Cricket is the most prosperous sport in India and cricketers the richest sportspersons of the country. Gone are the days when Lata Mangeshkar needed to hold a special concert to raise prize money for the members of the victorious Indian team of 1983 World Cup. With television rights and sponsorships bringing mind-boggling amounts of money, things are only getting better.
The latest announcement of BCCI central contracts is in the news not for the money involved but because of the omission of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But most cricket fans would also like to know how much money their favourite cricketers are making.
When one sees Hardik Pandya proposing to his girlfriend on a luxury boat or Rishabh Pant holidaying in the snowy mountains of an exotic location, he is bound to think about the income these men have. There are two sources of earnings that cricketers have – the contracts with BCCI and the endorsement deals. IPL earnings are another source of revenue but one that is available to only a few of the players.
Let's look at both these sources of income for cricketers.
In the latest central contracts handed out by BCCI, players are divided into four groups. The most important ones like Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah are in the A+ category, while a large number of other players are in Grade A. Then, there is Grade B and C.
The three players in the topmost layer – Rohit Sharma is the other one apart from the two mentioned above – are raking in Rs 7 crores/per year while those in the second layer – Ravichandran Ashwin and Cheteshwar Pujara included – make Rs 5 crores in one year. Players in the B Grade earn Rs 3 crores and those in the C Grade Rs 1 crore.
That is the money that is certain to come their way. But there is also the match fees the players are paid. This fee is earned by all members of the playing team regardless of which grade they belong to. Even players who are not graded and are just making their way into the team earn the same amount.
The fee for one Test match is Rs 15 lakh while for an ODI, its Rs 6 lakh. A T20 brings in 3 lakh rupees to the purse of an Indian cricketer. But that's not all! There are the bonuses also. A century or a five-wicket haul fetches Rs 5 lakh for a player while a double century adds two lakhs extra.
So, someone like Virat Kohli will earn 7 crores a year, plus the fee for all the matches he plays.
Here is a list of players in the different groups:
Grade A+: Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Rohit Sharma
Grade A: Cheteshwar Pujara, KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma
Grade B: Hardik Pandya, Mayank Agarwal, Wriddhiman Saha, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal
Grade C: Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Navdeep Saini, Deepak Chahar, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur
Now that we are done with BCCI contracts, let's look at the money raked in by these cricketers through endorsements. Here, every player has his own market value. Sometimes, the popularity of a cricketer with brands may not be directly proportional to his performance. Often, a player's marketability is judged by more than their bare stats.
Virat Kohli is the unsurprising leader of the team even in endorsement deals. Last year, the amount earned by Kohli through this route was $25 million or 1,77,62,37,500! MS Dhoni, despite his time away from the game, is estimated to have made $30 million or 2,13,13,50,000 in 2018.
Hardik Pandya, whose on-field performances and star-like attitude, makes him an attractive brand ambassador, is estimated to be charging Rs 1-1.5 crores for every endorsement deal. His net worth at the moment is Rs 12.8 crores.
If one talks about the less flamboyant personalities who are otherwise gun players, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravichandran Ashwin come to mind. So, how much are they earning?
Well, Pujara remained under the radar for a long time but his consistency at the Test level is finally bringing rewards for him with the advertisers. According to a report, the fee charged by the Saurashtra batsman for an endorsement deal is Rs. 30-50 lakh. He has been taken under the wings by World Sports Group – a player management firm which previously had Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir as its clients.
Ashwin, on the other hand, had a net worth of Rs 132 crores in 2018. While the off-spinner doesn't have many endorsement deals, he is believed to be charging Rs 4.5 crore for each of them.
So, it is clear that Indian cricketers are financially in good health. While their salaries from the BCCI itself would be good enough to ensure a super-rich lifestyle, deals with private companies to become their brand ambassadors takes them into the highest echelons of monied people in the country.