As BCCI develops a compensation package and a formula for its distribution to local COVID-19 cricketers, the voices requiring central contracts for such players are growing stronger with experienced names. Jadev Uncatcat, Sheldon Jackson and Harprit Singh Bhatia, leading the chorus.
Last month, former Indian player and veteran Rohan Gavaskar also called on state associations to introduce contracts for players in excess of their match fees, just as it is for the national team.
Most local players cannot play IPL, have no job security and rely heavily on fees for matches that took a beating last season with the cancellation of the Ranji Trophy due to the pandemic.
Saurashtra captain and India player Jadev Unadkat does not need a contract security, but believes it should be introduced for the country’s top 30 cricketers.
“Central contract talks have been going on since before the pandemic. Even cricket players at the age group level have to be compensated for the lack of cricket, this will keep them motivated and then hand out contracts to older players.
“You can’t give contracts to everyone, but you can pick the top 30 players for contracts. A pool of 30 players sounds feasible to me,” said Unadkat, who led Saurashtra to their first Ranji title in 2020, to PTI.
If it’s a full season, a local player wins Rs 15-16, which was not the case last season with the Ranji Trophy, which was canceled for the first time in 87 years.
Chhattisgarh captain Harpit Singh Bhatia is among a bunch of local cricketers who went to play club cricket in Britain amid the pandemic. He has played for the Barnsley Woolley Miners since 2017.
“I played all 10 white-ball games last season. It wasn’t clear enough. I had to come to the UK to make extra money. Since I don’t have a job back in India, I’m still coming to England to supplement my income.
“If I had a central contract at home, it would not have been a compulsion for me to play in the UK. BCCI has supported in the past and I expect it to support us in these difficult times with a good compensation package and hopefully contracts from state associations,” Bhatia told PTI.
His wife was supposed to join him in England, but she could not with India on the red travel list. Bhatia will be in the UK until September.
“We need to formulate a policy, remembering that most players don’t play IPL and don’t have a job. And what happens when I get injured and I can’t play all season? That’s when contracts become even more important.
“Somehow I can’t imagine a season without cricket with a red ball. This is the most difficult form of cricket for us and part of our fees for the match also comes from that,” he added.
Another home veteran, Sheldon Jackson, who was with KKR this season, moved to Puducherry last season after helping Saurashtra win Ranji’s crown. He believes that contracts should also be given to women who play cricket.
“Contracts have to be signed by state associations. By doing so, they show that they can take care of their cricket players, especially at times like these. You don’t know how long COVID will last.
“At least players will have the certainty that they can take care of families at such times and pay their bills. And why exactly for men’s cricket. Cricket women also need to get contracts. They have even fewer opportunities to work in compared to cricket men (since they are mostly hired by the railroads), ”Jackson said.
BCCI cashier Arun Dumal has already said that the Board is developing a compensation package in consultation with state associations. However, the issue was not discussed at SGM on 29 May. The season is scheduled to start in September depending on the situation with COVID in India.
“The SGM statement states that there will be a discussion on cricket in India and this also includes domestic cricket, but only IPL and the T20 World Cup were discussed. We have no problems with the introduction of central contracts, but there should be clarity from BCCI what they have plans for the domestic season, “said a government official.