MOHALI: Disgraced veteran batsman Cheteshwar Pujara and former Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane have been demoted in BCCI’s latest central contract list which was ratified by the Board’s Apex Council on Wednesday.
BCCI has four categories – A+ which has an annual remuneration of Rs 7 crore while categories A, B and C are valued at Rs 5 crore, Rs 3 crore and Rs 1 crore respectively.
Last time around 28 cricketers got central contracts but this year 27 got contracts with Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Static Jasprit Bumrah as A+ players.
As a result, Pujara, Rahane and Ishant Sharma, who were in Grade A, are now in Grade B, after a dip in form saw them pulled out of the next round of home Tests against Sri Lanka.
The fact that they will be downgraded was reported by PTI on January 20.
Group A, which previously had 10 players, is now reduced to five with Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul and Mohammed Shami retaining their places.
The biggest demotion, however, was for injury-ravaged all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who was dropped from grade A to C in the roster along with senior fly-half Shikhar Dhawan, who now only plays one format and c is the ODIs.
Controversial striker-keeper Wriddhiman Saha, who was dropped from the Test squad, will be even richer by Rs 1 crore after being demoted from Group B to Group C.
Saha, who breached the central clause of the contract through public comments on selection issues and statements about BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and head coach Rahul Dravid, was kept in Group C even though he has been made clear by the team management that he is unlikely to play for India again.
On the same day, the ratification took place, but it has long been decided that some of the non-performers will be demoted.
Spinner Kuldeep Yadav and pacer Navdeep Saini, who were part of the previous group, have been dropped from the roster altogether.
Mayank Agarwal, who has been inconsistent throughout, has now been downgraded to Group C from Group B.
Those who have been rewarded are Mohammed Siraj, who is now in Group B for his lionhearted performances while Suryakumar Yadav, under the required number of matches, is now in Group C.
Deepti, Rajeshwari promoted to women
In women’s central contracts, Deepti Sharma and Rajeshwari Gayakwad joined Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana and Poonam Yadav who were already in Group A which has an annual retainer of Rs 50 lakh.
Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami remain in Group B (Rs 30 lakh).
The trio of Jemimah Rodrigues, Shikha Pandey and Punam Raut who failed to qualify for the ODI World Cup squad, have been downgraded from Group B to Group C (Rs 10 lakh).
Locations finalized for South African series
The BCCI has also ratified five venues for the five-game T20 series against South Africa.
The matches will take place in Cuttack, Visakhapatnam, Delhi, Rajkot and Chennai.
The series will be played in June after IPL.
Abbey Kuruvilla becomes the new GM (Cricket Operations)
Former pacemaker Abbey Kuruvilla, who was appointed senior national manager last year, has left his post and is now the new Managing Director (Cricket Operations), a position vacated by Dhiraj Malhotra.
Malhotra quit a few months ago to join the Delhi Capitals.
Kuruvilla, who had beaten Ajit Agarkar to claim the position of West Zone selector, had to give up his position because the constitution stipulates that no national selector (junior or senior) can remain in office for more than five years.
When appointing Kuruvilla, it was not taken into account that he had completed four years as chairman of the Junior National Selection Committee, so all he had was one year.
T20 National Women from April 15
The National Senior Women’s T20 event, which has been postponed due to the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, will begin on April 15 and run until May 12.
The Apex Council also approved the running of the CK Nayudu Trophy from March 15 to May 1.