BCCI Domestic Cricket: The COVID-19 pandemic has largely exposed the loopholes in BCCI’s water-tight domestic cricket that has produced hundreds of world-class red-ball cricketers including Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Mayank Agarwal and Mohammed Siraj amongst many others. The steady supply chain, however, is currently in jeopardy as many first-class cricketers are without red-ball cricket and have not received their compensation for the Ranji Trophy 2020. Former India batting great VVS Laxman has backed a domestic contract system for first-class cricketers that could seal the youngsters’ financial security.
“I have been telling this for a long time, those first-class cricketers should get contracts from their state associations keeping in mind that they are sacrificing everything and they are dedicating themselves to this game,” VVS Laxman told Sportstar.
BCCI Domestic Cricket: “It is very important that a contract is handed over because what happens to a player if he suddenly gets injured? Suddenly there is no income for that player and if that player doesn’t have a job then how is he going to look after himself and his family?” he added.
However, it is not just VVS Laxman who is in favour of the matter. Many current first-class cricketers in India feel the same way but they do not want to speak on record. InsideSport spoke to three cricketers from Karnataka, Bengal and Gujarat and all backed a domestic contract for cricketers that will make them financially secure.
BCCI Domestic Cricket: “State contract will be very beneficial for cricketers coming from a humble background. We can play much better cricket without much thoughts on financial benefits which are taken care of,” a Karnataka cricketer, part of the team’s Ranji Trophy 2020 campaign, told InsideSport.
A senior Bengal cricketer, who wished to remain anonymous, also echoed similar sentiments. “We had a short domestic season. We had both white-ball tournaments but Ranji is important. I hope it happens soon this year. A state contract would be really helpful,” he told InsideSport.
BCCI Domestic Cricket: A Gujarat cricketer too said he favours a state contract and hopes the BCCI will take a call on the matter soon. The BCCI, meanwhile, said discussing the compensation with the state associations will take a separate special general meeting, adding that it will need deep deliberation to hand out contracts to first-class cricketers as not many states like Puducherry have a pool of such players and depend on outstation players.
“The SGM was regarding IPL 2021 and T20 World Cup that has been discussed. But the compensation part needs a separate meeting. We have to discuss that with state associations before coming to a decision,” BCCI treasurer Arun Dhumal told InsideSport.
BCCI Domestic Cricket: But taking care of domestic cricket was one of the priorities that BCCI President Sourav Ganguly outlined after taking office. However, so far, he has been busy with the COVID-19 pandemic and its fallout on the futures tour program besides IPL.
“A contract system – like it is there for the international players – has to be there for the domestic players. It is very important. Especially in the current situation, I believe that it is mandatory and definitely the need of the hour. It is very critical to look after the domestic players’ well-being,” VVS Laxman said.
BCCI Domestic Cricket: While the BCCI during its annual general meeting promised to come up with a compensation package for Ranji Trophy players, it is yet to see the light of day. The problem deepens as not many cricketers are employed by a state government unit and neither all play in IPL, making it difficult for some to meet ends. Furthermore, not all red-ball cricketers feature in domestic limited-overs cricket, cutting down on the prospects of earning from white-ball match fees.
“A compensation has to be made to these players. In the past, a lot of players used to have good jobs in a central or state government organisation or private companies. Unfortunately, now the jobs that the players are getting are very scarce. A lot of them have taken up cricket as a professional sport, it is no longer an amateur sport,” VVS Laxman said.