Cricket fraternity split over domestic cricketers' fee hike

In reality, the announcement of raising domestic players' match-fees to Rs. 35,000 per match-day could serve only as a change in mechanism

Veteran Wasim Jaffer.   -  V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

“The Domestic Match fee structure will witness an over 200 per cent hike in each category.”

That's a claim in the BCCI statement, issued on the instructions of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) on Wednesday while announcing the much-delayed player contracts for 2017-18. In reality, however, the announcement of raising domestic players' match-fees to Rs. 35,000 per match-day could serve only as a change in mechanism and not result in much of a pay-hike when it comes to actual income of domestic cricketers.

Read: Bumrah to receive Rs. 7 crore annually

The BCCI pays domestic cricketers in two instalments. While Rs. 10,000 per match-day is paid on a match-by-match basis, the remaining – calculated on a pro-rata basis based on the share from the BCCI's gross revenue share (GRS) after the annual accounts are ratified in the AGM – is paid just before the start of the next domestic season.

Since GRS is directly proportional to volume of international cricket in India, the share of domestic players varies every year. Over the last decade, never has it fallen below Rs. 25,000 per match-day. Considering the BCCI has earned around Rs. 1,100 crore and Rs, 1,000 crore from the broadcaster for 2016-17 and 2017-18, respectively, the total daily amount paid to domestic cricketers would be between Rs. 35,000 and Rs. 40,000 per match-day. Since the AGM has not been held for two years, the accounts are not ratified and the amount is not disbursed for the last two seasons.

With India supposed to play very little at home in the forthcoming season, the domestic players' income was projected to drop to sub-30,000 level for 2018-19. It will now be taken care of with the hike in fixed match-fees. “The 200 per cent hike is nothing but an eyewash. Players will continue to earn the same, just that they will be paid up front rather than waiting for the accounts to be ratified,” said a BCCI insider.

The CoA think-tank defers with this view. While CoA chairman Vinod Rai refrained from commenting, a source close to CoA stressed that the new system will be effective. According to him,  since the GRS share will also be passed on to the players, it would mean they are in a “win-win situation”.

Senior cricketers are not impressed. Wasim Jaffer, nine-times Ranji Trophy winner, feels the BCCI should raise the match-fees more. “It's a welcome step but not an ideal one. The need of the hour is a steeper hike,” Jaffer, the highest run-getter in Ranji Trophy, told Sportstar.

“If you want domestic cricketers to take up cricket as a profession, a player who plays the whole season should make around Rs. 20 lakh only through match-fees so that he can focus only on cricket and not bother about a job,” “India being the richest world body should also ensure that the domestic cricketers are taken care of just like some of the other major cricketing nations.”

Technical staff kept waiting

While the CoA has revised the match-fee structure for domestic cricketers, some of the other personnel who are responsible for the smooth functioning of domestic crickete are kept waiting for a revision in remuneration. The BCCI panel umpires, scorers, video analysts and curators are long overdue for a pay hike but the proposal has been pending for well over a year.

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