Saurabh Tiwary and Manish Pandey turned out together in the under-19 World Cup in 2008. The two also made their IPL debut together when Mumbai Indians snapped them up in the first edition. However, it was Pandey who made a name for himself in the IPL before Tiwary when he became the first Indian batsman to score a hundred in the second edition.
Cut to 2012. Saurabh Tiwary has a contract worth around Rs 7 crore with the Royal Challengers Bangalore while Pandey gets (at least officially) Rs 30 lakh per season from Pune Warriors.The huge disparity in their earnings has arisen because Tiwary, in the meanwhile, got an India call up, and played three ODIs. That qualified him to earn big bucks in the IPL while Pandey, as per the BCCI's rules for uncapped players, was bound by the salary cap.
It was perhaps this frustration that drove Pandey to refuse the RCB contract and get in touch with other franchise, for which he was slapped a four-match ban. Still, it is a big temptation to circumvent the BCCI rule and earn what the market offers. “It's a completely flawed rule. The entire tournament is built on the principle of free market, right from auctioning franchises to international players. So, what's the point in monitoring and controlling the salary of domestic players?” said a senior franchise official.
He more or less confirmed that the rule to pay uncapped players between Rs 10 to Rs 30 lakh existed only on paper. “It's doing nothing but encouraging players and franchisees to indulge in corrupt practices. While a player, who feels he's being paid less, keeps looking for better opportunities, the franchisees who want a certain player pay him either under-the-table or give him some other facilities as compensation.”
Asked whether uncapped players switching sides was proof that they were being paid under the table, he said: “We can't rule that out. But it could be purely for cricketing reasons too. Last season, a player told us he wasn't getting enough matches, and we released him. Of course, not everyone is changing sides for merely cricketing reasons.”
Perhaps it's time the IPL reviewed the salary cap, although it may not happen soon. “The inquiry is on into the whole incident and only after we have the report with us that we will decide whether the salary cap needs to be raised or removed,” said BCCI joint secretary Anurag Thakur.