The BCCI has come out with a sparkling new endeavour to keep Test cricket at the top of the pay-structure. The move comes as an attempt to keep India's up-and-coming generation of cricketers interested in the longer format of the game.
During the BCCI's Gradation Committee meeting in Chennai on Nov 11th, the board had radically reassessed and reworked the match-fee structure, along with reducing the list of contracted players from about four groups of 40 to three groups of 24.
For the period October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011, the Test match fee has been been upped almost three-fold from Rs 2.5 lakhs per match ($5500) to Rs 7 lakhs ($15,500) per Test. The ODI fee has been taken up from Rs 1.8 lakhs ($4000) per match to Rs 4 lakhs ($8900) and the T20 fee doubled from Rs 1 lakh ($2200) per match to Rs 2 lakhs ($4400).
The endeavour comes with the purpose of reasserting the pertinance of Test cricket along with making the difference between the earnings of Test and ODI players much wider. It appears to make sense therefore, that the Grade A players earn Rs 1 Crore ($220,000) annually have proven to be the key-men behind India's Test success.
In 2009, India played just six Tests but finished off the year as the world's No. 1 team. To ensure that M S's Dhoni group remained at the top, the BCCI called South Africa and Australia for a two-Test series each, which was not included in the ICC's Future Tours Programme. India's phenomenal rise in the Test rankings is connected with the BCCI's focus on the long format.
This re-examination meant trying to re-apportion the BCCI's revenues given out to players. According to the BCCI's rules, 26% of the BCCI's annual revenues is handed directly to the players, of which 13% goes to the internationals. By last year's pay scale, a VVS Laxman could earn Rs 25 lakhs for playing 10 Tests, but an ODI specialist, Praveen Kumar for instance, could earn Rs 54 lakhs for 30 ODIs.
The restructuring of the graded contract also serves to establish an equilibrium between the three forms of the game. The overall pay-structure hike serves two purposes: it separates the elite players from the rest of the pack. BCCI secretary N Srinivasan told the Hindustan Times, "To to be a contracted player is a big thing, so we felt that one has to really perform to earn it, it's not an easy club to get into."
Between now and the end of its tour to Australia in 2011-12, India would have played 15 away Tests, under one of the most favourable match-fee scales in the world. It remains to be seen whether with this new and improved retainership, India will continue its dominance in the Test arena.