Jasprit Bumrah has been included in Grade A+ of the BCCI centrally contracted players, which gives him an annual retainer of Rs 7 crore. (Image credit: BCCI Twitter)
Jasprit Bumrah has made giant strides in Indian cricket ever since he burst onto the scene during India’s tour of Australia in 2016. His magnificent death bowling and his ability to nail Yorkers at will as well as his durability in Tests has marked him out as an asset. His performances in the Test series in South Africa, England and Australia promoted him as the new spearhead of the Indian bowling attack. On Friday, Bumrah has gotten a new promotion as he has been elevated to the Grade A+ contract where a player gets a retainer of Rs 7 crore. Bumrah is one of only three players to be in the Grade A+ contract, along with Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
Bumrah was the bright spot for India in their tours of South Africa, England and Australia. In Johannesburg, Bumrah’s first five-wicket haul helped India salvage some pride as they lost the series 2-1 while in England, his five wickets in Trent Bridge helped India win their only Test in the tour. In Australia, his exploits in Melbourne helped India win the Boxing Day Test for the first time as India won a Test series Down Under.
Along with Bumrah, the other notable promotion is Rishabh Pant, who has been elevated to Grade A which has a retainer of Rs 5 crore. Pant made his debut in the series against England and he impressed with a century at The Oval. In Australia, he blasted 159 in Sydney and took a joint-world record 11 catches in the Adelaide Test. His sledging behind the stumps earned him a cult following in Australia. Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who were part of the Grade A+ contracts in the 2017/18 season, have been demoted to Grade A.
Kuldeep Yadav, who has been India’s ace spinner ever since 2017, taking 24 wickets in six Tests and 82 wickets in 41 ODIs, has also been elevated to Grade A. Kuldeep is the only Indian bowler to take a five-wicket haul in all formats in the same year and he will be a key part of the Indian cricket team in the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2019.
No Prithvi Shaw, Mayank Agarwal
In the entire list of 25 central contracted players, there were two major omissions. Prithvi Shaw, who blasted a century on debut against the West Indies, has been left out while Mayank Agarwal, who slammed two fifties in the Melbourne and Sydney Tests in Australia, has also been left out. Shaw was forced to miss the entire series in Australia after he suffered an ankle injury during the warm-up game against Cricket Australia XI at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul in Grade B
Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul’s international careers were at the crossroads following their comments on the show Koffee With Karan hosted by Karan Johar, a prominent Bollywood film director. Pandya and Rahul were called back from the series in Australia and the Committee of Administrators (CoA) looked to take strict action. However, Pandya came back for the third game against New Zealand in Mount Maunganui while Rahul played for India A in the series against England Lions. Despite all the uproar, Rahul and Pandya have been included in Grade B which has an annual retainer of Rs 3 crore.
In Grade C, which has an annual retainer of Rs 1 crore, there are players like Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik and notably Wriddhiman Saha. Saha, who is currently undergoing rehabilitation for a shoulder surgery, has fallen back in the pecking order following the exploits of Pant. There is also Khaleel Ahmed and Hanuma Vihari in Grade C along with Ambati Rayudu.
The Indian players who have been omitted totally from the contracts list are Suresh Raina, Parthiv Patel, Karun Nair, Murali Vijay, Axar Patel and Jayant Yadav.
The BCCI also released the list of retainer contracts for the Indian women’s cricket team. Poonam Yadav, who was the leading wicket-taker for India in Twenty20 Internationals in 2018, has been awarded with a Grade A contract which has an annual retainer of Rs 50 lakhs. Poonam is only the fourth player in the Grade A list along with Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana. Jemimah Rodrigues, who has been touted as the future of the India women’s cricket team, is in Grade B with an annual retainer of Rs 30 lakhs.