At a time when uncertainty looms large over the future of the domestic cricket season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, former India batsman V.V.S. Laxman believes that the state associations should hand out contracts to first-class cricketers.
“I have been telling this for a long time, that 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,” Laxman told Sportstar on Friday.
“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 wondered.
After taking charge as the president of the BCCI in 2019, former India captain and Laxman’s team-mate Sourav Ganguly had said that the Board will introduce a contract system for the domestic cricketers. But so far, nothing has materialised.
While many first class cricketers feel that a contract will help them immensely, the state associations are waiting for clarity from the Board.
“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,” he said.
In its Annual General Meeting in December last year, the BCCI had proposed a compensation package for the domestic cricketers in the wake of the pandemic, but as of now, that too remains in the planning stage.
“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,” Laxman said.
“The moment professionalism comes, it means they have to get paid and unfortunately last year, because of the pandemic, some of them were not paid like they would if the entire season would have taken place…”
Last season, about 700 domestic players suffered financially after the cancellation of Ranji Trophy.
“I believe there should be some kind of a package which should be worked out by the BCCI for cricketers, especially the first class cricketers, who don’t play the IPL, who don’t get to play international cricket. I think it’s very important to look after them,” the former India international stated.
In the BCCI’s Special General Meeting last week, the state units were informally told by the office-bearers the compensation matters will be discussed in a separate meeting soon.