The disaster that the Indian cricket team’s tour of England has turned out to be has showcased the huge disparity between cricket and other sports. A majority of the medal-winners at the Commonwealth Games struggle to make ends meet. Indian cricketers, thanks to the sport’s disproportionate popularity, earn huge amounts. Captain MS Dhoni is ranked 22nd on the Forbes list of world’s 100 highest-paid athletes in 2014, with total earnings of Rs 177 crore and endorsements worth Rs 153 crore. He also earned $3.5 million from the IPL franchisee, Chennai Superkings. Vice-captain Virat Kohli reportedly signed a R10-crore per year deal with German sports goods giant, Adidas, in 2014, part of a three-year contract. Kohli has also signed a Rs 6.5 crore a year deal with a popular tyre brand. His annual earnings have jumped from last year’s figure of Rs 40 crore in endorsements. He is currently the face of 13 brands including Pepsi, Toyota and Cinthol deodorants.
No one grudged this when the performance matched the earning. Now that every member of the test team has had his reputation shredded and has disgraced the country, the players’ hefty pay packets are under scrutiny. Does Gautam Gambhir deserve the R1 crore a year he gets as a Grade-A player from the BCCI? Cheteshwar Pujara, another member of the test team, is a Grade-B player and earns R50 lakh per annum, as does another flop show, Ajinkya Rahane. Each test match they play earns them R7 lakh each, even though their abject capitulation meant two of the matches finished in less than three days. The one-day internationals will add R4 lakh per match to their bank accounts. Endorsements are a commercial deal but it is a good time for the BCCI to start thinking about linking performance to pay.