While Angelo Mathews was bought in last year's IPL auctions for a whopping $925,000 by Sahara Pune Warriors, his fellow all-rounder Thisara Perera was snapped up for $650,000 by Mumbai Indians last year.
Yet, the financial woes of Mathews, Perera and the rest of Sri Lanka players are far from being over. Why? Believe it or not, the World Cup finalists have been playing without being paid for the better part of the last year.
After the International Cricket Council withheld payment to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) - one of the worst managed cricketing bodies in the world - for co-hosting the 2011 World Cup, following allegations of misappropriating funds, the players were affected the most.
And even though the ICC recently released $2 million directly to the players, the Sri Lanka cricketers are still waiting to receive almost $5 million more as match fees over the last year or so.
While a Sri Lankan cricketer is promised $5,000 for a Test, he is set to earn $3,000 and $2,000 for playing an ODI and a Twenty20 International, respectively. Add to that the annual contract fees for some of the top cricketers divided in three categories ($100,000 for Grade A, $80,000 for Grade B and $60,000 for Grade C), you will realise the gravity of the situation.
Had it been the case with Indian cricketers, with astounding sums involved (R7 lakh per Test, Rs. 4 lakh per ODI and Rs. 2 lakh per T20I and Rs. 1 crore, Rs. 80 lakh and Rs. 50 lakh for Grade A, B and C contracted players), perhaps the cricketers would have been on a strike.
So what is it that keeps the Sri Lankan cricketers going despite not being paid? "The love of the game," Mathews said on Tuesday, on the eve of their CB Series opener against India. "Eventually we will get paid. The cricket board has been trying to sort out the situation. Hopefully, they will come up with a good solution in the near future. Right now, we are concentrating on our cricket."
To make matters worse for Mathews, his outfit Pune Warriors are not certainties for IPL5 following the owners' decision to end their ties with Indian cricket. Mathews seems to have little choice but to hope against hope. "I haven't heard anything (from Sahara or BCCI/IPL). Hopefully the situation turns good and we can play (IPL5)," Mathews, who missed the World Cup final and the IPL due to injury, said.