The Board of Control for Cricket in India on Wednesday (March 7) announced the addition of a new category (A+) for the centrally contracted players which includes the top players from the men’s team.
Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shikhar Dhawan – the five players who consistently feature across all three formats – are the first set of players to appear in this category and will fetch INR 7 crores in the contract period from October 2017 to September 2018.
In an exclusive interview with ESPNcricinfo, Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) chief Vinod Rai has revealed that the suggestion of rewarding the esteemed Indian cricketers with A+ contracts came from India’s current and former skippers, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni.
"This suggestion originated from Virat and MS in the discussions," Rai told ESPNcricinfo.
"Their logic was this category would have only players featuring in all three formats, players who are in the top-10 rankings. They wanted a category of pure excellence where you perform and you are rewarded. And hence the players would not occupy a permanent slot in this category because if you don't perform then you slip down the order," he added.
Rai further revealed that neither CoA nor the BCCI management was involved in shortlisting the players for each category. The decision was instead left with the national selection panel comprising MSK Prasad, Sarandeep Singh and Devang Gandhi. The selectors decided to included Test specialists and those in the top 15 of the ICC rankings in Grade A. It is also understood that the players kept in B and C categories are primarily picked for their ODI performances only.
As per Vinod Rai, senior India players and head coach Ravi Shastri wanted to make sure the "middle level" players, including the Test specialists, were sufficiently compensated.
"They said we don't care how much money they get as long as the middle-level players are paid handsomely. That is a very fair thing to say," said Rai.
This was also part of Kumble's plan, where he wanted the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, who do not play the cash-rich Indian Premier League, to be given a wealth security. The CoA and BCCI CEO Rahul Johri took these suggestions seriously and consequently devised the new player payment model.
"I said now the pyramid would be flat on the top. If you look at a corporate salary structure, the CEO gets an X-amount, which is easily at least five times that of his No. 2. So what we did is we had five players at the top of the pyramid earning INR 7 crore. The next step - Grade A - are getting INR 5 crore followed by Grade B at 3 crore and Grade C 1 crore," Rai concluded.