Two months since the conclusion of the 2020/21 domestic season, players haven't received their tournament fees and there is likely to be further delay. Interestingly, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is yet to fulfill its promise of financially compensating all the cricketers for the cancelled Ranji Trophy.
Amidst a raging first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, the entire country was put into total lockdown for more than two months. Even after that, the board couldn’t resume cricketing activities considering the threat to people’s lives. Thus, the Ranji Trophy, which normally starts in October, was pushed back indefinitely.
The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (20 overs) and Vijay Hazare Trophy (50 overs) were staged behind closed doors in January and February respectively this year. But with the home series against England scheduled to start on February 5, the BCCI, on January 30, decided to scrape off India’s premier domestic competition for the first time in 87 years.
The office-bearers, though, assured the players that they would be compensated for missing out on a major chunk of their income, which the Ranji Trophy usually generates. For the record, the first wave of the pandemic had led to a slight delay in clearing payments for the 2019/20 season as well.
When asked if the BCCI has rolled out any sort of compensation, Bengal cricketers Shreevats Goswami and Abhimanyu Easwaran said the promise hasn't come to fruition yet. What is more, the domestic cricketers haven’t received their fees for the two conducted tournaments as well.
“No, they said they will [compensate for not staging the Ranji Trophy] but nothing has happened yet. In fact, we haven’t gotten our match fees for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy as well,” vice-captain Goswami said in an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda.
“We have raised our invoices for these tournaments, we hope we get the payments because there are people who might be struggling to make ends meet. It’s just about being a little patient,” Easwaran, who will be travelling with the Indian Test side to the UK, said.
Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president Avishek Dalmiya threw light on the payments procedure, reasoning the entire process is running late since players are required to come in person and sign the statutory documents. But as things stand, some of the players are not being able to commute owing to the lockdown restrictions in the state.
“What happens is that the documentation has to be created and then every player is supposed to sign which is then sent to the BCCI, and then the BCCI directly pays the entire amount to the respective players. That documentation is under process...and that takes a bit of time because of the pandemic.
“This time also, local trains are not operating. In that case, we might pay the match fees directly to the players and then seek reimbursement from the board, exactly what we had done last year. But we will try to complete all the documentation by next week and then ask the board for payment,” Dalmiya told Sportskeeda.
It is further learnt that a similar situation is prevalent in most of the state associations. Under normal circumstances, all payments are cleared within two to three months of the conclusion of a season. As for compensating the players for the cancelled Ranji Trophy, the CAB chief said the BCCI is yet to act on it.
“No, we haven’t heard about it from the board yet. This is a call that the board has to take,” he stated.
To delve deeper into the players’ monetary losses, it is important to note that the BCCI pays the Ranji Trophy players INR 35,000 per day per match – which adds up to INR 1.4 lakhs per game – with the amount halved for those on the bench. The players also receive INR 1,000 as daily allowance (DA).
Now, assuming a player makes the playing XI for all the nine group matches – eight for Elite Groups A and B – he earns a notional INR 12-13 lakhs in the season. The number will surge further if his state progresses beyond the group stage.
For the limited-overs events, the players are entitled to receive INR 35,000 and INR 17,500 for each Vijay Hazare and Mushtaq Ali game respectively, with the DA the same as that of the Ranji Trophy. Thus, a player who plays all five group matches is set to earn INR 1.80 lakhs and INR 92,500 in each format respectively.
In essence, a regular player for any side is due to get paid a minimum of INR 15-16 lakhs, plus a small portion of the BCCI's gross revenue. But they haven’t received a single penny yet. With the BCCI now staring at losses worth INR 2,500 crore should IPL 2021 not resume, and the country reeling under a more devastating second wave, the crisis of the domestic players might just worsen further.
“The players are good, given the right backing and support, we will do well” – Shreevats Goswami
The Bengal side made the Ranji Trophy final in the 2019/20 season, for the first time in 13 years. But they have hardly tasted success since then, failing to move out of the group stages in both the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy at the start of this year.
Vice-captain Shreevats Goswami, however, doesn’t seem too bothered about the results. While lauding the efforts and quality of his players, the 31-year-old said the tournaments are structured in such a way that even a single loss hampers the chances of qualification for the knockout stages.
“As a spectator and a cricket fan, you can’t read too much into the results. The format is such that you have to win all games to qualify for the next round, so sometimes you just have to watch the match to understand. The format of the BCCI these days mandates us to win four out of five games.
“Sometimes it’s difficult in T20s because if one team picks momentum, then they go through. And sometimes you don’t and you’re struggling. Fans think the team has not qualified and hence they aren’t doing well. It’s not that – the players are good, given the right backing and support, we will do well,” Goswami elaborated.
The BCCI plans to kick off the 2021/22 domestic season with the Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament in September and has also allocated a three-month window from December for the Ranji Trophy.
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However, the board has decided to do away with the Duleep Trophy, Deodhar Trophy and Irani Cup for the second straight year. Additionally, five women’s tournaments have also been struck off the calendar.