Pooran, Hetmyer Salaries Raised for Representing WI
Cricket in the West Indies has undergone a significant transformation, driven by the changing financial landscape of the sport. The allure of representing the West Indies no longer holds the same weight for players as it once did.
Instead, it is the pursuit of monetary gains that has become the primary motivation for many cricketers. This shift in priorities has presented a major obstacle for Cricket West Indies (CWI) in retaining top talent and keeping players engaged throughout the year.
The ongoing World Cup qualifiers showcased the absence of key players such as Shimron Hetmyer, Andre Russell, and Sunil Narine. These players were not included in the 18-member central contract list released by CWI last year, as they have chosen to pursue freelance opportunities in T20 leagues around the world. Nicholas Pooran, who secured a staggering Rs 16 crore deal with the Lucknow Super Giants this year, did participate in the qualifiers and even scored a century.
However, it remains uncertain for how long the Caribbean cricket establishment can compel him to prioritize representing the West Indies over the multi-year contracts offered by his IPL franchise, as well as potential deals in other leagues like the CPL, BBL, or Major League Cricket (MLC).
When considering the remuneration disparity between West Indies players and their Indian counterparts, it becomes apparent why the lure of T20 leagues has become so enticing. While official figures for West Indies player earnings are not readily available, the last documented match fees published by ESPN Cricinfo in 2017 shed some light on the matter.
West Indies players earned significantly less than their Indian counterparts, receiving USD 5750 for Tests (approximately Rs 4.72 lakh per game), USD 2300 for ODIs (roughly Rs 1.88 lakh per game), and USD 1735 (around Rs 1.42 lakh) for T20Is. In comparison, Indian players earned Rs 15 lakh (nearly USD 18,000) for Tests, Rs 8 lakh (approximately USD 9800) for ODIs, and Rs 4 lakh (USD 4800) for T20Is.
Although West Indies players do receive a central contract, the earning potential is still significantly lower than what their Indian counterparts can achieve. Those playing two formats stand to earn at least USD 240,000 (around Rs 1.97 crore) annually, while players involved in all three formats could earn USD 300,000 (approximately Rs 2.5 crore). These figures include match fees. To put it into perspective, even a player like Cheteshwar Pujara, who lacks an IPL contract and only participates in one format, earns more annually solely through his central contract (Rs 3 crore or approximately USD 365,000). If we factor in match fees, his earnings could potentially exceed USD 500,000 (around USD 487,000).
Convincing players like Hetmyer to abandon the opportunity to participate in multiple T20 leagues, where they can earn substantial sums and enjoy extended breaks throughout the year, in favor of playing a limited number of international matches becomes increasingly challenging. Hetmyer could potentially feature in five different leagues for six months and still earn close to USD 2 million, which is nearly eight to ten times the amount he could earn playing a handful of Tests, ODIs, and T20Is.
The discrepancy in earning potential becomes more apparent when considering that international cricket requires around 75 playing days, plus an additional 30-day gap between games. In conservative terms, this amounts to approximately three and a half months of international cricket per year. Consequently, there will invariably be scheduling conflicts between lucrative T20 leagues and international fixtures, resulting in the absence of star players from certain matches or tournaments.
While West Indies' elimination from the World Cup qualifiers might have disappointed millions of fans, it did not come as a shock to many. The concept of multiple nations competing under one flag no longer resonates with the younger generation, and only a select few within the West Indies cricket establishment have genuinely attempted to address the larger issue at hand—the proverbial "elephant in the room": the lack of financial resources, or "Vitamin M."
If "M" symbolizes motivation to represent the unified Caribbean flag, it also represents money, which has become an undeniable factor influencing players' decisions. The financial aspect of the game cannot be ignored, as it plays a crucial role in shaping the future of West Indies cricket.