While India’s elite cricketers continue to wait for their revised salaries based on the central contracts they signed on March 5, CoA member Diana Edulji has laid the blame for the delay squarely on acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary.
Speaking to The Indian Express on Thursday, Edulji expressed her disappointment and surprise at the contracts being stuck with the office-bearers and also revealed how the players had been worried about their remuneration from before the IPL.
“The players were worried that they were not getting their dues. And we couldn’t pay it till the contract is signed. The IPL was coming and we had to do the contracts because insurance was a big issue. And with the IPL workload, if we could have had some problems, like in the past we had with Yuvraj Singh and Ashish Nehra, whose dues we as CoA cleared,” she said.
“The contracts are still stuck with them. The financial year is coming to an end. The players’ agents are ringing us up that they have to fill their returns and pay advance tax. Though the players know their grade, they can’t take it for granted till it’s in black and white,” Edulji added.
Choudhary, meanwhile, cleared the air about his decision to not sign the new contracts, stating that he hasn’t had the “legitimate authority” as yet to do so. He reiterated his view that he was waiting for the general body’s approval at the SGM that is scheduled to be held in New Delhi on Friday to go ahead with it.
“I follow the law and the law is laid out. I follow the law of the subject and I follow the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s orders. With this, I can only sign after I have the legitimate authority (general body’s approval). I will not delay one second; the moment I have the legitimate authority,” Choudhary told this paper while adding, “Despite all impediments, the SGM goes on.”
Former BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah agreed. The cricket board’s old hand will not be part of the SGM but he feels the members need to “revisit” the new player contracts. “It has to be revisited. Domestic cricket is most important and the domestic players must have enough money to survive,” he told this paper.
Edulji though didn’t buy into Choudhary’s insistence on having to wait for a go-ahead from the general body. She even cited a similar scenario from last year to drive her point.
“The secretary’s carrying it with him. Last year we changed the contract a little, and it was ratified by the SGM. It was signed earlier. So why not now? He’s come to the BCCI office and the CEO and legal people have gone and requested him. ‘Yeah, yeah I will sign’ he said. He took it with him to Bangalore for the Awards ceremony. He still hasn’t signed it and we don’t understand the reason. It will eventually come to us putting our foot down,” she said. There have been some voices within the BCCI who have put the significant increase in the players’ retainer contract figures to Virat Kohli & Co having their way with the CoA members. But Edulji refuted.
“I wouldn’t say that. I don’t see anything wrong if they demand for the performance. India is No.1 in Tests. This money has been brought by them. The public and sponsorship is not coming in for the BCCI and the CoA. There is no arm-twisting at all. They didn’t want to take advantage. It wasn’t like ‘they are ready to spend the money, let’s get 50 players on board’. We don’t want to just dole out contracts like that. Let them earn it,” she explained.