Raised Eyebrows: Cataracts or Contracts?

Team India Player contracts for the 2007-2008 season have raised a few eyebrows — most notably, the retention of Irfan Pathan in Grade B and the allocation of Zaheer Khan in Grade C!

This could be seen an ill-deserved boon for Pathan and a demotivator for Zaheer Khan. After the irresponsible and messy Coach-Gate fiasco, which resulted in the choice of septuagenarian Chandu Borde as Manager of Team India, and the team selection for the tour of Ireland and England, which has left the team moderately imbalanced, the last thing India probably needed was for the only experienced fast bowler in the team to be demotivated. Well, what lack of fitness and lack of form could not do, the BCCI has achieved in one fell swoop! When the BCCI is able to dish out regular doses of upper-cuts to the Team and to its chances, why does the team need to play oppositions at all? There is a better opposition for Team India in the BCCI itself.

So, what is wrong with the gradation system?

Well, for one it relies almost entirely on performance in the last year and not at all — to the best of my knowledge — on future potential. Moreover, the contracts are for only 17 players. Surely, the BCCI — the Worlds’ richest cricketing body — can do better than that?

This is either a case of short-sightedness or lack of vision. Someone needs to rid the BCCI of its cataract and cancer. Or else we will see a continuous and relentless internal hemmoraging of Indian cricket.

At the moment, Dinesh Karthik, R. P. Singh, V. R. V. Singh, Robin Uthappa, Ishant Sharma, Romesh Powar, Piyush Chawla, Rohit Shama, Ranadeb Bose, et al do not have a contract. And these guys are on the plane to Ireland and/or England. Manoj Tiwary, Cheteshwar Pujara and S. Badrinath — players with identified and acknowledged potential — do not have a contract.

Australia, in its list of 25 players, has guys like Cullen Bailey (SA), Daniel Cullen (SA), Brad Haddin (NSW), Ben Hilfenhaus (Tas), James Hopes (Qld), Phil Jaques (NSW), Mitchell Johnson (Qld), Chris Rogers (WA), Adam Voges (WA) and Cameron White (Vic). Clearly, this is an investment to the future! Some of these guys haven’t played an ODI or a Test! They have also retained faith in Jason Gillespie (SA) when he hadn’t played either an ODI or a Test match in the immediately previous year! This shows foresight, courage, planning and process-cleanliness.

I know I have been going on for a while about systems and processes in Australia. That is how they got to where they’ve got to in World Cricket. If they had sat on their fingers — as the BCCI tends to do — the only thing they’d have got is ring marks on their collective backsides — which is what the BCCI has a lot of!

Surely, the BCCI can increase the contracted player list to 25. Surely the BCCI could come up with a system that assures contracts to players based on both performances in the last year as well as future potential!

Even Pakistan is thinking of delivering a contract-list of 25 players.

The main rule that discriminates the contracted lot from the non-contracted lot for Team India is the one that says that “Any player who plays a minimum of five Tests or 15 ODIs during a season automatically qualifies for a Grade C contract for the following season”.

So, Dinesh Karthik, R. P. Singh, V. R. V. Singh, Robin Uthappa, Ishant Sharma, Romesh Powar, Piyush Chawla, Rohit Shama, Ranadeb Bose, et al could still bag a contract. However, they are not on the starting blocks and that is grossly unfair, in my view. Potential has been discarded with a view to rewarding past performances. A contract should recognise future potential as much as it does past performance. Someone needs to tell the BCCI lemons that one should not drive a car merely by looking at the rear view mirror!

Another beef I have with these contracts is that they are nine months late! They are effective from October 1, 2006 and will expire September 30, 2007. What are the BCCI officials doing if they cannot administer a player-contracts-process in an efficient and clinical manner? Yes, there were disputes relating to a percentage share of revenues, etc. But there are few contract processes that are sans dispute and negotiation. That is a fact of life. To have a contracts-system that is delivered 9 months late is a terrible shame.

Finally, the actual gradation of a few players indicates that there are a few people who are asleep on the wheel on the BCCI bus. How can someone like Irfan Pathan score a Grade-B contract when Zaheer Khan languishes in Grade-C? Even Ajit Agarkar, Zaheer Khan’s Mumbai-mate, who has done precious little in the last year, finds himself in Grade-B!

The graded players are:

  • Grade-A (Rs 50 lakh/yr plus match fee): Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble, Yuvraj Singh, M. S. Dhoni.
  • Grade-B (Rs 35 lakh/yr plus match fee): V. V. S. Laxman, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar.
  • Grade-C (Rs 20 lakh/yr plus match fee): Gautam Gambhir, Wasim Jaffer, Sree Sreesanth, Zaheer Khan, Suresh Raina, Munaf Patel.

