Committee of Administrators chief Vinod Rai has revealed that the decision to introduce the A+ category was taken after discussions with India skipper Virat Kohli and former captain MS Dhoni.
“This suggestion originated from Virat and MS in the discussions,” Rai was quoted saying by ESPNcricinfo.
“Their logic was this category would have only players featuring in all three formats, players who are in the top-10 rankings,” Rai said. “They wanted a category of pure excellence where you perform and you are rewarded. And hence the players would not occupy a permanent slot in this category because if you don’t perform then you slip down the order,” he added.
The BCCI announced a revised player contract and compensation structure on Thursday. The new structure saw all players in contention for an India spot receive a handsome raise.
Men’s contract structure
- Grade A+ (Rs7 crore, new category): Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shikhar Dhawan.
- Grade A (Rs5 crore, previously Rs2 cr): Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni, Wriddhiman Saha.
- Grade B (Rs3 crore, previously Rs1 cr): KL Rahul, Umesh Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma, Dinesh Karthik.
- Grade C (Rs1 cr, previously Rs50 lakh): Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Axar Patel, Karun Nair, Suresh Raina, Parthiv Patel, Jayant Yadav.
Five players shortlisted for the A+ category include Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shikhar Dhawan. “They wanted a category of pure excellence where you perform and you are rewarded. And hence the players would not occupy a permanent slot in this category because if you don’t perform then you slip down the order”
Rai clarified that the COA nor the BCCI management was involved in finalising the players and the shortlist was prepared by the national selection panel headed by MSK Prasad.
The report states that the players in Grade A were Test specialists who were in the top 15 of the ICC rankings. Grade B and C categories, meanwhile, include limited-over specialists.
In 2017, Rai along with fellow CoA member Diana Edulji met with senior players such as Kohli, Dhoni, Rohit and coach Ravi Shastri. The original suggestion for a revision in pay structure had come from former India cricketer and coach Anil Kumble.
Rai stated that the senior players and Shastri insisted that players like Cheteshwar Pujara, who do not feature in lucrative tournaments like the Indian Premier League should be compensated well.
“They said we don’t care how much money they get as long as the middle-level players are paid handsomely. That is a very fair thing to say.”