The BCCI offered central contracts to 25 players for the upcoming season.
Just a few months ahead of the World Cup 2019, the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) Committee of Administrators announced the annual contracts for the Indian cricketers for the season 2018-19. The pay structure and slabs are the same as they were last year. They are divided into four categories – Grade A+, Grade A, Grade B and Grade C. These contracts are for the period from October 2018 and September 2019.
1. Virat Kohli – 7 Crores
The Indian skipper Virat Kohli, for the obvious reasons, retained his Grade A+ contract from last year. He leads the side across all the three formats and features in most of the games that they play. Kohli has been one of the most consistent performers for Team India.He is, more often than not, the lone warrior for the team in the batting department and was involved in many memorable wins. Kohli will get paid ₹7 crores for this period as a part of his contract.
2. Rohit Sharma – ₹7 Crores
Rohit Sharma is another Indian cricketer who got the ‘Grade A+’ contract. He is the vice-captain of the Indian team in the two limited-overs formats of the game. Furthermore, he is more or less a regular feature in the Test squad as well.During the defined period, Rohit led India to triumph in the Asia Cup 2018. He also took the responsibility of the side whenever Virat Kohli was rested. Sharma will have an important role to play during the World Cup 2019.
3. Jasprit Bumrah – 7 Crores
Jasprit Bumrah made his Test debut early in 2018 and has evolved as the leader of the bowling attack. He is easily the best in the business for the ‘Men in Blue’ at the moment. Be it any format, Bumrah has excelled at a consistent rate and has been the go-to man for the skipper.He is very effective with the red-ball and swings in both ways. He has got several tricks up his sleeve and his powers go up manifold when he has the white-ball in hand. Batsmen often find it the toughest to hit him for the big shots in the death over. For all his contributions, the pacer surely deserves a place in this price bracket.
4. MS Dhoni – 5 Crores
In case he decides to retire after the World Cup 2019, this could be the last BCCI Central Contract for MS Dhoni. The veteran cricketer has been one of the best servants of the nation in the sport for almost a decade and a half. While he was usually given the top pay-scale, his contract was downscaled last year.The ‘Grade A+’ is only for the cricketers who feature in all the three formats regularly. The Ranchi batsman had retired from Tests is 2015, and thus he has been on a ‘Grade A’ contract from last year. After a rough 2018, he has found some form while playing in Australia earlier in the year.
5. Ravichandran Ashwin – 5 Crores
Even though he has been ignored for the limited-overs formats recently, Ravichandran Ashwin is still India’s main-man in Test cricket. The off-spinner has been performing well in the longest format of the game both at home and overseas. Rewarding his consistent performances, the BCCI decided to retain his ‘Grade A’ contract.Ashwin will earn 5 crores per annum as a part of his contract. The off-spinner is quite innovative with his game.
6. Ravindra Jadeja – 5 Crores
Ravindra Jadeja was out of contention for limited-overs cricket until a few months ago. But an injury to Hardik Pandya during the Asia Cup 2018 earner him a surprise call-up. He has been around with the 50-overs squad consistently since then. He is quite an economical customer with the ball and also gives you wickets at regular intervals.Moreover, the southpaw is one of the most important members of the Indian Test set-up. He is rated one of the best all-rounders in the longest format at the moment and helps add a great balance to the side. Jadeja also will earn ₹5 crores this year.
7. Cheteshwar Pujara – 5 Crores
The recent Test success in overseas conditions would have been unimaginable without Cheteshwar Pujara. He is extremely patient and absolutely loves the longest format of the game. He had a crucial role to play in Team India’s first ever Test series win in Australia recently.Pujara can bat for hours together and muster a lot of runs. He often holds the batting line-up together in adversity and is hailed as the ‘modern-day wall’. India’s Test No.3 managed to retain his ‘Grade A’ contract from last year and will get paid ₹5 crores.
