Updated: May 9, 2020 8:47:12 am
Every year after the Ranji Trophy season, Chhattisgarh skipper Harpreet Singh Bhatia would spend the summer in England playing club cricket. On return, he would turn out in a few local prize money tournaments before the next domestic season. This year however, he is sitting at his rented home in Raipur getting restless due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
A one-time India under-19 World Cupper, Bhatia, 28, says it isn’t boredom that bothers him; his bigger worry is his rapidly exhausting savings and an uncertain future.
With the BCCI yet to clear last season’s match fees, dues to most domestic cricketers, and substantial arrears – pertaining to players’ share from Indian cricket’s annual earnings – pending for the last three years, Bhatia, like a majority of the 950 first-class cricketers affiliated to the world’s richest board, is facing a financial crunch. While a player is entitled to close to Rs 40,000 for each day of first-class cricket they played last season, the share from the BCCI, running into lakhs, varies each year. A regular player for his state unit can expect approximately Rs 10 lakh from the BCCI pie for a year, which means Bhatia expects a cheque of Rs 30 lakh.
“It doesn’t matter to those playing international cricket. But those who are dependent on only domestic cricket are certainly worried in these times. I am worried. I don’t have any IPL contract or a job. The domestic money which we earn never comes on time. We haven’t received our domestic match fees for last season till now. I’m yet to get three years’ gross money for playing domestic cricket,” Harpreet told The Indian Express.
The BCCI blames the lockdown for the delayed payments with treasurer Arun Dhumal saying the process of disbursal has begun with many players starting to get their dues. “The process has started. We have released payments to players, officials and state associations. Because of the lockdown, things are slow. Our staff verifies documents of 150 players and officials daily, after which we send out instructions to release the payments. There could be a few cases where some might have not got match fees, including old dues like gross revenue share, but they will be getting it soon. If the lockdown hadn’t happened, things could have been done faster. Those who haven’t received payments will be getting it in the coming days,” Dhumal said.
That would be good news for several cricketers, spread across the country, who The Indian Express spoke to. Aditya Tare (Mumbai), Tanmay Srivastava (Uttarakhand), Faiz Fazal (Vidarbha), Ishwar Pandey (Madhya Pradesh), Ishank Jaggi (Jharkhand), Upendra Yadav (Uttar Pradesh), Parvez Rasool (J&K), Arpit Vasavada (Saurashtra), Shreevats Goswami (Bengal) and Abhimanyu Singh (Baroda) confirmed that they are yet to receive match fees for the Ranji Trophy nor have they have got the complete ‘gross revenue’ payment.
Some players from teams like Gujarat, Karnataka and Delhi too confirmed they are in the same boat. Like Bhatia, they said that receiving their dues will be a big help at this juncture.
Bhatia also gave an insight into the income-expenditure imbalance he is juggling with these days. “Problems have started now. I used to travel to England to play minor county cricket in Yorkshire and used to earn a bit from there which used to help me, but that is not happening now. After playing for India under-19 and the Duleep Trophy, I still don’t have a job, so you can understand how tough it is to be a cricketer. Recently, I have shifted to Raipur in my rented apartment and if no cricket happens, things will become tougher. The biggest problem for a domestic player is that they don’t know when they will receive their match fees and dues. There is no consistency, no time period,” he lamented.
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