What's the story?
According to a statement sent to the Senate by Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada, middle-order batsman Asad Shafiq has eclipsed the likes of Misbah-ul-Haq and Sarfraz Ahmed to emerge as the highest paid cricketer in the Pakistan team during the last four years.
While he earned close to PKR 111.9 million as match fee over the four-year period, Shafiq's annual salary was almost PKR 28 million. In terms of annual match fee, Mohammad Hafeez came second with PKR 24.3 million even as Misbah pocketed PKR 17.8 million. Current captain Sarfraz took home PKR 17.3 million while the technically adroit Azhar Ali earned PKR 16.1 million per year in the same time frame.
Overall, a combined tally of PKR 1.45 billion was paid to 71 cricketers who represented Pakistan in 205 international matches across all three formats during the last five years.
From November 2013 till present, Sarfraz played the most matches for Pakistan across all three formats of the game. While the wicket-keeper batsman took the field in 119 appearances, the likes of Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad played 112 and 101 matches respectively.
In sharp contrast, Shafiq played only 50 matches during the last four years. However, 35 of those were Tests which consequently swelled his annual match fee.
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Highest-Paid Pakistan cricketers from 2012 to 2016 (Courtesy: The Express Tribune)
(All figures mentioned below pertain only to annual match fees)
Asad Shafiq - PKR 29.6 million
Mohammad Hafeez - PKR 26.5 million
Misbah-ul-Haq - PKR 21.76 million
Sarfraz Ahmed - PKR 21.84 million
Azhar Ali - PKR 20.8 million
Highest-Paid Pakistan cricketers from July 2016 to June 2017
Sarfraz Ahmed - PKR 29.6 million
Azhar Ali - PKR 26.5 million
Babar Azam - PKR 21.76 million
Yasir Shah - PKR 21.84 million
Mohammad Amir - PKR 20.8 million
With the 3-match T20I series against West Indies at Lahore moved to March, Pakistan players do not have any international commitments until early next year. Sarfraz's troops are set to visit New Zealand for 5 ODIs and 3 T20Is. The tour begins with the first ODI at the Basin Reserve in Wellington on January 6.
As for the man of the moment, Shafiq could face a dormant international period until at least May 2018 as Pakistan do not have any Test matches lined up in the next six months. They are slated to tour England for a 2-Test series during the summer of next year.
A predominantly Test specialist like Shafiq becoming the highest paid player augurs well for the popularity of the game's premier format in Pakistan. However, it is surprising that he has earned more money than the likes of Misbah, Sarfraz and Azhar during the last four years.