New Delhi: India skipper Virat Kohli had spoken to BCCI ahead of the Champions Trophy and asked them to look into the financial condition of India players who play only one format of the game. And his vision is close to seeing the light of the day as Kohli will meet Committee of Administrators (CoA) chief Vinod Rai along with MS Dhoni and chief coach Ravi Shastri to discuss a restructured contract plan.
Top players saw their annual basic deals doubled to $300,000 this year. But the players want more after the board struck a new broadcast deal in September. The BCCI will get $2.5 billion from Rupert Murdoch’s Star India channel to show the Indian Premier League from 2018 to 2022. Player contracts expired on September 30 and salaries are one of the key negotiating points.
Speaking to CricketNext, a senior BCCI official who has had a few discussions with Kohli on the issue said that Kohli’s concern about players playing just one format and those playing Ranji Trophy made sense as the youngsters who play the IPL have their position taken care of, thanks to the immense popularity of the cash-rich T20 league.
“Just prior to the Champions Trophy, then head coach Anil Kumble had proposed a pay hike plan for centrally contracted player that also spoke about the captain getting paid extra for his role as leader. That is when treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry spoke to Kohli about the matter as it was hard to believe that a team-man like Kohli would be on the same page as Kumble on the captain getting paid extra for discharging the captain’s responsibility. In fact, Kohli went on to say that every player’s interest should be taken care of, but especially those who play just one format should be priority.
“Anirudh and Kohli’s thought process definitely match and he has come out with this proposal which not only looks at the interest of players like Cheteshwar Pujara — only plays the Test format — but also of Ranji Trophy players. It is an issue that was also brought up by Harbhajan Singh as he saw the poor pay structure in domestic cricket,” the official said.
In fact, the idea is to create a Test player fund wherein money will come through IPL auctions. Explaining the process, the official said: “We will have a cap on the fee for uncapped Indian players and foreign players. The franchise is free to bid for the player to any extent, but the player will only get what is allowed as per the cap and the rest of the money will go to the fund.”
Asked if this was also a move to ensure that young cricketers don’t start giving T20 cricket priority, the official said: “Well priorities are for the cricketers to decide. Our job is to pass the right signal and there is no two-way about it that we are as much focused on being the No.1 team in Test cricket as we are keen to dominate the 50-over and T20 format. There should be no wrong signal to any player that playing franchise cricket is more lucrative than playing the longer format.”
The trio of Kohli, Dhoni and Shastri will meet Rai in the Capital to discuss pay and the packed cricket calendar which the skipper has criticised. Kohli had hit out at BCCI, ahead of the second Test in Nagpur, for better planning of tours, especially ahead of an important series in South Africa starting in January.
India will finish their home series against Sri Lanka on December 24 with the third Twenty20 before leaving for South Africa on December 28. Kohli is to be rested for the one-day games against Sri Lanka. They are to play a two-day warm-up match starting December 30 before taking on the Proteas in the first Test from January 5.