Harbhajan Singh writes to Anil Kumble requesting pay hike for domestic players

Veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has asked India head coach Anil Kumble to look into the pay structure of the domestic players, citing disparity between the former and BCCI contracted players.

Former Indian leg spinner Kumble is set to meet the Supreme Court appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) on May 21 to discuss a revision in the retainer amount of contracted players, which has them earning Rs 2 crore for an A contract, Rs 1 crore for B and Rs 50 lakh for C.

“It’s been 2/3 years I have been playing Ranji Trophy. I have found constant struggle in the financial situation of my First-Class teammates, even though Ranji Trophy is hosted by the richest cricket board in the world. It’s shocking to say the least that the payment system has not changed since 2004. Imagine the value of 100 rupees then and now, it is so different. Imagine in today’s day and age how can you call yourself a professional if your job does not even tell you how much you will earn yearly? How can you sign up and commit to a job which does not promise you a fixed income every year? I appeal to you as a player, who is an inspiration for all Ranji players,” said Harbhajan in a letter according to PTI.

While the IPL has opened the door for several uncapped Indian players to have a financially secure future, many who miss out on lucrative franchise deals struggle to support their lives under the current pay structure.

“There will be hundreds of players who will not play for India or have an IPL contract but they are also cricketers like any top India cricketer. They also have families, dreams, aspirations. This is a request that these domestic cricketers are also looked after.

“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 that they get paid. I am happy to help/assist in anyway to help bring in a change.”

The issue was brought to the 36-year-old’s attention when his teammate in the Punjab Ranji Trophy side revealed his plight. Harbhajan realised that the player could not support his family. Having being sidelined by injury for two years, he was not earning, and there is no insurance provided to the players.

“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,” Harbhajan is quoted on ESPNcricinfo. “Anyway, let’s try and gently make a change for our brothers.”

According to Harbhajan, other countries have a support system in place for domestic players, something that the BCCI also needs to consider.

“An international player has a contract, he has everything. But there are domestic cricketers I have played with who don’t have money to pay EMI,” Harbhajan told ESPNcricinfo. “There are some who played just two matches in which they did not perform well and then were in doubt about playing in the next season.”

Harbhajan said he would be happy to talk with the COA if given an opportunity. “We need to make sure that the domestic players earn enough to run a household. We need to have domestic contracts in place, regardless of whether the cricketer plays or not. In case the player gets injured, the state association should bear his expenses and assure him about his future on his return.”

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