After Shubham Khajuria scored a fighting 90 against Andhra on the first day of Jammu & Kashmir’s Group C Ranji Trophy tie on Thursday at the Brabourne Stadium, the right-handed opener couldn’t help recall their famous victory over Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium in 2014/15.
Khajuria, who had scored a 107 and 78 in that match, time and again made a mention of the significance of their historic victory which is close to every J&K player’s heart. It was a dream start to their campaign, beating domestic giants Mumbai in their opening match.
Their effort was even lauded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after their pre-season preparations were disrupted by ravaging floods in the valley.
However, little did the players know that their dream season might end up leaving a bitter taste in their mouth by the end of it. The J&K players are into their third domestic season but are yet to receive their match fees of the 2014/15 season from the Jammu & Kashmir Cricket Association (JKCA).
The players’ repeated pleas to the JKCA authorities have proved futile. “We (players) have personally spoken to the authorities in the association, but they say that the earlier regime (Dr Farooq Abdullah’s faction) has not completed the paper work. In their dispute (Abdullah and the ruling Imran Ansari group) the players have been made to suffer,” a senior J&K player told Hindustan Times.
The match fees of J&K players for Ranji Trophy and one-dayers is Rs 10,000 per day, while for T20s it is Rs 5000 per day. Then there is a benevolence fund (players share from the profit made by the Indian cricket board) that is added to the match fees.
“If a player gets to play the entire season (Ranji Trophy, one-dayers and T20s), he earns a match fee of approximately Rs 3 to 5 lakh. A player stands to earn around Rs 10 to 12 lakh with the addition of benevolence fund. Except for the Dearness Allowance (Rs 500 per day), we haven’t got a single penny from the association,” claimed another senior J&K player.
It is also learnt that the JKCA have not paid the Dearness Allowance of last season to the players as yet.
With most of the J&K players not having the cushion of a permanent job, the dire financial circumstances have forced some players to take up a loan or borrow money from their acquaintances.
The earnings from that season was something the players were banking upon after the devastation caused by the 2014 floods. “The floods destroyed our houses and our families were dependent on the money that we would have earned from the season. That did not happen,” said a player, getting a touch emotional.
“I have taken a loan of around Rs 1 lakh against the gold we had. Some players have also borrowed money to sustain their cricket as kits and equipment are very expensive,” said another player.
JKCA’s general secretary Iqbal Shah blamed the Abdullah regime for the delay in players’ payments. “Our earlier secretary ML Nehru is not keeping well since quite some time now. We have sourced out whatever details and documents we managed to get from him. We have submitted it to the BCCI and I am confident they will clear the dues in a week’s time,” said Shah. Calls to Nehru went unanswered.
A player said claims of settling the dues from the JKCA have been doing the rounds for more than a month now.