M. S. Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh have moved up from Grade-B to Grade-A. This is perhaps understandable. It is also perhaps a sign to both that a lot more is expected of them in terms of commitment and responsibility.

Virender Sehwag, V. V. S. Laxman, Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan have dropped from Grade-A to Grade-B. These are understandable too. Irfan Pathan, Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh are not on the plane to England. Moreover, their form has dropped off considerably and worryingly over the last year or so. Laxman’s drop to Grade-B is perhaps understandable. His ODI career is all but over.

Mohammed Kaif and Murali Kartik are out of contracts. And that is understandable too and they have been replaced by Wasim Jaffer and Munaf Patel.

Overall, this has been yet another shambolic performance from the BCCI.

— Mohan


10 responses to “Raised Eyebrows: Cataracts or Contracts?

  1. There is a scathing article by Bishen Bedi, about Sunil Gavaskar, as a bad influence for Indian Cricket, Gavaskar who w2nts all control and “no accountability”.

    Apparently, Mukul Kesavan, whose writings I like, has questioned Sunil Gavasakar in NDTV on his role in the media , writing newspaper columns, and he is also knows all the inside detail – since he is in all technical committees.

  2. sampath kumar

    Current grading system is a recipe for Kerry Packer style WSC in India–watch this space and Dalmiya–with help from Dean Jones!!!

  3. Hello, I don’t agree on VVS laxman to Grade B for that matter all of the guys in Grade B except Agarkar who supposed to be in C grade. Just for your info the grades were decided based up on the performances between 2005 and 2006 , laxman comes with 599 runs in 11 tests where as Ganguly comes with 155 in 4 tests. Why he has been given Grade A if they have considered the last year performance. If they are only couting One-dayers then why kumble is in Grade A… so I don’t think there is any logic followed in the grading…they are pure politics… If you want I can come with more stats…

  4. Valid point Praveen and that was one of my beefs with the system as I’d pointed out in the article. I perhaps didn’t express myself as clearly as I might have! Why deliver a retrospective-view contract valid from October 2007 to September 2008 that has a retrospective view of performances from October 1, 2005 to September 30, 2006! That was the point about being 9 months late in the delivery of the contracts! Moreover, what happens to the performances from September 30 2006 to August 20 2007? Is that null and void? Does it not count for much.

    Of course, this would explain why Zaheer Khan remains in Grade-C and why Irfan Pathan is in Grade-B.

    But surely, this is a terribly shoddy result for any bunch of administrators, leave alone a bunch of lemons that are sitting on a huge pile of money! If they couldn’t do it themselves, they could have hired some of very the best consultants in the land to deliver a clean set of contracts. If they couldn’t do that, they should have sponsored a Class-V project to a mediocre school in the land! The kids from that school may have done a better job!

    What an utter shame…

  5. Good question – Zaheer the spearhead of the Indian pace attack – Grade C and Irfan who is not even selected – Grade B ??

    Some of the selected players like Karthick (was toured SA and WC 2007) or RP Singh, VRV Singh, Romesh Powar not in the list ? What is the message conveyed to them ?

    Which Einstein made this list ?

  6. This contract is based on the performance of players from September 2005 to september 2006 and will expire on 1st october 2007.

    So again the wrestling of whether to keep contracts for the players or scrap them altogether will start. If India do well in Ireland/England, the board will have to relent or else they’ll delay once again waiting for the players to fail and scrap the contract system and stop giving them a certain percentage of the board’s revenue!

  7. sampath kumar

    we are all really mug punters
    Those on B level will earn the difference of 15 lakhs in advertisements and appearance money in no time–now that some of them have more time on their hands—and legs like Pathan, Bhajji et al!!!!

  8. Please do not say anything agianst the BCCI as you might have read in a letter to the players BCCI mentioned ” Indian cricket (board) is going through a difficult phase….” so sympathise with them. The palyers had it easy they just lost a couple of matches and they had their houses attacked and stupid things said about them but thats nothing compared to which the board had to go through so stop cribbing and send them some flowers.

  9. what has zaheer khan done to deserve a b grade contract? u ppl were not worried when the captain and coach did soo many injustice to irfan.the bcci too….now atlast bcci gave a bit respect to the best talent of world cricket..and u ppl r against it.how many match has zaheer won so that he get a b grade contract.nothing!in this lean patch also,irfan has won matches for india.and its his captain’s stupid decisions that he couldn’t play a single match in world cup.indians have never respected this talent as much as others do…..

  10. Pingback: Player contracts… « i3j3Cricket :: A blog for fans of Indian cricket…

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