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Why drawing up Indian cricket team players’ contracts is tedious task

Player contracts are traditionally used to reward top players and give them financial security. But now, as the game evolves, sorting out a player’s worth has become a complex exercise.

cricket Updated: Dec 07, 2017 11:35 IST
Indian cricket team,Virat Kohli,BCCI
Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli recently demanded a bigger share of the BCCI’s earnings for the players themselves. (AFP)

As part of the overall move to ‘fix’ things in the BCCI, the annual player retainer contracts are being reworked. The COA engaged with Team India representatives recently in a well advertised meeting and announced progress was made because of an inclusive process where players were consulted.

When new contracts are announced (earlier ones lapsed last September) important changes are expected. The monetary value (presently R2 crore, 1 crore, and 50 lakh in three grades) of contracts will certainly increase. With BCCI earnings going up, players are justified in asking for a bigger share and when Virat Kohli makes a request for better terms it is actually an ‘offer’ that can’t be refused.

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It’s likely that the pool of contracted players will be enlarged to include players close to India selection, India’s bench strength and the emerging talent pool. Karun Nair, for instance, is not in the frame at present but anyone who scores a Test triple hundred needs to be supported. There is also a case for reaching out to youth sensations Prithvi Shaw and Anmolpreet Singh and plug them into the system.

Player contracts are traditionally used to reward top players and give them financial security. But now, as the game evolves, sorting out a player’s worth has become a complex exercise. Earlier it was easy to grade players based on Test performance but with cricket splintering into three formats complications arise.

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It is tricky to compare a one day and T20 specialist with an established Test star. Should Bumrah get less than Umesh Yadav or Ishant Sharma? Is a player who plays all three formats (Virat or Shikhar) more valuable than MS Dhoni? And, what do you do with Pujara, priceless in Tests but a misfit in other formats?

Other countries, grappling with similar challenges, discovered different answers. Australia and South Africa measured a player’s contribution and linked it to his salary. In this arrangement, players are assigned marks for performances in different formats, graded accordingly, and placed in an appropriate pay band. England, from this season, has introduced separate red and white ball contracts for Tests and limited-over players.

Considering the unique complexities of Indian cricket the way forward on contracts, besides more money and more players in the pool, demands innovative steps. One option is to grade players according to his value to Indian cricket, instead of a simple performance based assessment.

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Given his standing, MSD would sit in the top grade despite not playing Tests or Ranji. Placing Pujara in grade one will acknowledge his role as a Test specialist and send a clear signal that India values Test cricket. The argument that he needs to be ‘compensated’ for exclusion from IPL is flawed because why should he or anyone be rewarded for failing to adjust to the shorter format.

As contracts define a two way relationship they must contain a ‘terms and conditions apply’ clause listing the responsibilities of players. The BCCI should use contracts as a management to include, for example, clauses that push captain Kohli’s fitness agenda.

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Lastly, while it’s great to sort out Team India contracts but spare a thought for the voiceless 1000 Ranji players. It is time their financial issues are addressed and state associations told to contract first class players.

(Amrit Mathur is a senior cricket writer and has been involved with IPL in official capacity)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

First Published: Dec 07, 2017 09:25 IST