Sixteen-year-old cricketer Sidak Singh is sheepish about taking calls from his family as he dreads the moment when they ask him if he has received the outstanding dues from the Indian cricket board. In these COVID-stricken times, with his father’s cloth business under threat, it’s his money the family depends on to tide over the crisis.
Twenty-eight-year-old Harpreet Bhatia, captain of Chhattisgarh Ranji team, awaits the arrears of players’ shares from Indian cricket’s annual earnings. Bhatia is just one of the 950 first-class cricketers cooped up at home, waiting for some good news. Forget the accumulated money from the revenue pie, several first-class cricketers haven’t got their last season’s match fees yet. Several umpires and other match officials still await their dues from games held in January, February, and March. Welcome to the lockdown, where the world’s richest cricket board has shut the coffers.
The official reason given by the BCCI is the nationwide lockdown to contain the pandemic. But it doesn’t explain why players, umpires and referees have been waiting for up to three years for their earnings and rightful share of the revenue. Many haven’t got anything from the beginning of 2020. Most players are wary and embarrassed to raise the issue. But in these vulnerable times, several cricketers, especially the juniors and those in domestic cricket, are coughing politely.
These players can’t work from home, and a nagging apprehension about the future is descending on them. Sachin Tendulkar has recently told this newspaper that he hopes the BCCI would have an open mind in helping out those countries which have been financially worst hit by the COVID crisis. It’s a good sentiment, but the first step should start at home — not as an act of charity, but as acknowledgement of a right.
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