Questions regarding who earns what in cricket and who is the highest paid cricketer in the world are not only perplexing, but also lead to hoards of information which needs to be analysed and put in perspective.
However, a recent feature in ESPNcricinfo’s The Cricket Monthly tries to break down the numbers for everyone.
Australia captain Steven Smith, with a total earning of $1.469 million this year, can be considered the highest paid cricketer in the world.
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He is followed by England Test captain Joe Root, with earnings of $1.38m, while Indian skipper Virat Kohli is third on the list and will bag $1m this year.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed, who led his team to Champions Trophy silverware in 2017, in sixth on the list with earnings of $300,000 this year.
Sarfraz is also below South Africa captain Faf du Plessis ($440,000) and former Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews ($320,000).
The earnings, however, exclude income from domestic T20 leagues, domestic engagements and brand endorsements and are only based on the remunerations paid by the boards to their players in the form of match fee and contractual retainers.
If taken into account, Kohli might beat everyone to the title of the most highly paid cricketer in the world.
Raw deal for Pakistan?
Perhaps the most jarring statistic is that Pakistan’s top-tier contract ($74,014) grade pays less than that of Ireland’s ($75,000). In fact, only Zimbabwe and Bangladesh boards have a lower basic rate for their players than the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Australia, the highest paying team, pays its players 1,600% more than what the PCB does.
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Pakistani players also earn less than other major Test nations when it comes to match fees, with their top-tier contract ranking seventh in Tests. Players in the lowest contract tier earn less than all the other major Test playing nations.
India head coach Ravi Shastri, who earns $1.17 million per annum, is the most highly paid coach in cricket, followed by Australia coach Darren Lehmann, who earns nearly half of what the Indian bags — $550,000.
And if you’re wondering why a coach is being highly paid, keep in mind that they don’t earn a match fee, which the cricketers benefit from.
Moving on, Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur is sixth on this list with net earnings of $220,000 in a year.
He is preceded by England Trevor Bayliss ($520,000), Bangladesh’s Chandika Hathurusingha ($340,000) and New Zealand’s Mike Hesson ($250,000).
Comparison with other sports
Cricket’s claim of being the second biggest team sport in the world takes a hit when earnings are compared across sports.
Cricket comes in sixth when highest-paid athletes are compared across sports; coming in after football, formula one, basketball, golf and tennis.