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In a move that could potentially pave way for the others to follow suit, the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) has agreed to incentivise its senior men’s team with a 100% pay raise from the 2024-25 season.

A recommendation for the state association to match players’ BCCI earnings from the domestic circuit has been approved at the MCA’s apex council meeting. This effectively doubles a player’s earnings through the season.

The BCCI currently pays players at the senior men’s level across three slabs. Players with over 40 first-class caps earn INR 60,000 a day, while those who have played 21-40 games take home INR 50,000 a day, and those who have featured in fewer than 20 games earn INR 40,000 a day.

Opening batter Bhupen Lalwani, for example, who featured in all 10 games Mumbai played in Ranji Trophy 2023-24, would have earned INR 17.2 lakhs as match fees. Had this rule come into effect from this season, he would have stood to earn INR 34.4 lakh.

Lalwani has played just 14 first-class matches, which means his base earnings from the Ranji Trophy stand at INR 40,000 a day at the moment. The overall earnings for someone who has featured in over 40 first-class games could be significantly higher.

Earlier in the month, the MCA announced prize money of INR 5 crores for its players. This was over and above the prize money offered by the BCCI to Mumbai for winning the Ranji Trophy. The move to match earnings is especially bound to benefit those who don’t have an IPL contract.

“We felt that the player should earn more, especially those who play Ranji Trophy cricket,” MCA president Amol Kale said. “For us red-ball cricket matters the most as the Ranji Trophy holds a special place for everyone in Mumbai.”

There has been a growing chorus among former players to prioritise domestic cricket, particularly in the wake of the BCCI’s decision to introduce a Test Incentive scheme to its centrally contracted men’s players for prioritising red-ball cricket. Under this scheme, a player’s match fees will go up by 300% if he features in more than 75% of Tests in a particular season.

Sunil Gavaskar, the former India captain, voiced his support for extending a similar scheme to first-class cricketers. He had asked the board to consider doubling or tripling existing match fees to “encourage players and look after the feeder system.”

“If the Ranji Trophy fee can be doubled or tripled, certainly there will be a lot more people playing the Ranji Trophy, [and a] lot less pullouts,” Gavaskar had said. “They will all be wanting to play with the slab system – [if] every ten first-class matches you get that much more – so I would request the BCCI to look at that aspect as well.”

This isn’t the first time the MCA has contemplated such a move. In 2022-23, the MCA had proposed annual contracts, and had even set up a three-member committee to propose a structure. That move, proposed by former president Vijay Patil, wasn’t passed by the Apex Council. The MCA soon conducted elections and Patil was replaced by Kale, the current president.

#Mumbai #men #pay #raise #domestic #season

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