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It’s shocking payment system hasn’t changed in domestic cricket since 2004, says Harbhajan Singh in letter to Anil Kumble

The Indian Express logoThe Indian Express 18-05-2017
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Out of favour India spinner Harbhajan Singh has called on the Indian cricket team coach Anil Kumble to discuss with the BCCI administrators the current disparity between the fees to a domestic player and that to a Test player. Kumble is due to give a presentation the Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), which is taking care of BCCI’s state of affairs, on pay structures of contracted Indian players. The former India leg spinner is scheduled to give the presentation on May 21 and bring into account the current contract which has the elite players earning Rs 2 crore, Rs 1 crore and Rs 50 lakh based on the grades allotted.

The elite Indian cricketers earn handsomely and even domestic players with an IPL contract are able to get by with lucrative contracts. But the situation becomes dire for domestic players in the Ranji and Duleep Trophy who earn Rs. 1.5 lakh a match as compared to Rs 15 lakh a match for the elite players.

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In a letter addressed to Kumble from Harbhajan, the Punjab Ranji player has highlighted his interactions with junior players and the insecurity with taking up the sport. “It’s been last 2/3 years (that) I am playing Ranji Trophy. I hate that I’ve found constant struggle around me in the financial situation of my first-class teammates. Even though Ranji Trophy is hosted by the richest cricket board in the world, I appeal to you as a player, who is an inspiration and role model for all Ranji players,” he is quoted in a report by news agency PTI.

“I request you to please take this up with the top brass of BCCI and players like Sachin (Tendulkar), Rahul (Dravid), (VVS) Laxman, Viru (Virender Sehwag) to ensure that a change is brought about in the pay structure, in the amounts they get paid. I am willing to help/assist in any way to help bring in a change. It’s shocking to say the least that the payment system hasn’t been changed since 2004. Imagine the value of 100 rupees then and now. It is so different,” the letter says.

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“Imagine in today’s day and age how can you call yourself a professional if your ‘job’ doesn’t even tell you how much you will earn yearly? How can you sign up and commit your life to a job which doesn’t promise you a fixed income every year. And that too, you are paid one year after you complete your work.

“The guys can’t even plan their future because they don’t know whether they would earn Rs 1 lakh or Rs 10 lakh in that year and it leads to huge issues in their lives and families and (affects) state of mind. Anyway, let’s try and gently make a change for our brothers.”

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Harbhajan said the time he’s spent with youngsters in local cricket’s dressing room has helped him realise the difference and brought to light the situation. He added that things improve for those who get IPL contracts but not everyone who goes into the kitty gets a bidder. “If I wouldn’t have played domestic cricket during last four-five years, I wouldn’t have known what an average domestic cricketer goes through. Not everyone has a job. By God’s grace, if they get an IPL contract their lives improve.

“I have achieved enough because of cricket and I have been fortunate to play close to 400 international matches in India. I am not talking for myself but those who are grinding it out at the domestic level.”

“But how many get IPL contracts? There will be hundreds of domestic cricketers who will not play for India or have an IPL contract but they are also cricketers just like any top India cricketer. They also have families, dreams, aspirations. This is a request that these domestic cricketers are also looked after,” he concluded.

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