Experience and performance will rule

CHENNAI, MAY 20. In a move that could have a significant impact on Indian cricket, a gradation system of payment to the National cricketers will be introduced within the next few months, Mr. A.C. Muthiah, president, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), revealed here on Sunday.

In a telephonic interview to The Hindu, Mr. Muthiah emphasised that there would be a place for both experience and performance under the new format.

Mr. Muthiah also said that he would be attending the meeting of the Asian Cricket Council in Lahore on May 24, and felt that there should be no hitch in India meeting Pakistan during the Asia Cup tourney. ``The Sports Minister, Ms. Uma Bharati, has already made this clear.''

The BCCI chief pointed out that the gradation system would provide an incentive to the cricketers to perform even better, and added ``the players wanted this.''

He denied that there might be a rift between the youngsters and seniors in the side over differing payments. ``Everyone will be encouraged to give his best. The influence will be positive.''

Also in place could be a contract system along the lines existing in Australia and England. Mr. Muthiah said the contracts could extend up to three years. This might take a little longer before being implemented, though. ``Under this, someone like Anil Kumble, who is missing matches due to an injury, would be paid a subsistence amount,'' Mr. Muthiah said. Players, rested for certain games, could also be compensated.

It may be remembered that Indian captain Sourav Ganguly and master batsman Sachin Tendulkar had a recent meeting with BCCI representative Prof. Ratnakar Shetty on the subjects of gradation of payments and contracts.

Since both these stars will be involved in an overseas campaign, the BCCI might hold further talks with a senior player like Kumble, according to Mr. Muthiah.

The proposals will be studied further before being implemented to the satisfaction of both the Board and the players. The matter would come up before the working body meeting of the BCCI.

Mr. Muthiah also dwelt on the benevolent fund for retired players and umpires. ``They will receive a pension. This is already in place.'' And those suffering from serious ailment will receive a maximum of Rs. three lakhs for treatment. ``The BCCI is committed to the welfare of the cricketers,'' Mr. Muthiah concluded.