Onus on State associations to start annual retainer

When the BCCI decided to include the domestic cricketers under the revenue distribution umbrella a decade ago, the domestic cricketers got a fillip in their earnings from the game. However, the match-fees seem to have stagnated over the last decade, thus prompting the need for the State associations to start offering annual contracts.

India head coach Anil Kumble is understood to have highlighted the need to widen the players’ revenue umbrella so that the key stakeholders of the game can be rewarded better.   -  K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

During the BCCI’s annual captains and coaches conclave, the captains of a couple of prominent domestic teams had demanded that the remuneration of domestic cricketers should be at a par with their counterparts in Australia and England. The wish can come true with a combination of change in BCCI’s revenue distribution model for players and, more importantly, State associations starting to offer annual retainer to cricketers.

When the BCCI decided to include the domestic cricketers under the revenue distribution umbrella a decade ago, the domestic cricketers got a fillip in their earnings from the game. However, the match-fees seem to have stagnated over the last decade, thus prompting the need for the State associations to start offering annual contracts.

According to a Cricket Australia statement last year, for instance, the average state player receives A$ 99,000 (Approx. Rs. 47.52 lakh) as annual retainer from his respective state association. If a player is involved in 10 Sheffield Shield — the Australian first-class competition — matches and six one-day games, he can earn additional A$58,000 (Approx Rs. 28 lakh) on average.

Compare that with Indian cricket and all that the domestic cricketers earn is the match-fees from the BCCI. Over the last decade, the average match-fee a player earns, according to the BCCI formula, is around Rs. 30,000 per match-day. It means that a player who features in eight Ranji Trophy league matches, six one-dayers and five T20 games takes home approximately Rs. 13 lakh per year.

If the figure has to increase, the first step that needs to be taken is for the State associations to start offering annual contracts, similar to the ones offered by BCCI’s central contracts. Every association that fields a team in Ranji Trophy receives around Rs. 25 crore as annual subvention from the BCCI. It will not cost the associations a great deal to offer an average annual retainer of at least Rs. 10 lakh for 20 cricketers.

Match-fees calculation

Having said that, it’s high time the BCCI revises the structure of match-fees as well. At the moment, the BCCI claims it divides 26 per cent of its annual revenue into cricketers — 13 per cent among internationals, 10.4 per cent among domestic and 2.6 per cent combined to junior and women cricketers.

However, the fact is while calculating the revenue, the BCCI does not include income from the International Cricket Council’s central pool and the Indian Premier League revenue. This effectively means the only major source of revenue that is divided among cricketers is the surplus from broadcast rights generated for international cricket in India after deducting the production costs.

Moreover, 70 per cent of this surplus is divided equally amongst the State associations while the remaining 30 per cent is passed on to the players. This effectively means that the domestic cricketers end up earning a decent sum only when India plays more international cricket at home. In 2014-15, for instance, since India hardly played a series at home, the BCCI utilised money from its general fund to ensure domestic players don’t suffer financially.

India head coach Anil Kumble is understood to have highlighted the need to widen the players’ revenue umbrella so that the key stakeholders of the game can be rewarded better.

Distribution of match-fees
  • # Every player receives Rs. 10,000 per match-day for a first-class and one-day match and Rs. 5,000 for a T20 game at the end of every match.
  • # The remaining amount is paid almost a year later, since the annual accounts are first ratified in the BCCI AGM in September and then calculations are done on a pro-rata basis.
  • # This creates a lot of insecurity amongst domestic cricketers since they are in the dark over the amount he will receive as match-fees and is unsure about when the amount will actually be deposited into his account.
  • # Harbhajan Singh had raised these concerns in a letter to Anil Kumble, which prompted a discussion about the issue in the captains and coaches conclave.

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