Former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and senior off-spinner R Ashwin found themselves relegated from the top-paid bracket with the BCCI on Wednesday introducing an A+ category in the central contracts for which only five players, including skipper Virat Kohli, were picked. The batting troika of Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Shikhar Dhawan along with pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah were selected for the A+ category, which will ensure them annual contracts worth Rs seven crore each.
Dhoni and Ashwin have been bracketed in the A category along with Ravindra Jadeja, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Wridhhiman Saha. These seven players would be eligible for a contract of Rs 5 crore each.
While paceman Mohammed Shami's name has been withheld on allegations of domestic violence and adultery by his wife, veteran Yuvraj Singh and young Rishabh Pant have been omitted from the last list even as Suresh Raina makes a comeback.
Asked about Dhoni being kept out of the top bracket, a senior BCCI official told PTI:"It's a simple logic that selectors have applied. Play more and get paid more. The five in question are indispensable in all three formats right now. They deserved to be paid more. Also Ravi Shastri, Kohli and Dhoni have been taken into confidence."
Explaining the logic behind picking category A players, the official said, "The second group comprises players who are certainties in at least one format like Saha and Pujara.
They are in the second group because of their dependability in at least one format," he said.
"Dhoni has retired and Ashwin, Jadeja are no longer automatic selections in limited overs. They are as of now not in World Cup scheme. So in the second category," the official added.
The B category will feature KL Rahul, Umesh Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma and Dinesh Karthik.
In Grade C will be Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Axar Patel, Karun Nair, Suresh Raina, Parthiv Patel and Jayant Yadav. The Grade B category contracts are worth Rs three crore, while those in Grade C are of Rs one crore.
"The third group (B) comprises of players who are considered as floaters and can be put in anywhere and players who have played at least one match for India in the last one year have been put in Grade C," the official said.
The annual contracts are for the period from October 2017 to September 2018. From the previous Rs 2 crore (top category), the CoA-led BCCI increased it by 350 percent to make it Rs 7 crore. The second category has seen 500 percent rise at Rs 5 crore.
There was some good news for domestic cricketers as first XI players will now get Rs 35,000 per day in a four-day game making their match fees rocket from Rs 40,000 to Rs 1.40 lakh per match. Add to it the TV rights money will make their per match fee go up to Rs 3 lakh per match.
Among the women, World Cup stars Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana have been kept in the top bracket, under which the annual contract is worth Rs 50 lakh.
"The Committee of Administrators (CoA) was of the view that the performance and position of Indian Cricket needs to be recognised with the fee structure comparable to the best in the world," the BCCI said in a statement.
"The CoA recognises that the actual income of the BCCI fluctuates on an annual basis depending on the number of home matches Team India (Senior Men) plays. Hence, to insulate the player compensation, the CoA has sanctioned the creation of a 'Players Revenue/Compensation Equalisation Fund' (PR/CEF) to which the BCCI will contribute approximately Rs 125 crore per annum from its surplus," the statement read.
(With PTI Inputs)