India news May 17, 2017

Harbhajan asks for contracts for India's domestic players

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India's domestic players earn anywhere between INR 80,000 and 100,000 per first-class match © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Offspinner Harbhajan Singh has asked for India's domestic cricketers to be given contracts in order to ensure their financial security. The uncertainty over income, according to Harbhajan, was forcing some players to reconsider their future in the game.

To ease such concerns, Harbhajan sought the intervention of India coach Anil Kumble, who is scheduled to meet the Committee of Administrators and BCCI office bearers in Hyderabad on May 20 and 21 to discuss the contracts of the international players.

Harbhajan said he became aware of the issue while playing for Punjab over the last few years. "I hate that I've found constant struggle around me in the financial situation of my first-class team-mates," Harbhajan told Kumble in a phone message reported by PTI. "Even though Ranji Trophy is hosted by the richest cricket board in the world, I appeal to you as a player, who is an inspiration and role model for all Ranji players."

Harbhajan told Kumble that former India players like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag needed to push for a hike in the match fees of domestic players. "Imagine in today's day and age, how can you call yourself a professional if your 'job' doesn't even tell you how much you will earn yearly?" he wrote. "How can you sign up and commit your life to a job which doesn't promise you a fixed income every year. And that too, you are paid one year after you complete your work."

It is understood that Kumble acknowledged Harbhajan's message and said he would look into the matter.

The issue came to Harbhajan's attention when a former Punjab team-mate highlighted his plight. Harbhajan realised the player had no money to support himself or his family. He was still young but not playing anymore, having been injured for two years. Harbhajan said the player had no insurance if he got injured during the season.

"The guys can't even plan their future because they don't know whether they would earn Rs 1 lakh or Rs 10 lakh in that year, and it leads to huge issues in their lives and families and (affects) state of mind," Harbhajan said. "Anyway, let's try and gently make a change for our brothers."

According to Harbhajan, other countries have a support system in place for domestic players, something that the BCCI also needs to consider.

"An international player has a contract, he has everything. But there are domestic cricketers I have played with who don't have money to pay EMI," Harbhajan told ESPNcricinfo. "There are some who played just two matches in which they did not perform well and then were in doubt about playing in the next season."

Harbhajan said he would be happy to talk with the COA if given an opportunity. "We need to make sure that the domestic players earn enough to run a household. We need to have domestic contracts in place, regardless of whether the cricketer plays or not. In case the player gets injured, the state association should bear his expenses and assure him about his future on his return."

A BCCI official agreed with Harbhajan but said it was the responsibility of the state association to create such contracts. "The BCCI does not have any control on the selections of players and such stuff. It is the state associations that manage that. The BCCI only pays the money to players."

The money paid to domestic players is in the form of two components: the match fee and a percentage of gross revenue from the media rights income the BCCI earns annually from the home season. The match fee is not standard and depends on the media rights income. The BCCI allots 13% of the media rights income to domestic players and junior cricketers. Domestic players get 10.40% and the rest goes to the junior cricketers. On an average, a domestic player might earn anywhere between INR 80,000 and 100,000 per first-class match.

Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • AbhijeetDongre on May 20, 2017, 5:39 GMT

    Critics of Bhajji seem to miss a simple point. His net worth must be at least Rs 100 crore. What he is asking for players is 1000 times lesser than that and that too will happen long after his retirement. So clearly he is not doing it for his financial gains. He may be doing it to better his PR or even to reduce his rich man guilt. Even this is rare because he has often gone out of his way to help other players like sponsoring kits of Afghanistan team. Immaterial though in my opinion. He has raised an important point and I would love other big and influential players to support him like they supported Indian participation in Champions Trophy.

  • D.S.A on May 19, 2017, 13:51 GMT

    @livelifeup: "...he is rich beyond what anyone can give him now. He is only doing this for the others...". How very naive. So no rich person/business ever wants more money because they already have enough and it would be absurd to accuse them of wanting more due to greed as they cannot possibly be greedy at all?! Lol. Incredible. Open your eyes. For him, it is about money and PR.

