The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have done what no cricket body could do for its former Test players — initiate a pension scheme and richly garnish it with a one-time payment to players who ended their careers before 2003-04.
That some long-serving first-class cricketers are set for a windfall too is nothing but good news.
However, various grey areas mar the latest act of generosity. From the Rs 70 crore which the rulers of Indian cricket have kept aside for the players, no announcement has been made about sharing the surplus revenue earned from the Indian Premier League with the widows of players.
So near, yet so far: Erapalli Prasanna (second from right), who fell short by one Test for the 50-mark will get Rs 15 lakh less than his three colleagues in the great spin quartet, S Venkataraghavan, Bishan Bedi, and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar
One learns that the BCCI top brass is open to look into their concerns, but the widows should have been part of the plan in the first place. This is something that seemed only natural and right to do, but sadly, there was a no-show of logic and justice when the high and mighty decided on the reward structure.
Although one cannot get too cynical about the categories - (one to nine Tests: Rs 35 lakh, 10 to 24: Rs 50 lakh, 25 to 49:Rs 60 lakh, 50 to 74: Rs 75 lakh, 75 to 99: Rs one crore and 100 plus Tests: Rs 1.5 crore), I couldn’t help agree with one former stalwart, who said it is a pity the great Erapalli Prasanna, who fell short by one Test for the 50-mark and will get Rs 15 lakh lesser than his three colleagues in the great spin quartet, Bishan Bedi, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and S Venkataraghavan.
Test umpires have been totally ignored. Come to think of it, some of them have represented India at World Cups and other international tournaments. They have to be satisfied with the Rs 15,000 monthly pension and plenty of them are 75-plus. Surely, they deserve a packet.
The BCCI’s media release on May 12 concerning these rewards didn't mention this, but one learns that those players who have had one-day internationals as benefit games will not be entitled to the ‘one-time benefit payment,’ the reason being they earned big bucks from those games. In fact, one of the reasons why the Board decided to reward players was because some of them were not able to get one-day internationals as benefit games like Srinivas Venkataraghavan, who has not been able to get a game.
Thus, players like Dilip Vengsarkar, Mohinder Amarnath, Syed Kirmani and Gundappa Vishwanath will not get a share of the Board's latest benevolence. While Vengsarkar would have gained Rs 1.5 crore for his 116 Test appearances, Amarnath, Kirmani and Vishwanath would have been richer by Rs one crore.
Considering the above exclusion, wonder whether the BCCI considered ruling out those cricketers who were cash-rewarded in the CK Nayudu Lifetime award.
Women cricketers too have been left out and believe they have a strong case to appeal. Now that the BCCI oversee women’s cricket, they must support them to the hilt and that includes rewarding and appreciating the efforts of the past and present women cricketers.
The more I talk to players who will benefit from BCCI's largesse, the more I am reminded of the sight of Winston Davis sitting on his wheelchair in Worcester, England. The former West Indies fast bowler, who toured India in 1983-84 and 1987-88 is paralysed neck down and is not exactly batting on an easy wicket.
BCCI has been terrific even in helping players with their medical expenses. Despite the 'one-time benefit payment' being imperfect, cricket's richest body deserves to be commended and complimented.
While sports minister Ajay Maken doesn’t miss an opportunity to slam the BCCI, he’d do well to acknowledge the cricket body’s deed.