8. Ajinkya Rahane – 5 Crores
Ajinkya Rahane hasn’t been in the best of forms in the last year or so. Playing overseas, which was considered to be his forte, has ended up being a huge challenge. His consistency levels have gone down raising several questions.However, Rahane is a hard-working cricketer and always strives to improve his game. The right-hander doesn’t play much limited-overs cricket nowadays.
9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar –5 Crores
Over the last year, several injuries have hindered the progress of Indian pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Once an all-format player, Bhuvneshwar has only played a handful of games in the last few months. When was fit during the Australia Test series, the pacer failed to get a place in the eleven.Thus, his central contract was downgraded by the BCCI. From ‘Grade A+’ last year, he has now landed in the ‘Grade A’ category now. Thus, instead of ₹7 crores in the year, Bhuvi will now get a salary of ₹5 crores in the year.
10. Shikhar Dhawan – 5Crores
Shikhar Dhawan is another player who has struggled a great deal with his form. The left-hander has been highly inconsistent and failed to provide the team with good starts as he did earlier. As a consequence, Dhawan was also sacked from the Test team.Therefore, even his contract was downgraded from the top category to ‘Grade A’. However, Dhawan will try to give his everything for the team and could forge back into the ‘Grade A+’ next year.
11. Ishant Sharma – 5 Crores
Indian pacer Ishant Sharma is coming off age with his bowling. Even though he is quite talented and has been around for quite a few years, Ishant always struggled to maintain consistency. Yet, because he was one of the best options available at that point in time, the management was forced to persist with him.This faith that was put in him back then is now reaping rewards. Ishant has been performing quite consistently in the Test arena. Thus, his contract was upgraded from ‘Grade B’ last year.
13. Kuldeep Yadav – 5 Crores
Kuldeep Yadav is making rapid progress in international cricket. The chinaman is getting better with every outing in the middle and is learning new things about his game. The batsmen all over the world, even good players of spin, haven’t been able to decode Kuldeep’s variations.
14. Rishabh Pant – 5 Crores
Rishabh Pant has made quite an impact at the highest level ever since he was picked in the Test squad during the England tour. He has worked a great deal on his wicket-keeping technique and is a much complete cricketer now. The 21-year-old already has got a century each in England and Australia in Test cricket.With these top-notch performances, he might have cemented his spot in the Test team. In white-ball cricket, though, he has been slightly inconsistent.
15. KL Rahul – 3 Crores
KL Rahul has had a torrid time in the second half of 2018. The right-hander struggled to put bat to ball and had a miserable time. Despite getting several opportunities, he failed to repay the faith management put in him. Furthermore, as an insult to the wound, he invited a major controversy with some of the comments that he made on the talk show ‘Koffee with Karan’.
16. Umesh Yadav – 3 Crores
Inconsistency and Umesh Yadav go hand-in-hand. However, it isn’t this Vidarbha pacer who is at complete fault here. He has had his opportunities limited in the last few years even though he did well when he had a chance.This start-stop kind of career has somewhat affected his form and the sudden call-ups into the eleven didn’t do much good for him. Moreover, the management hasn’t backed him much and he was dropped from the side just after one or two poor shows.
17. Yuzvendra Chahal – 3 Crores
Many might have expected Yuzvendra Chahal to bag a ‘Grade A’ contract just like his spin twin Kuldeep Yadav. However, that didn’t happen as Chahal doesn’t ply his trade in Test cricket. He has been limited to white-ball cricket and hasn’t played all the games as a part of the team’s rotation policy with the spinners.Though, the leg-spinner made a mark whenever he has got an opportunity. He has retained his pay scale from last year. With some good performances in the next few months, Chahal will eye at an upgraded contract next time around.
18. Hardik Pandya – 3 Crores
In the period defined for these contracts, Hardik Pandya hardly played any international cricket. He got injured right in September 2018 and was thus ruled out for nearly two months. Then, when he made a comeback into the team during the Australia series, he didn’t get an opportunity in the playing eleven for the fourth Test.At this point in time, Koffee with Karan episode was aired putting a halt to his career. He then made a comeback in the New Zealand tour after his suspension was lifted.
