Cricket in India, with a population of around 1.35 billion, is tantamount to a religion. It is unresistingly an intoxicating and enthralling sport. Its charm is overwhelmingly bewitching, the craze of which transcends people of almost all age groups in our country.
But the stories of passion and love for cricket and its millions of aficionados do not cease here. A majority of the adolescents who play and watch the 11-member team on the 22-yard pitch bat, bowl and field so intensely, dream to play for the country. They also yearn ardently to earn the name, fame and fortune like their favourite players by making their career as brilliant cricketers of the country.
But the entry into the domain of cricket as a career is not an easy task. Nor is it a tailor-made profession. Unlike other professions and career choices, a career in cricket is a Herculean task which is stacked against fierce struggle, consistent challenges, failures, desperation, rejections and criticisms.
However, with the opening of more editions of cricket over the past few decades and the increase in the number of matches being played among the cricket-playing nations, the possibility of getting an opportunity to be selected for the national team and chances of starting career as a cricketer have become brighter and stronger.
What qualities do you need to become a cricketer?
In the present milieu of the cut-throat competition, cricket as a career and success as a cricket player is fraught with an array of challenges and hardships. To start, survive and succeed in this war-like situation, prospective cricket players must have the following professional inherent qualities:
- They must be very good sportsmen and natural athletes.
- Adaptability to accept international cricket’s odd circumstances like those of culture, cuisine, creed, language, weather and non-friendly audiences of foreign countries.
- Players are expected to bowl, bat and field for hours for the perfection of which they need to have very good physical fitness and mental stoicism.
- Aspiring players must be excellent in these eight segments of cricket — athleticism, fitness, skill to brave the tense circumstances, fielding, running between the wickets, bowling in the danger zone, dealing with balls accurately to duck being out and, most importantly, perspicacity of taking on-the-spot-decision.
- Must possess talent in one or all the three aspects of cricket: bowling, batting and fielding.
- Must have the willingness and interest to travel across the nations of the world for playing tournaments and series of the matches.
- Must be flexible and stoic to live apart from family and friends for a very long time.
Get the basics right!
All the important international cricket formats are grouped into the following three categories:
- International Test Matches
- One Day International Matches
- T20 International Matches
Domestic cricket consists of the following formats:
- First Class
- List A
- T20 Matches
A majority of prospective cricket players prepare and try to specialize in a particular format or sometimes two of them. Those who want to play only T20 matches restrict themselves to T20 cricket and join a particular T20 Premier League. However, it is another thing that these players are also chosen for playing T20 International cricket matches for India.
As far as the selection of players for the different formats of the cricket is concerned, it is the governing body of the cricket of that country which makes selection of the players. For example, BCCI (The Board of Control of Cricket in India) is the governing body and the richest cricket body of the world which functions along the line of a corporate organization.
All the players of the team, coaches, physiotherapists and other crew members are chosen by the BCCI for which the players need to sign a contract for a certain period, usually for a year. The BCCI also performs the task of arranging matches with the nine major cricket-playing nations, ie, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, South Africa, England, Australia, Zimbabwe and West Indies. The players are richly paid by the BCCI, the figures of which are not less than the earnings of a very high-profile entrepreneur of a corporate sector or a Bollywood celebrity.
Where and how to start?
An aspirant has two choices; the first choice starts right from school from where one can launch into the world of cricket. School cricket matches may prove to be the golden passport to participate in inter-school matches which pave the path for matches and tournaments played at the inter-college and university level.
Yet another very popular choice to enter the professional cricket world requires hard labour — ‘Open Cricket’ is a comparatively harder way to start the career as a cricketer. These matches are conducted by various cricket associations which have no connection to school, college and university level matches.
Across the country, each district has a District Association. All these District Associations further constitute the State Association. The District Association functions as a selection committee for promising cricketers for the matches at the district level. On the basis of the personal performances, players are chosen and the team is formed by the District Association.
The selection process
The performance of aspiring players at the district level creates the opportunity for them to play for their states. On the basis of the performance of the players at the state level, the national level selection committee makes the selection of the players for the national level team.
The Ranji Trophy is considered another golden passport for the selection of players for the national cricket team. It is also the most crucial stage which facilitates the entry of a prospective player into the cricket team of the country.
