Indian stars get contracts back

New Delhi, June 17:

India’s cricketers will head for a tour of England on Wednesday with their annual graded contracts back in place following a flip-flop by the sport’s administrators.

The Indian cricket board had cancelled the graded contracts — ranging from $49,000 to $122,000 — after the team’s humiliating first-round exit from the World Cup.

The BCCI instead suggested a flat annual retainer of $24,400 besides the usual match fees and hefty win bonuses. But the graded contracts were re-instated following negotiations last week between the BCCI and players’ representatives, led by captain Rahul Dravid.

The contracts for 17 players, announced on Sunday, will date back to October, 2006 and remain valid until September 30 this year.

Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Irfan Pathan were demoted from the elite Grade A to Grade B. VVS Laxman was also taken off Grade A, which now includes Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Mohammad Kaif and Murali Kartik were not given contracts, while Munaf Patel was handed a Grade C contract for the first time.

India are scheduled to play three Tests and seven one-day internationals on the England tour which commences in mid-July.

Before that, India will play three one-dayers against South Africa and one each against Ireland and Pakistan in Belfast and Glasgow from June 23 to July 3.