What’s the story?
If the BCCI’s newly-proposed finance model is approved at the board’s financial committee meeting on October 13, all first-class cricketers and women cricketers may get a sizeable hike in their match fee. It has been proposed that the match fee of the senior domestic first-class cricketers be increased to INR 25,000 from the existing 10,000 per match day and the same for senior women be hiked to INR 12,500 from the existing 3,500.
The committee is expected to make structural changes to the new revenue distribution model and send it to the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators for ratification. One of the proposed changes to the model includes a revision of the annual retainer contracts for women.
Senior women cricketers are paid INR 15 lakh and 10 lakh in two player categories. This may be changed to INR 30 lakh in Grade A, 15 lakh in Grade B, and 10 lakh in Grade C if the said proposal is accepted.
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There had been calls for pay parity to be restored not just across genders but also across cricketers playing at different levels, especially the ones without an IPL contract. With the IPL governing player income like no other league ever had, players with international experience, who sometimes go unsold in the auctions, end up earning less from their domestic endeavours than the uncapped players who are roped in by the T20 franchises.
This move has been proposed to bridge this imbalance to some extent.
Cheteshwar Pujara, a Test specialist, went unsold in the IPL 2017 auctions and utilized the time off the game to play county cricket in the UK. If the aforementioned proposals are accepted, the 29-year-old would be earning as much as INR 2 crore, which is equal to the amount that he earns from his Grade A annual retainer contract. A Grade B player who goes unsold at the IPL auctions may earn approximately 1 crore.
The extra cash will be made available from a Test Player Fund that is proposed to be set up. The changes also mandate that there be a cap on the upper limit of the amount an uncapped Indian or foreign cricketer goes for in the IPL auctions. A franchise may bid more than the stipulated limit, but the extra amount would go to the Test Player Fund and not to the player.
The idea behind this move is to prevent the exodus of young players from first-class cricket due to the lure of cash-rich T20 leagues.
The match fee for umpires, match referees and scorers is also likely to increase. The umpires in the ICC’s Elite panel and the BCCI’s Elite panel would have their match fee increased by INR 5,000 per day to 20,000 per day.
While these changes look promising and make up for perceived disparities at various levels in cricket, it remains to be seen whether the changes are approved by the board and by the CoA thereafter.
The pay hike for women and senior domestic cricketers is a step in the right direction given the difficulties that professional cricketers in India are bound to face owing to a lack of finances. While India Women are without a central contract — the contract awarded for the 2015-16 season has already expired — an increase in per-day remuneration for domestic cricketers would prevent them from resorting to other career avenues or opting for T20 cricket.