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Hope money is not the incentive to play Tests: Rahul Dravid reacts after BCCI announces incentive scheme

It’s just nice that how tough Test cricket can be is being recognised, the India chief coach said after the 4-1 series triumph over England.

Shortly after India sealed a 4-1 series victory against England to extend their Test dominance at home, BCCI announced a ‘Test Cricket Incentive Scheme’ that aims to reward excellence in the five-day format. The decision comes on the back of a recent perception about certain youngsters in India not being motivated enough to push for a Test berth amid the lure of T20 cricket and Indian Premier League (IPL). It is pertinent to add, however, that the likes of Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Dhruv Jurel and Sarfaraz Khan have all shown the drive and desire to play a starring role in the series against England.

India’s head coach Rahul Dravid during a training session (PTI)

As an example, this move will mean players featuring in more than 75% of Tests in a season will earn ₹45 lakh per match over and above their match fee of ₹15 lakh. Asked what a financial incentive to spur players for Tests reveals about the current climate, India coach Rahul Dravid said he sees it differently.

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“I really hope money is not going to be the incentive to play Tests. It’s just nice that how tough Test cricket can be is being recognised. So, I wouldn’t see it as an incentive to make people play Test cricket, I hope not. I hope it never really comes to that. But I think it is just probably a recognition that this is a tough format,” Dravid said.

Dravid cited the example of R Ashwin, who featured in his 100th Test, to highlight that top performers in this format should be celebrated more. “It takes a special person to do what Ashwin has done. You go through a lot, and rightly so. You guys celebrated Ashwin today, and Jonny Bairstow, you’ve celebrated (Ben) Stokes a few games ago. Because I think all of you recognise how challenging the format is and what it takes to be able to have consistency and to be able to survive the test of time in this format. We don’t celebrate 100 T20s in the same way, do we? But yeah, it is nice that BCCI is recognising it,” said the 51-year-old former skipper who played 164 Tests.

Another issue closely linked to this is the congested schedule of the Ranji Trophy, India’s premier first-class competition. As all-rounder Shardul Thakur pointed out after starring in Mumbai’s semi-final victory over Tamil Nadu recently, a gap of just three days between matches right through the tournament is taxing on the fast bowlers in particular.

Dravid admitted the domestic calendar may need a relook. “I saw some of the comments from Shardul. Some of the boys who’ve come into the team also comment about how tough the domestic schedule is, especially in a country like India with the amount of travel involved. So yeah, we need to hear the players because they are the ones going through the grind and putting their bodies on the line.

“If there are enough voices saying that, there’s some need to look at it, and see how we can manage our schedules. The Ranji Trophy is a long season, and if you add Duleep (Trophy) and Deodhar (Trophy) on top of that… Maybe we need to see whether some of the tournaments we are conducting are necessary in this day and age. There needs to be an all-round review (involving) coaches and players, especially the guys who are part of the domestic circuit,” he said. Dravid also said the India door is not shut on Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer despite their exclusion from BCCI’s list of centrally contracted players for the 2023-24 season.

“They’re always in the mix. Everyone who’s playing domestic cricket is in the mix. Firstly, I don’t decide contracts, right? Contracts are decided by the selectors and the board. I don’t even know what the criteria are. There are enough examples of people playing different formats of the game, whether they have contracts or not. No one’s out of the picture, it’s just a question of hopefully them getting back and fit, playing cricket, and forcing the selectors to pick them again,” he said.


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