Despite the uncertainty looming over the current domestic season, the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) has put in place an annual contract system for its top-30 players for 2020-21. Terming it a ‘scholarship scheme’, PCA finalised a list of 30 cricketers, including women, who will be given annual contracts for the upcoming season. This scheme will be placed before the BCCI’s Apex Council on August 8 and a formal approval will be sought.
The players have been divided into A B and C categories. Category A and B will have 10 players each who will be paid Rs 8 lakh and Rs 6 lakh per annum. Category C will comprise 10 U-19 players who will be given a monthly remuneration of Rs 10,000 each. Shubman Gill, Anmolpreet Singh, Mandeep Singh, Gurkeerat Singh, Siddharth Kaul, India women’s T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur and wicket-keeper Taniya Bhatia have been included in the A-list contracts. It will also include cricketers who played for India or India ‘A’ last season.
Wicket-keeper batsman Anmol Malhotra also has made the top list owing to his stupendous performance for Punjab in U-23 and Ranji Trophy last season. It should be noted that Harmanpreet Kaur is in the Grade A (Rs 50 lakh) while Taniya Bhatia is in Grade B (Rs 30 lakh) BCCI contracted players’ list too. There won’t be any contracts for U-16 cricketers.
“We appointed a sub-committee which included the PCA vice-president, secretary, joint-secretary and Punjab senior men’s team captain to finalise the players’ list. Also, we formulated rules and set parameters according to which this contract system will run in future. The players were rated keeping in mind their seniority and performances. We don’t want our players to feel handicapped due to financial restraints and just focus on the game,” said PCA secretary Puneet Bali, who pushed for the contract system after BCCI president Sourav Ganguly mandated it for all states.
If there is a curtailed season due to the ongoing pandemic, there could be deductions in the contract packages. PCA will release the final list of players on Tuesday. Former India cricketer Yuvraj Singh, who worked extensively with young cricketers during a three-week camp conducted at the IS Bindra PCA Stadium in Mohali recently, lauded this initiative and said: “It is a great step by PCA. This would provide the state players security and also encourage them. This overhauling would help cricketers grow and concentrate on their game. Also, one takes a lot of pride in representing a state which is looking after you like that. The players are thrilled by this move. Some players don’t have jobs and are dependent on match fees only. So this annual contract system would cover their financial needs to an extent.”
Punjab is only the second state cricket association after Uttarakhand to offer annual contracts to their cricketers this season. It is learnt they will announce the players’ details on August 13. “It is an incredible step taken by PCA. Such an initiative will boost the players’ confidence and they will be able to perform well. It sends out such a positive message to the players,” said Bhatia.
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