After the announcement of the annual list of centrally contracted players by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on April 15, many of the big names made it to the list. However, it came as a surprise to many as the name of T Natarajan was missing from the list, as he didn’t qualify the criteria to get awarded with the central contract.
According to CricTracker, the criteria set up by the cricket governing body of India, in order to qualify to get the central contract, a player must play a minimum of three Tests or eight ODIs or 10 T20Is in a season. Additionally, players who play all the three formats on a constant basis directly get an A+ contract by the BCCI, which earns them a hefty Rs 7 crore a year, which only includes the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Jasprit Bumrah. Apart from the highest A+, players from Grade A get Rs 5 crores, while players in Grade B get Rs 3 crores. The last category Grade C gets Rs 1 crore. These contracts are decided by the BCCI president, secretary, and the chairman of the selection committee.
Despite Natarajan’s phenomenal bowling performance during the Australia tour, which he earned after impressing the cricket fraternity through his breakthrough performance in IPL 2020, he couldn’t achieve the contract. The reason being the failure to meet the criteria set by BCCI, where he fell short of the number of matches played, playing just 1 Test, 2 ODIs, and 4 T20Is this season.
Similarly, players like Prithvi Shaw, who only played one Test has also not made it to the contract list. However, playing in more than three tests, Shubman Gill made it to the list by featuring in the Grade C. Along with Shaw and Natarajan, Suryakumar Yadav and Krunal Pandya too missed out on the list of annual BCCI contracts.
Nevertheless, if Natarajan happens to feature in just two more Tests in England ahead this year, or plays in 6 T20Is or ODIs before September 2021, he will be included in the central contract list, with the same applying to SKY and Pandya.