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ON A day that Virat Kohli had to bat out of his skin to save India a Test on home soil, hundreds of other cricketers elsewhere in the country were indulging in ‘saving’ of a different kind. It was the first day of Ranji Trophy action since the Modi government decided to terminate Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes as part of their ‘fight against black money’.
It was also a unique Sunday across the country with banks remaining open well past sunset with long serpentine queues at their doorsteps.
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And as far as the hundreds of domestic cricketers involved in the Ranji Trophy go, the demonetisation drive has meant holding on to whatever ‘change’ they can from their daily allowance so as to avoid any hassle. That is if their respective association has managed to hurriedly arrange for enough notes in the valid denominations for the entire squad.
Or else, they have struggled like both the Goa and Vidarbha teams who are in action at Mumbai and Kolkata respectively. And it’s tough to say which of the two is feeling the pinch, quite literally, that much more. The Goans, who are battling Kerala at the Brabourne Stadium, are put up in a hotel that serves complimentary breakfast but no other meal thereafter. So that has left the players with no option but to order takeaway food from nearby restaurants, which has only compounded their predicament.
“Even if we order, we need change for Rs 500 or Rs 1,000. Somehow we are managing it. Few players have gone out and paid by cards. But it’s tough to go out each day just to pick up food,” says Goa coach Prakash Mayekar. “We really don’t have change as the daily allowance we get is Rs 1,000. Last night I requested my manager and he arranged for the change. But we can’t just keep asking our manager to do that every day,” he adds.
They are still slightly better off though than Vidarbha. Team manager Kishore Wakode doesn’t hold back in telling you that his team “is in trouble” since they have no cash left with them. To the extent that their association has contacted the Cricket Association of Bengal, which is hosting them at Eden Gardens in a match against Maharashtra, to chip in with some aid.
“We had been carrying our allowance for the first four matches. Now it’s gone. The problem is that even the CAB is complaining about not having enough currency notes to accommodate our request, which is understandable. So we will have to try and arrange for something,” says Wakode.
For their counterparts, the sudden withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes has meant staying put in their hotels and not being able to step out for dinner, which is often a nightly routine for players on the domestic circuit. The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) have asked their players who are presently in Mysuru playing against Uttar Pradesh to stick to ordering room-service and to simply bill it to their room. “We have told them that we will settle the bills later and say if some of them are keen on ordering from outside they can go ahead. We will reimburse that amount later into their accounts,” says MCA joint secretary Unmesh Khanvilkar. The MCA have in fact avoided giving them the DA in cash.
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“We don’t want our players to go stand in queues to exchange notes. Some of them are very well-known and it could cause a security hassle,” he adds.
Some associations like Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have decided to deal with the situation more pragmatically. They’ve either gone ahead and deposited the mandatory daily allowance into the players’ bank accounts or made arrangements to ensure they don’t have to face any inconvenience.
“The TNCA has made sure that the full-meal buffet is on the house as far as we are concerned. We still aren’t sure if it’ll be directly debited to the account,” says Tamil Nadu captain Abhinav Mukund.
Around this time last week, the Bengal players were spotted exiting Ferozshah Kotla Stadium in Delhi with face masks on owing to the smog that led to the cancellation of their match against Gujarat. But that cancellation has in a way turned into a blessing, as the unused DA from there is now at hand for Manoj Tiwary & Co. “The players had returned the money to the manager after the match was called off. We have 15 players and eight support staff in the Bengal team and DA per individual is Rs 1500. We will also credit their DA to their respective bank accounts,” CAB joint-secretary Avishek Dalmiya told this paper.
Fortunately, Kohli and his team had the luxury of having their DA paid in advance before the Test series, meaning they could focus solely on trying to keep the English at bay.
“Indian team players and support staff have been paid their full DA in advance, before the series. So there shouldn’t be any problem. As for England, they have agreed to make their own arrangements and will take care of it,” BCCI president Ajay Shirke told The Indian Express.