A decade ago cricket was much different than it is now. The current generation might call it ”undeveloped” but it was the same game of cricket being played in a simple manner. But with the introduction of the T20 format, cricket remodeled itself and now today, it’s a sport as well as a business hub. Earlier this summer, the rights of IPL were sold to 21st Century Fox’s Star India for a whopping amount of 2.5 billion USD. Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and many more international organisations attempted to bid for the rights as well.
10 years ago, no one could believe or no one would even want to bid this amount for streaming rights of a T20 cricket league. Apart from streaming rights, there are now sponsors for a four or a six. Man of the match used to be just one simple award 20 years back but now 3 to 5 sponsors give their own man of the match awards in a single match.
The same way cricketers have been earning slightly more than a cricketer used to 10 years ago. Contracts are now labelled with different categories. Players from Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa earn a share of their board’s commercial revenue. Every year at the IPL auction there’s a world record bid for a certain player. The money game is expanding day by day in cricket but still cricket players don’t fall in the category of most earning sportsmen across the globe.
The news is that the Australian skipper, Steven Smith earns US$1.469 million this year, while his Zimbabwean counterpart Graeme Cremer stands to earn $86,000. The top Indian earners in international cricket are Virat Kohli, the captain, who pulled in approximately $1 million this year, and coach Ravi Shastri, whose annual salary of $1.17 million is comparable to that of any of the game’s top players.
The figures are based on international cricket, and do not take into account player earnings from T20 leagues, other domestic engagements or endorsements. Most boards (see below*) pay their players a share of their commercial rights, while others don’t, or distribute them differently. The pay figures in this piece do not include the various bonuses players are paid for wins and individual performances. Factoring all those in might shuffle the rankings, but that is likelier to happen at the top of the list. And if anything, it will increase the disparity in earnings between top and bottom.
Here’s a complete list of players with highest annual earnings.
1. Steve Smith – 1.47 million USD.
2. Joe Root – 1.38 million USD.
3. Virat Kohli – 1 million USD.
4. Faf Du Plessis – 0.59 million USD.
5. Angelo Mathews – 0.32 million USD.
6. Sarfraz Ahmed – 0.30 million USD.
7. Jason Holder – 0.27 million USD.
8. Kane Williamson – 0.25 million USD.
9. Shakib Ul-Hassan – 0.14 million USD.
10. Greame Creamer – 0.09 million USD.
One thing is very clear now that the more your board earns through commercial earnings, the more you get paid. West Indies, a team which has not been i it’s real shape since the World Cup 2015 pays their players a little more than the most of the Kiwi stars. New Zealand Cricket has been struggling with it’s financial structure in the past two years and has been generating a very low rate of profit from the annual revenue while West Indies has it’s own league which has been very successful in the past two years and is recognized globally now. Almost every ICC’s full member boards have their own franchise leagues now.
What the Coaches Earn?
Coaches aren’t behind n this race either. Indian head coach Ravi Shastri tops the list with an income of 1.7 million USD a year while South Africa’s head coach, Russel Domingo earns the least. He earns 0.09 million USD a year.
Paying the head coach that much more than the top players seems to be a South Asian trend. The BCB pay Chandika Hathurasingha five times the basic salary of their top player; similarly Mickey Arthur is paid three times as much as a top category Pakistan player; Sri Lanka were paying their last full-time coach, Graham Ford, twice what their top player was paid. Perhaps it is because, historically, it is in these countries that the coach’s position has been the most vulnerable: the high-risk nature of a subcontinent job means attracting someone, especially from outside the region, requires that much more money. By contrast, Australia and England pay their coach around half of what their top player earns as a basic salary.
A raw deal for Pakistan?
*Pakistan won the Champions Trophy in June, were the No. 1-ranked Test side as recently as October last year, and have only just lost their first series at home in ten years, but Pakistan’s players are among the worst paid in world cricket.
A player in Pakistan’s top contract bracket will be on an annual retainer ($74,014) that is marginally less than the top contract for an Ireland player ($75,000). Let that sink in (Ireland’s top salary retainer is also higher than those of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe). A player like Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan’s captain, will end up earning more in a year, of course – and he quadruples his base salary in 2017 – because he plays more often and plays across three formats.
To some degree the low retainer is compensated by a more generous match-fee structure that elevates them to a mid-ranking side in terms of pay. But Pakistani players will argue their plight is compounded by a lack of access to the richest domestic league in the sport, or an especially bountiful payout from the PCB’s commercial rights.
The years of exile have played a part no doubt, as has India refusing to play them (that has also significantly reduced the true value of a broadcast deal reportedly worth $150 million over five years). The cost of running an excessively vast domestic calendar is another drain.
The PCB earns revenue comparable to West Indies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, and so the vast differences in retainer amounts between Pakistani players and those representing those three countries stands out: Kane Williamson, Jason Holder and Angelo Mathews all make double, or nearly double, what Sarfraz does on their retainer. Sarfraz makes up for it with his total earnings, but such a system puts intense pressure on the player; an injury in Sarfraz’s case is of far greater harm monetarily than it is for Mathews, Williamson or Holder. Like with India, the case for setting up a Pakistani players’ association has never been stronger. © Osman Samiuddin *
*Figures from ESPNcricinfo’s correspondents in Australia, Bangladesh, England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa.*