Dhoni, Virat proposed Rs 70 million A+ category for top players: Vinod Rai

Contrary to popular belief that Mahendra Singh Dhoni was relegated from the elite category of central contracts, it was the former skipper himself who wanted an A+ grade for top performers, says CoA chief Vinod Rai.

Twenty-six cricketers have been handed central contracts with skipper Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah being included in the Rs 70 million A+ category. Dhoni is in the A category with Rs 50 million annual retainership.

"This A+ category was proposed by the players themselves. We had a discussion about this category with Dhoni and Virat. They proposed that there should be category of world class excellence in which players who play all three formats of the game should be there," Rai told PTI in an exclusive interview.

The head of the Committee of Administrators said both Dhoni and Kohli wanted A+ to be a functional category to indicate who are the Indian team's top performers.

"This should be a functional category where players move in and out. Also it will show that the best in the business are rewarded as per performance."

What the former CAG found heartening was the camaraderie between Kohli and Dhoni.

"Their camaraderie is exceptional with so much mutual respect. Virat respects Dhoni's cricketing acumen and Dhoni respects what Virat is achieving as a player," said Rai.

In fact, Virat has told the CoA why he thinks Dhoni is irreplaceable in the limited overs set up as of now.

"Virat feels that there are no faster pair of gloves than MS Dhoni today. Also Dhoni's cricketing mind honed over so many years is an asset for Virat. As far as how many years of cricket is left in him, time and his performance will tell," he said.

Rai said that the best part about central contracts was that it ensured a decent earning for domestic players.

"These increases have been proposed in consultation with the players. Domestic players, who were getting Rs 1-1.2 million per annum, will now get Rs 2-2.2 million per annum in addition to the earnings from Gross Revenue System (profits from TV broadcast).

"Now with this kind of salary, domestic players can concentrate on their game without looking for jobs," Rai said.

There was a lot of anguish among BCCI office bearers at not being consulted and the finance committee being allegedly bypassed but Rai set the record straight.

"We discussed with players and we placed the proposal to the office-bearers. The package was there with them from September (2017) and there's nothing new in it. Finance committee did not meet is a fact but package was known to them," said Rai.

"They did not even have any comments to make. Finally when we again met the players (during Sri Lanka series), we showed them and they did it was reasonable. So we decided to put it out as players have contracts and their insurances are in place before IPL," he said.

The retired bureaucrat feels that while everyone is happy to call themselves cricket administrators, very few know the practical problems the players have.

"Nobody knows the plight of the cricketers than the cricketers themselves. They are interacting with cricketers everyday. In fact it was the cricketers who gave us names of former players who are facing difficulty in getting two meals together."

The CoA chief said no administrator should forget that they are there because of those 11 people who sweat it out on the cricket field.

"The only thing we should never compromise is cricketers' benefit. Whether it is the administrators or the media, we all sustain because 11 people play on the ground," he concluded.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel