Call to set up ‘helpline’ for former cricketers

Former Vidarbha cricketer Amol Jichkar’s suicide prompts calls to set up an emergency fund for players in dire need of financial assistance.

The members of the committee, which was set up by the BCCI one and a half years ago to develop cricketing facilities in the North Eastern states, feel that it is time the Board did something to help retired players by creating an emergency fund.   -  Vivek Bendre

The news of former Ranji Trophy cricketer from Vidarbha, Amol Jichkar, committing suicide due to financial crisis has once again brought into focus the issue of pension for former cricketers who haven’t played the requisite number of matches to be eligible for the benefit. And surprisingly, the first call to set up a ‘helpline’ for former cricketers has come from the North East Cricket Development Committee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

The members of the committee, which was set up by the BCCI one and a half years ago to develop cricketing facilities in the North Eastern states, feel that it is time the Board did something to help retired players by creating an emergency fund. Speaking to Sportstar, the convenor of the committee, Naba Bhattacharjee, said: “Jichkar’s suicide should be an eye-opener. The Board has started pension policies for the Ranji Trophy players, who have played a minimum of 25 games. But what about the ones, who have just played only a few games?”

Jichkar played six Ranji Trophy matches for Vidarbha between 1998 and 2002, taking seven wickets at an average of 55. He was recently made a life member of the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA).

Citing instances of former cricketers struggling to make ends meet, Bhattacharjee said that the ‘helpline’ should be set up so that the players get financial assistance as and when required. “We have already spoken to a lot of Board officials about it, and we will take up the issue in the next BCCI meeting,” he said.

If necessary he will talk to the Committee of Administrators (CoA) in this regard, Bhattacharjee added.

According to the BCCI guideline, all Ranji Trophy cricketers who have played at least 10 matches before the 1957-58 season will get Rs. 15,000 per month. All first class cricketers who have played 25 to 49 matches up to the end of the 2003-04 season will get Rs. 15,000 per month, while those who have played 50 to 74 matches during the period will get Rs 22,500. Players who have featured in over 75 matches up to the end of the 2003-04 season will receive Rs. 30,000.

According to Bhattacharjee, unfortunate incidents like that of Jichkar only make the officials realise that a lot needs to be done for the cricketers, still. “There are many cricketers who don’t have proper education, and they also don’t have enough savings. So, what do they do in the time of crisis? The emergency fund will come as a boost for them,” he said.

Jichkar, based in Nagpur, was found hanging from a ceiling fan in his home on Tuesday morning. Relatives claim that the former cricketer was going through severe financial crisis after his restaurant business suffered losses.