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Wednesday , September 28 2022

Kohli leads ‘pay rise’ call for India cricket players – Herath doubt for crucial 3rd Test

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NAGPUR, India, Nov 28, (AFP): National team skipper Virat Kohli has demanded a greater share of India’s growing cricket wealth for players ahead of contract talks this week, officials said.

Top players saw their annual basic deals doubled to $300,000 this year.

But the Indian squad, who are due to hold talks with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in New Delhi on Friday, want more after the governing body struck a huge new television deal in September.

The BCCI will get $2.5 billion from Rupert Murdoch’s Star India channel to show the Indian Premier League from 2018 to 2022.

Player contracts expired on Sept 30 and salaries are one of the key negotiating points.

A senior board official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that “the players want a raise” and that Kohli will lead the talks with former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and current coach Ravi Shastri.

They will meet BCCI administrator Vinod Rai in New Delhi to discuss pay and the packed cricket calendar which Kohli has also criticised.

“It’s always healthy to be transparent and that’s what BCCI is trying to be. Kohli and the players are always welcome to put their point across,” the official said.

Rai heads a committee of administrators appointed by India’s Supreme Court to run BCCI affairs and reform the world’s wealthiest cricket governing body.

Currently the national squad has three salary grades, with Kohli and other senior players at the top. “We have modified it and have started a process where we consult the players,” said Rai.

“We had two rounds of consultation and we will do another one just before the Delhi Test,” Rai, former Comptroller and Auditor General of India, added. India start the third Test against Sri Lanka on Saturday.

Rai has backed Kohli’s criticism of the scheduling of tours and the issue is expected to be discussed at the meeting.

Kohli had hit out at BCCI, ahead of the second Test in Nagpur, for better planning of tours, especially ahead of an important series in South Africa starting in January.

India will finish their home series against Sri Lanka on Dec 24 with the third Twenty20 before leaving for South Africa on Dec 28. Kohli is to be rested for the one-day games against Sri Lanka.

They are to play a two-day warm-up match starting Dec 30 before taking on the Proteas in the first Test from Jan 5.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka spinner Rangana Herath is a major doubt for the crucial third Test against India starting Saturday because of recurrent back problems.

The tourists have called up Jeffrey Vandersay in case the 39-year-old Herath cannot make the match in New Delhi, said team manager Asanka Gurusinha on Tuesday.

The veteran Herath bowled 39 overs of his left-arm spin in the second Test in Nagpur that ended with India thrashing the visitors by an innings and 239 runs.

“Rangana complained of stiffness in his back during the match. This happens to him whenever he tries to bowl a little faster,” said Gurusinha.

Herath had to be rested during Sri Lanka’s home series against India this year with the same problem.

“We are expecting a report on Rangana’s fitness from the team physio either tonight or tomorrow on whether he will be able to play,” added the manager.

Vandersay has played 11 One-Day Internationals and seven Twenty20 matches for Sri Lanka but has yet to make his Test debut.

The tourists have another spin option in left-arm wrist spinner Lakshan Sandakan.

Sri Lanka trail the series 1-0 after the first rain-hit Test in Kolkata ended in a draw.