Perhaps the best thing that the BCCI has done in recent times is to hike the match fees given to players in First Class and List A matches. If i’m not wrong, first class players now get Rs. 2 lakh per game as match fees, and 1 lakh for List A games. Thus, if a player is a regular in his state team, he is assured of at least Rs. 15 lakh per annum, thus ensuring he can remain professional and not have to do a “day job”.
This is excellent in terms of option value for high school students who are good at cricket who are undecided if they should concentrate on their cricket career or if they should go to college and concentrate on studies. And this in turn leads to better quality of cricketers in the pool available for first class games.
For a fringe player, selection to the national team is a lottery. It is also a big step up from the Ranji game. And when you are an under 19 cricketer (unless you are Tendulkar of course; let’s talk about normal people here) there is little that indicates if you are going to be an international regular. However, your performances in school/college level and age group tournaments are an extremely good indicator of how well you are likely to do on the domestic circuit.
Now, the income that the domestic circuit offers means that it might be more profitable for you to concentrate on cricket and try and make it big, rather than giving up cricket and going to college. Even if you fail to make it big, you won’t end up doing too badly in life. So if you think you have a good chance of making the state team, you would rather go for it than playing safe and going to college.
And this means that several players who would have otherwise left the game (in the absence of reasonable income from playing domestic cricket) are available in the pool which makes it more competitive and raises the overall quality of cricket in the country, and consequently that of the national team.
At least the BCCI gets some things right.