In all 174 Test players and umpires will receive a monthly pension of Rs 5,000 for life, starting from the present month.
Overall the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) would be spending in excess of Rs one crore each year towards the welfare of former and present Test cricketers as well as umpires.
The cheques to these beneficiaries will be delivered on April 30. This is a special gesture by the BCCI to mark its platinum jubilee celebrations that fall this year. In one stroke, not even those who are impoverished but also the likes of megastars such as Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly would be receiving Rs 5,000 a month from the BCCI once they hang their boots.
According to a Board spokesman, this pension scheme is a gesture from the BCCI on the year of its platinum jubilee. The scheme, which the Board has been trying to put together for sometime now, will finally see the light of the day and there is a broad spectrum of cricketers and umpires who have welcomed it.
"That's not bad, it would come as a relief to so many cricketers," remarked former Indian captain Bishen Singh Bedi, just back from United Arab Emirates (UAE) where he did television commentary on the Indo-Pak series.
The monthly stipend would come as a big relief to former cricket legends like Mushtaq Ali and Salim Durrani who have little financial support coming their way.
For the likes of Bhagwat Chandrashekhar, the mystery leg-spin bowler whose fastish googlies used to bamboozle Test batsmen around the world, such a pension would be a great help.
The list, however, does not include cricketers who have represented India in One-day Internationals alone, players like Reetinder Singh Sodhi or Ramesh Powar.
The list would also not include scores of Indian umpires who have officiated only in the One-day Internationals.
Also barred from the list is former Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin.
Azhar, who is in dispute with the Board and has gone to court, has been blacklisted.
The benefit purse of Azhar, running into a few crores, has been withheld by the Board on the ground that the player has been banned for life for his alleged role in match-fixing saga.
The case is reverse with Ajay Jadeja who was banned for five years for similar reasons, yet fought it out in the court and has now been rehabilitated to the extent that he has even captained North Zone in Duleep Trophy this year.
Jadeja, according to BCCI spokesperson, will be eligible for receiving the pension.
The Board has also clarified that the monthly pension will be provided to Test cricketers and umpires as long as they are alive. Once they are no more, it would not be forwarded to their nominees.
BCCI, it is believed, has adopted this sympathetic attitude towards players and umpires after a few distressing incidents came to light in recent years.
The most famous was one of former India captain Gulab Ramchand who was financially handicapped when he died last year although BCCI did extend Rs 2 lakh to him towardsmedical expenses.