What's the story?
India domestic cricketers find themselves in murky waters even as the 2017-18 season beckons as the payments for the last season are yet to be disbursed. Owing to the standoff between the BCCI old-guard and the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), which has been tasked to implement the reforms recommended by the Lodha Panel, the distribution of funds from the board to the state units has been stalled.
Ranji cricketers are paid INR 10,000 per day for a four-day match. While those payments are made by their state boards immediately after the season, the remaining share of their fixed match fee, which depends on the domestic players' share in the board's central revenue pool, is paid to the state boards by the BCCI who subsequently distribute the salaries to the players.
However, after the court forbade the BCCI from distributing funds to the state boards, the financial stability of these players has taken a hit. It is not just the players who have been affected; the coaches, support staff, and even groundsmen have been hit due to the lack of funds with the state boards.
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In October 2016, the court dealt a body blow to the state associations by barring them from using the BCCI's funds until they agreed to implement the Lodha reforms in 'letter and spirit.' With the CoA and the BCCI still at loggerheads over the implementation of reforms, fund distribution for several state units has been a problem.
While bigger associations such as Mumbai have cash reserves to pay salaries to their players, half of the 30 members affiliated to the BCCI are short on funds.
"If we do not get the funds we are entitled to from the Board, how can we run the show. We have somehow managed the last year but now cricket has actually started suffering," a West Zone official told the Hindu.
The players have now been advised to write to the BCCI directly as the attempts made by the state associations have been rendered futile.
"Since the State bodies have not received money from the BCCI, they have told the Board to pay the players directly," an official from a South Zone association said.
Since the October judgement, there have been calls made by several state associations related to the lack of funds to organize the Test matches scheduled for India's 2016-17 home season. India played 13 home Tests last season and while all of them were organized without a glitch, the effects of the pay backlog are now being felt.
The CoA filed its fifth status report with the Supreme Court on August 22, following which the court issued show cause notices to top BCCI officials asking them to explain why the Lodha reforms were not implemented in their entirety even after a year of their ratification.
The court also asked three officials -- Amitabh Chaudhry (the secretary of the BCCI), Anirudh Choudhury (the treasurer) and CK Khanna (the acting president) -- to be present in person for the next hearing on September 19.
The other side of the tussle between the CoA and the BCCI, which has not been brought to the limelight often, is the logistical problems faced by the domestic cricketers and those at the grassroots.
Only recently, the CoA had revealed to the court the expenses incurred by the board in paying allowances to the honorary office bearers, and the amount was reported to be approximately INR 4.6 crore.
This begs the question as to whether those at the helm of affairs deserve to be paid -- for the responsibilities they have not managed to discharge since their appointment -- in a far greater capacity than the players who have already represented their states and who depend on their salaries to play the domestic tournaments this season.