  • D.S.A on May 19, 2017, 11:16 GMT

    Wow, I can't believe certain people have clearly missed the obvious. When the average person commits a selfless act, it is normally for charitable reasons. When an athlete commits the same act, but has cameras and photographers around, to capture the moments, it is clearly an act for THEIR benefit, rather than the person/people who are being helped. "Bhajji" (as you affectionately call him) is clearly making this noise because he knows he will benefit from it, either in positive PR (as people have proven on this forum in abundance!), monetarily from the salary increases that he now wants to see being implemented, or both! It is noble to want poorer people to earn more, but it is ridiculous that he is the one that is asking for it on 'their' behalf, as he is clearly going to be a beneficiary as well. Oh, how convenient! Look how that turned out! There is ZERO nobility in his actions.

  • christinjacob95 on May 19, 2017, 8:11 GMT

    Every Country players & board is fighting for higher wages. Austrailia, England,West Indies,India,South Africa & Sri Lanka. I hope all the cricket boards would resolve the deadlock.

  • Midfielder1 on May 19, 2017, 2:36 GMT

    Players at the lower level should be paid more. They are the building blocks of a good team. The top players will make money anyway. Lower players should be encouraged and nourished. Thank you for bringing it up Bhaji. Proud of you. Kumble himself is a great person and I have full confidence in him in helping these players out.

  • PG65 on May 19, 2017, 1:17 GMT

    It is truly commendable on the part of Bhajji to speak up on an important issue of player remuneration at the domestic level. This is the life blood of the national team which seeds players to play internationally. These are the unsung heroes who toil for a pittance with no contracts, ad money etc. & are poorly rewarded. The BCCI is a body which has Rs 5,000 crores in FD's alone along with other sources of massive income which need to be disbursed equitably & not just meant for mean junkets of it's high handed officials. Cricketers are also humans who need financial security in an unpredictable world. If a player has played at the Ranji level he or she needs to be rewarded with a handsome pension as well. Some have suspected ulterior motives on the part of Bhajji but I think he has highlighted a genuine concern & needs to be supported. I sincerely hope the BCCI is listening.

  • Cpt.Meanster on May 18, 2017, 20:25 GMT

    I feel sorry for some trolls here who are quick to abuse, and criticize Bhajji. I am no fan of Bhajji but what he's trying to do here deserves appreciation. It's the least he or any cricket 'star' can do for the lesser known "hidden gems" of Indian domestic cricket who do not have a national or IPL contract. This is close to my heart because my dad's cousin was an ex Ranji cricketer from Karnataka back in the 70s. Believe it or not, the pay package hasn't changed much in the last 35 years. Outsiders can only see the glitter of the IPL or the razzmatazz of the Indian national team whenever they play. But the real diamonds of Indian cricket are toiling every domestic season in front of empty stands with not much pay during the hot Indian summer out of pure passion and love for the game. Bhajji is advocating for them. God bless you Bhajju paa.

  • livelifeup on May 18, 2017, 17:45 GMT

    Ranji pay has not changed in over 10 years, domestic players deserve a 100% raise from current pay levels for sure given the increases in cost of living. Bhajji has made a massive fortune from playing cricket and still making from IPL, he is rich beyond what anyone can give him now. He is only doing this for the others playing domestic cricket that dont have IPL cusions - those are saying he is doing it for his greed are just plain ignorant. He is a very generous soul - I remember in 2010 he sponsored new cricket gear for entire Zimbabwe team when he saw what they were using.

  • HadesLogic on May 18, 2017, 17:24 GMT

    @JOHN SMITH, comedy gold indeed when posters can't even comprehend an article written in plain English but are quick to post on it. A second read would do you no harm.

  • Cricklife on May 18, 2017, 15:56 GMT

    Recently i met one of the player who played Ranji Cricket for Karnataka for about 2 seasons. He is a business man now. Though it was a business meeting while I met him due to my passion for the game, I recognised him and we had a good business and Cricket discussion over an hour. I asked him though his performance was decent why he choose to leave the game and he mentioned that, after playing for 2 seasons he realised that he can't make good living out of cricket unless he play for the country which was not a possibility given the quality of cricketers around him. As I know he was a decent player (it is not easy to represent your state unless you are good) he could have easily played for the state for next few seasons but he chose business instead of cricket. He is well settled business man now & not sure he would have been as wealthy as he is now had he continued to play the game. Harbhajan has done a good job by bringing up the issue and hope it helps the players and the game as wel

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