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Enter, cricket cash system

Calcutta, Sept. 26: The men in flannels now know what they are worth ' in cash, that is.

Cricket board chief Jagmohan Dalmiya today announced the much-awaited contract system for graded payments, which comes into effect from October 1. As of now, 17 players have been chosen.

Skipper Sourav Ganguly, vice-captain Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar are among those in grade A, which means an annual retainership of Rs 50 lakh each. Grade B will fetch Rs 35 lakh and grade C Rs 20 lakh.

'Three players can be chosen at any time of the year and will be included in Grade C and will be paid on a pro-rata (proportional) basis,' Dalmiya said. The contract system, the BCCI chief added, will be reviewed every year.

Even if a player is injured or falls ill while playing for the country or during training, he would get his retainership for the term. To be eligible for the contract, players need to have at least three Tests or 10 one-dayers under their belt.

Dalmiya said the players who make the first XI would be paid match fees according to the practice. Reserve players will get 50 per cent of the fees.

Sourav, who is part of the gradation committee, stayed away from today's meeting that finalised the figures. Dalmiya said he did not want to get involved with the sensitive issue when the side had important engagements ahead.

It was also announced that a player could have sponsors of his own, even if the sponsor is a competitor of the board's sponsor. But during matches, players will have to wear the logo of the BCCI sponsor.

For the team, there is something else to cheer about. Brett Lee, who had promised to welcome Indians with 'chin music' during their last tour of Australia, is a chastened man. 'Chin music' The only music coming from me would be from my guitar,' the fiery pacer, mauled in the drawn series, said in Mumbai, 10 days before the first Test with Australia.

But a cloud remained with Dalmiya saying if there is no live telecast, the Test status of the series could be withdrawn. The Supreme Court will hear the dispute over telecast rights tomorrow.

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