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Kirmani & Co. to soon pick 20
- Provision for win-bonus in contract, but players won’t have to ‘pay’ for below-par performances

Calcutta: The Board’s senior selection committee, headed by Syed Kirmani, will soon be asked to pick 20 cricketers who (in a precedent-setting move) are going to be offered contracts.

They will be slotted in three tiers with the annual retainership being worth Rs 60 lakh for category A, followed by Rs 30 lakh and, then, Rs 15 lakh.

Given the delicate nature of the task, who fits where will be determined by Board president Jagmohan Dalmiya, Kirmani and Team India coach John Wright.

As was reported in these columns some weeks ago, those outside the playing XI (but in the XIV/XV) will receive only 50 per cent of the match fee (both in Tests and ODIs). It’s going to be a significant (and welcome) departure from the existing practice of the payment being uniform.

Gradation, though, is being kept away from the XI which takes the field.

Moreover, unlike the present arrangement, there won’t be a distinction between the basic match fee and the logo component, which is added from the sponsor’s contribution. In other words, there will be one head.

The Board, one understands, “intends” to have contracts in place before Team India leaves for Australia in the third week of November.

Till recently, the Board was planning to introduce them before the start of the on-going series against New Zealand. Quite a few factors, however, forced this delay.

“Now, it’s a matter of time before the selectors are asked to name their 20… In the meantime, the Board’s lawyers will draft the dos and don’ts and that will be referred to the senior pros,” a well-placed source told The Telegraph on Monday evening.

Earlier in the day, Dalmiya interacted with the players specifically on the contracts’ issue for the first time.

The president met four seniors (captain Sourav Ganguly, vice-captain Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble) and three ‘special invitees’ (Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan) for over two hours at a New Delhi hotel.

The ‘special invitees’ came on board to make the interaction more “representative.” Apparently, the senior pros themselves chose Harbhajan, Sehwag and Zaheer.

Also present was Prof. Ratnakar Shetty, the Board’s joint secretary, who has been in the ‘negotiating’ team from the very beginning. This process, it may be recalled, was initiated by Dalmiya’s predecessor (A.C. Muthiah) in the summer of 2001.

It’s interesting that the Board has been dealing directly with the seniors, without opening a dialogue with the year-old Indian Cricket Players’ Association. In any case, it hasn’t recognised that body.

The Board, as already announced, is committed to earmarking 26 per cent of “gross earnings” towards paying the cricketers. Exactly half of that will go exclusively towards the Internationals.

Meanwhile, contrary to whispers, the contracts won’t have a clause whereby below-par performances will actually cost the players dear.

A win-bonus formula, though, has been discussed and will definitely be incorporated.

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