an elite club, and only a sterling performance could get one a look in. But wasn't it the case always?
Or were the contracts handed out to undeserving players earlier? This cut back has an even bigger impact on the earnings of the domestic performers. Being on the list of contracted cricketers meant they would be auctioned for the IPL, and would have gone for prize based on their market value.
To add to their woes, their maximum salary was already decided, based on the year of their first-class debut and not performances. While some players might still cobble together something with the new order, players like Pankaj Singh and Ajinkya Rahane, perceived inapt for T20 format, might suddenly find themselves in a fix.
Now, they would be lucky to get a half decent deal from a franchise. And if things weren't already looking sordid enough, the major part of a domestic match fee, which comes from the BCCI's annual revenues, has also come down massively in the last couple of seasons.
It started with a player getting nearly Rs 37,000 per day, which has now been slashed to about Rs 22,000. The earnings of domestic players are taking a hit every year, but not many bother, except the players.