19. Kedar Jadhav – 1 Crore
Kedar Jadhav has improved his game a great deal ever since he made his India debut. A veteran in domestic cricket, Jadhav is known for his unique and unorthodox shots. He hits the bowlers to such areas in the ground which are usually unimaginable. Moreover, he is a very handy bowler and picks up wickets at regular intervals.Batsmen usually find it tough against his low-arm, usual action. Jadhav thinks exactly like a batsman when he is bowling and that is what made with so successful with the bat. He is a regular feature in the Indian ODI side and takes the role of the finisher. It has been a while since this batting all-rounder played a T20I game and currently only features in one format. So he gets paid ₹1 crore for the year.
20. Dinesh Karthik – 1 Crore
Wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Karthik has played some high-quality cricket in the last few months. However, he hasn’t got as many opportunities as he’d like. There is high competition amongst the wicket-keepers in the country with MS Dhoni and Rishabh Pant around.Therefore, Karthik’s role has been limited and it remains an uncertainty if he finds himself a spot in the World Cup 2019 squad. Moreover, his contract has been downgraded for this year. He will earn ₹1 crore instead of the ₹3 crores that he earned last year.
21. Ambati Rayudu – 1 Crore
When the Indian team was struggling to find a reliable number four ahead of the World Cup 2019, Ambati Rayudu came up as the solution to the problems. He is capable of building an innings and can accelerate whenever required. Rayudu has got a wide array of shots and adapts to various conditions well.Even though he has struggled in recent times, he is just one knock away from finding his mojo back. Given that he has fared well for some time now, the BCCI decided to offer him a central contract. He plays only one format of the game and therefore is placed in the ‘Grade C’ bracket.
22. Manish Pandey – 1 Crore
It is quite a surprising call taken by the board to give Manish Pandey a central contract. This Karnataka batsman hasn’t played an international game since September last year. In the various opportunities that he got in ODI cricket, Pandey failed to create an impression and was thus axed from the squad.However, he has performed well at the domestic level and was always in the contention for a national call-up. This might have helped him retain his central contract this year. Like the other cricketers here, Pandey will earn ₹1 crore per annum.
23. Hanuma Vihari – 1 Crore
Hanuma Vihari, from whatever we have seen thus far, seems to be an extremely hard-working and talented batsman. He is a team player and is ready to do whatever the management asks him. He even opened the innings in Australia even though he didn’t have a great deal of exposure batting at that position.The 25-year-old played represented India in four Tests thus far and definitely has a long career ahead representing India. For the first time, Vihari was offered a central contract. The BCCI’s CoA placed him in the ₹1 crore slab and he would be looking to improve on that by the time next contracts are announced.
Apart from Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Team India has been hunting for the third pacer in the side for a long time before Mohammed Shami rose up to the occasion. In the process, Khaleel Ahmed was also tried out in quite a few games. The left-arm pacer bowls quick and seems to be quite talented.But, he is still a work-in-progress and there are several aspects of his game that are still to be improved. Khaleel could be one of the important bowlers in the near future. He needs to work on a few aspects like controlling the run-flow and bowling well at the death. As an incentive for whatever he has done thus far, Khaleel has got a ₹1 crore contract.
25. Wriddhiman Saha – 1 Crore
Since he only features in the Test team, he wouldn’t be in action again till the end of the World Cup 2019. Hence, his contract was downgraded by the cricket council in India. While he had a ‘Grade A’ contract last year, Saha is now a part of the ‘Grade C’ contract this year.
*Inclusions – Dinesh Karthik, Ambati Rayudu, Hanuma Vihari, Khaleel Ahmed, Wridhhiman Saha; Exclusions – Suresh Raina, Axar Patel, Karun Nair, Parthiv Patel, Jayant Yadav.
* – Inclusions and exclusions defined only for that particular category. A player might have been upgraded, downgraded or removed from the central contracts.