Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq, his deputy Mohammad Hafeez and ace spinner Saeed Ajmal will be paid a tad over Rs1 million. Shoaib Malik, Nasir Jamshed and Junaid Khan will be richer by Rs825,000.
An amount of Rs660,000 is due to go inside Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Irfan’s kitty bag, while even Imran Farhat has made the same — his earnings made after collectively spending 10 minutes with the bat during the two matches he took part in at the ICC Champions Trophy.
These were not ‘rewards’ due to their performance because we can all agree that the team, barring a very few individuals, did anything but perform in the real sense of the word in the three matches they featured in. The money, in fact, comes in the form of a neatly-folded package of match appearance fee with a monthly retainership tagging alongside it that hasn’t even been added to those numbers. Sponsorships, endorsements, travel allowances along with other perks of being a national cricketer have been left out as well.
Some might say the amount mentioned alone is staggering given all they do is use a stick to take a swipe at a few balls and deliver a few after rotating their arm. Others might see the amount as peanuts but then again, these would be folks who grasp every opportunity to compare everything with our neighbours. Few can also go beyond the subcontinent in their comparison. But take into account the players’ purchasing power in the country, allowances they receive during tours and the fame accompanying it and the entire package is enviable. At least, Pakistan hockey players would feel so given that even the category ‘A’ players make a dubious Rs50,000 per month.
But coming back to our numbers.
In 2012, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) – justifiably enough – increased the national cricketers’ monthly retainer fee by 25% with match appearance fees getting a 10% jump. Mind you, the players were blessed with an increment after three years with the country’s isolation in world cricket effectively taking its toll on pay scales as well. Lamenting the lack of pay-raise, the cricketers were in an irritable mood. The development, thus, came as a relief with the players earning it through sheer brilliance on the field. Pakistan remained unbeaten in One-Day International (ODI) and Test series during the previous year and kicked off the new one with a 3-0 whitewash of England — the number one Test side. It was only fitting that an increment be offered to further motivate the team that was still recovering from a damaging spot-fixing scandal and yet, performing exceptionally well on the field. Despite being deprived of playing matches at home, the team’s achievements were more than inspiring.
The increments happened again this year. The cricket board increased the players’ monthly retainership by 15%, taking the monthly salary to Rs359,375 for a Category A player and increased the ODI match fees to Rs363,000.
As an employer the PCB was hoping for better output.
But unfortunately, that has not been the case. Ever since the first pay-raise was announced – May 2012 – the team’s performance has seen a dip. In 14 Twenty20s, the team has registered nine wins against five defeats. It’s the ODIs and Tests, however, that Pakistan have fared poorly in — the two formats in which the team remained unbeaten in 2011.
In six Tests, Pakistan have recorded four defeats and two draws — narrowly missing out on victory in both though. In 22 ODIs, eight wins and 12 losses with a tied and a no-result squeezing in as well do not reflect the winning momentum being carried forward. Out of the eight wins, one each has come against Scotland and Ireland.
If anything, the senior cricketers have minted money. Their performances, however, have been a real shame. Despite spending years to make a name, improve their skill-set and gain valuable experience, the expected level of maturity or responsibility is still lacking. A one-off poor show is one thing but a downright, purposeless campaign deserves to be criticised.
Calls for heads to roll gain momentum with each passing day after Pakistan dubiously became the first team to make an exit from the Champions Trophy. It’s the seniors who should, out of mere self-respect, ask themselves a simple question – since the PCB remains a chairman-less body at the moment – are they really worth this much?
The writer is the Sports Incharge at The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2013.