The Ranji Trophy, named after Ranjit Singh Ji, the first Indian cricket player who played for England and Sussex, is the first class domestic cricket championship of India. It is also popularly called as ‘Ranji’. It was earlier known as ‘Cricket Championship of India’. The Ranji Trophy consists of the teams representing the various states of the country. So every state has its own representation in the Ranji Trophy team. The Ranji Trophy holds the competition among 29 states.
As per the latest data, the total number of teams in this trophy is 37 with the latest addition of the north-eastern states. The players for the Ranji Trophy team are selected from among the top-performing players of the 29 states and 6 Union Territories of India. Players from various cricket associations and cricket clubs also get the opportunity to play for the prestigious Trophy.
For selection to the Ranji Trophy team, an aspiring player needs to go through the following processes:
First, start playing cricket right from childhood when you are usually in elementary school. It would be better to get yourself enrolled in a cricket team at local level or a local club. Ensure participation in as many cricket matches as possible. Your excellent performance in school and various other tournaments and matches would enable you to get selected for the district level tournament. Thereafter, players are selected for the divisional level which consists of many districts taken together.
On the basis of the performance of the players at the Inter-divisional tournaments, the players are selected for the camps. These camps serve as the rigorous training centres under the professional guidance of renowned coaches. During their stay at camps, these trainee players also play various tournaments which are reckoned as the entrance test for the Ranji Trophy.
The IPL cricket matches have proved to be a very good platform the teams of which are drawn from the Ranji Trophy teams. The IPL and T20 limited edition matches were introduced by the BCCI in 2007-2008 for which the players are selected via auction. They play for the teams owned by franchisees.
The BCCI has divided all the players into four categories of A+, A, B and C from the salary structure point of view the parameters of which make the stint of experience and last year’s performance in the matches played by an individual player. The ranking of the players lasts for one year and if any debutant joins in between the year he is given the slot in the grade C.
|All about BCCI
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the national governing body of cricket in India, was set up in December 1928. It is the committee of the administrators who are assigned with the responsibility of selecting the cricket players for the matches to be played at various levels.
The BCCI is made up of two tiers of selectors:
1. All India Senior Selection Committee: The responsibilities of this committee include selection of teams for all the international matches like those of Test matches, One Day International (ODI) matches and T20 international matches. It also selects the players for the India A teams. Players for the teams like those of President’s XI or BCCI XI are also selected by this committee. The President’s XI team plays cricket matches with international cricket teams that visit the country.
2. All India Junior Selection Committee: This team selects players for the formation of the following teams: Under-19 Cricket, Under-17 Cricket, Under-15 Cricket.
The BCCI is composed of 5 members who are selected from North Zone, Central Zone, West Zone, East Zone and South Zone.
How much can you earn as a professional cricketer?
Retainer fee: This fee is paid as per the central contract and category to which the player belongs. Players in Grades A+ are paid 7 crore annually. As per the latest contract which came into effect from October 2019 and which will last till September 2020, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah have been included in the category of A+. Grade A players get 5 crore, Grade B players receive 3 crore while Grade C players are entitled to get 1 crore per annum.
Match fee: A match fee is paid for playing international matches. It is the same across all four categories of the central contract. For an appearance in every Test match, 15,00,000 is paid. For an appearance in a One Day International match, it is 6,00,000 and for each T20 match, the fee paid is
Performance bonuses: For every century scored in Test or ODI, 5,00,000 is paid to the players, while for scoring double century in Test or ODI, 7,00,000 is paid. The 5-wicket-feat in Test, ODI or T20 attracts 5,00,000 whereas for a 10-wicket haul and scoring a double-century, the bonus is 7,00,000.
The bonanza does not stop here. In case of a win in a Test match against a team in the ICC Top 3 ranking, a 50 per cent hike is given in the match fee of the players. Winning a Test series against an ICC Top 3 team, 100 per cent or more fee is paid to the players. For a victory in ICC World Cup in both ODI and T20, an increase to the tune of 300 per cent is given in the match fees.
Success as a cricketer calls for absolute dedication and unyielding devotion. Aspiring players must be one hundred per cent dedicated to cricket. They must labour hard and practise vigorously without losing passion, patience and enthusiasm.
Shreeprakash Sharma is the Principal of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Mamit, Mizoram. He writes articles in Hindi and English for a number of magazines and newspapers, and also contributes to All India Radio (AIR).