Contracts reflect form book, Harbhajan demoted
Off-spinner R Ashwin replaced out-of-form Harbhajan Singh in the top bracket of BCCI's central retainership contracts, while struggling pacer Ishant Sharma was also demoted from Grade A to B.
Harbhajan Singh and Ishant Sharma have spent the better part of this year out of the team, struggling for form and fitness respectively.
On the other hand, the 26-year-old Ashwin has played eight Tests since making his debut in November last year, grabbing 49 wickets while picking up 56 wickets in 40 ODIs. The elite Grade A features nine players this year, three down from last season.
With the retired duo of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman out of the equation, Ashwin was the only new name in the top bracket, the players in which are paid an annual retainership of Rs one crore.
The seniors, including Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Zaheer Khan retained their Grade A contracts. Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh completed the top category, all three retaining their contracts.
Of eight players offered Grade B contracts, only Rohit Sharma retained his. The list also features Irfan Pathan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara and Umesh Yadav, all of whom have been elevated from Grade C. The players in Grade B are entitled an annual retainership of Rs 50 lakh.
In the Grade C list, a demoted Ravindra Jadeja has replaced off-colour pacer S Sreesanth, who is coming off an injury. All-rounder Yousuf Pathan, pacers L Balaji and Ashok Dinda have come in replacing the likes of Jaydev Unadkat. In all, the BCCI has offered contracts to 37 players, which is the same as last year. Grade C players get an annual amount of Rs. 25 lakh.
Grade a: Sachin Tendulkar, M S Dhoni, Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli, R Ashwin