Special Correspondent

Mumbai: The BCCI president Sharad Pawar has told a select gathering of former Test cricketers that included Madhav Apte, Polly Umrigar, Bapu Nadkarni, Dilip Sardesai, Ajit Wadekar, Chandu Patankar and Suru Nayak that even a seasoned politician for many decades involved in the administration of the State and country has been stumped by the cricket economics.

After releasing Bal Pandit's book on Test cricketers from Maharashtra and Mumbai, Pawar said: "The BCCI has marketed 25 off shore matches each for $ 8 million plus. This works out approximately to Rs. 40 crore per match. I don't understand this. But such is the power of cricket. The BCCI has entered into an agreement with the cricket boards of Pakistan, Australia, England, the West Indies to play one-day matches in Europe, USA, South East Asia and in UAE.

"As a politician I am always cautious when someone comes up with an expenditure proposal for Rs. 10 crore. My immediate response to the amount of money calculated for the pension for retired Test and first class cricketers and umpires was the same. But soon I realised that the BCCI's gross revenue for the next four years was going to be close to Rs. 4000 crore, which means Rs. 1000 crore per year."

The BCCI's working committee approved an improved monthly pension for retired Test cricketers, but not for the retired first class cricketers who have played in the Ranji Trophy. According to a BCCI source a special scheme on the basis of the number of first class matches played would be worked out soon.

Mr. Pawar said cricketers of past generations had not seen big money and comforts. "They sacrificed a lot. They did not bother about travelling by third class or first class or by air and also in the class of hotel they were going to stay. But they contributed to Indian cricket and played cricket for the love of it. The present day cricketers also play the game at the highest level with passion, but they are also interested in other aspects.

"I have not played cricket, but after reading a few pages in this book, I have found out that like politicians who join different political parties, cricketers also frequently change teams,'' said Pawar referring to some of the cricketers who have played for Maharashtra, Baroda, Gujarat and other states. Mr. Pawar said the book should be a good read for the young cricketers.

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