CHENNAI: With India’s domestic season starting next week, there is finally some good news for the players, umpires, match officials and scorers. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), during its Apex Council meeting on September 20, is all set to come up with a compensation package for the curtailed 2020/21 season. There are also strong indications that the Ranji match fee will also be increased from Rs 1.4 lakh to anywhere between Rs 2-2.5 lakh beginning with the upcoming season.
Soon after taking charge as BCCI president, Sourav Ganguly had floated the idea of state units bringing a contract system for the domestic cricketers. With many players suffering because of a curtailed 2020/21 season which had no room for Ranji Trophy, a contract system would have ensured everyone got their usual share of income. Instead, players who feature only in Ranji Trophy are without pay since March 2020. Although the BCCI had been maintaining that a compensation package will be rolled out for domestic cricketers, umpires, referees, video analysts and scorers, the process has been very slow. And the working group formed by the BCCI met only a fortnight ago, after nearly 50 days since its formation to decide the way forward.
The group comprising Rohan Jaitley (north zone), Yudhvir Singh (central), Jaydev Shah (west), Devajit Saikia (north-east), Avishek Dalmiya (east) and Santhosh Menon, and Mohammad Azharuddin (south) has left the decision to the office-bearers. “They have waited for so long, and in another few days, the package will be announced. All of us felt that not just the players but even the match officials have to be compensated in the right way possible. The strength of Indian cricket lies in the domestic circuit and for it to be healthy, it needs to improve on all fronts. The package will definitely be on the higher side,” a BCCI official familiar with the developments told this newspaper.
It is understood that the working group has proposed 50-70 per cent of total match fee from a Ranji Trophy season as a compensation package. In the likelihood of BCCI keeping it to 50 per cent, a player will get Rs 70,000 per match. With the 2019/20 season seeing each team playing a minimum of eight matches, the BCCI is likely to keep the same number for consideration. This would mean, a player will get a minimum of Rs 5,60,000. “This could go up too. It is up to the office-bearers to decide a suitable package that factors in everything,” the official added.
There are indications that players’ compensation package will be on the higher side because the BCCI has to suitably pay the umpires, match officials, video analysts and scorers. “If we reduce the package for cricketers, then it will be even lesser for others. All these factors will be kept in mind,” the official said. What is left to be decided is whether all players who were part of the 2019/20 season have to be considered or whether state units will be asked to come up with names.
With regards to hike in match fee, which has been under consideration for a couple of years now, the official stated that good news can be expected soon. “The hike has been due for a while. Following discussions with the state units, we have arrived at a number. This will be discussed at the apex council meet and there will be an increase in match fee across all tournaments. Once it is agreed here, it will be ratified at the annual general meeting,” the official stated.
It is understood that the decision to ask state units to give centralised contracts has been put on hold as a lot of them expressed their reservations. While some are yet to get their annual shares, their share will also come down since the number of teams has gone up to 38. “State units prefer the BCCI to pay the fee as it would make the process easy and will be uniform to all. Moreover, units are also not sure what they do about national players. They may not be available for the whole season or at the most play a match or two. Paying full contract money won’t be justified then,” the official stated.