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How Much Do Cricketers Earn?

By CricketersChoice Editors

The money that has flooded into many professional sports over the last 30 years has dramatically changed the income of our top sports stars. The increase in earnings we have seen during this time has been largely driven by the massive TV contracts that have been awarded for the exclusive broadcasting rights to show sporting events around the world.

This global reach has led to huge sponsorship opportunities, which in turn has led to a growth in prize money that players and teams compete for. It has been well documented what footballers earn, as well as the stars of golf, tennis and F1; but cricketers are now getting in on the act too!

Cricket Has Become Big Business

Keen not to miss out on the injection of cash from global advertising and TV money, cricket is now having a slice of the pie.

Over the last 15 years, which has coincided with the birth of the Twenty20 format of the game, cricket has launched and then built lucrative competitions around the world, such as the IPL in India and Australia’s Big Bash. These tournaments, watched by an international audience of millions, have helped to make the cricketers who take part household names and even global superstars.

The IPL, for example, is now a sporting phenomenon. Founded by the Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI) in 2007, it was reported that by 2015 the IPL season was contributing $160 million to the GDP of the Indian economy.  

The competition consistently attracts some of the biggest global TV audiences for any sport around the world and had a record 200 million viewers tuning in for the opening match of the 2020 competition between the Chennai Super Kings and the eventual tournament winners, the Mumbai Indians. By 2019, just 12 years after its launch, the IPL could boast a brand value of $6.7 billion.

When Did Money Start to Flow in to Cricket?

Although the IPL is now the biggest and best paid league on the planet, it was the ECB who launched the world’s first professional Twenty20 competition back in 2003, four years before the Indian version.

After the Benson & Hedges Cup finished in 2002, the ECB wanted a new one-day competition to fill its place. Domestic cricket was in the doldrums, with dwindling crowds and reduced sponsorship, so the radical idea of a 20 over competition was born to attract a new generation of cricket fans. The innovative, fast-paced, exciting format saw crowds return and it was soon a franchise business that was adopted by many governing bodies around the globe.

The IPL were the first competition to introduce a draft system for signing up players, which was the real catalyst behind the huge earnings that top cricketers can now expect to receive. It allowed the franchised clubs exclusive rights to sign up players on very well-paid contracts.

Who Is the Highest Paid Cricketer in the World?

One of the players to really benefit from the success of the IPL has been current Indian captain, Virat Kohli. In 2020, he was the only cricketer to have joined the Forbes highest paid athlete list, reportedly earning an annual salary of $24 million. This was made up from endorsements with companies such as Google, Puma, and Audi, as well as earning up to $2 million playing for India. His IPL contract increased his overall playing salary to $4 million, including bonuses.

Former Indian captain, MS Dhoni, had been the highest paid cricketer for years, but when he relinquished the captain’s role to Virat Kohli, he saw his endorsement value drop significantly. It was reported that Dhoni was earning $15 million from endorsements alone, but it has since been revealed that figure fell to between $8-10 million a year. Dhoni still remains as one of the highest paid IPL players though, with a contract worth $2.1 million.

Rohit Sharma, captain of the Mumbai Indians, also enjoys a lucrative salary and reportedly earns $3.2 million from his playing contracts. He has endorsement agreements with Adidas, Cadbury, and La Liga, which earn him an additional $7 million.   

The highest paid English cricketer to feature on the Forbes cricket rich list is Ben Stokes, whose annual earnings total in the region of $8 million. He has signed profitable contracts with the Rajasthan Royals and has endorsement deals with GM and Red Bull, as well as contracts with the ECB to play for England.

How Do England’s Cricketers Earn Their Money?

All players who feature for England sign a direct contract with the ECB, which are split into three different categories: test contracts, white-ball contracts for one-day players, and increment contracts for new players.

Those lucky enough to be awarded a contract with the ECB will be paid directly by them, rather than the county they are signed up to. And they are very lucrative deals, with test contracts worth in the region of £650,000 per year, and white-ball contracts around £275,000.

For those who can play across all formats of the game, such as Ben Stokes, he can get a contract for both test and white ball cricket to earn a basic annual salary worth around £925,000.

Following England’s World Cup win in 2019, Jofra Archer, who had burst on to the scene during that tournament, saw his increment contract for being a new player, replaced with one worth around £1 million a year that covered test and one-day cricket.

And Eoin Morgan also reportedly earns an annual salary from the ECB of £1 million, which includes a 25% captain’s bonus for leading his white-ball teams.

Beneficial Bonuses

The contracts enjoyed by those representing England are very generous, but the players also have the opportunity to top up their income thanks to a range of bonuses and perks on offer from the ECB.

They can receive appearance fees, which range from £15,000 per test match, to £7,500 for international one-day games, and £3,500 per international Twenty20 fixture. This means that if you appeared for England across all formats, you could increase your annual basic salary by an additional £200,000.

There are also performance-related bonuses for things like hitting a century, taking wickets, or winning a tournament. The England World Cup winning squad would certainly have cashed in! 

Lucrative Leagues and Sizeable Sponsorship

As well as representing England at international level, there has been a huge rise in the number of players heading abroad to compete in some of the most lucrative competitions in the world, such as the IPL, PSL and Big Bash.

Jofra Archer reportedly earns a welcome £800,000 a year playing for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, which covers a season lasting just 14-17 games. Even international cricket goes on a break during April and May to free up the world’s best players to allow them to compete in the competition.

As mentioned previously, sponsorship and endorsements also play a big part in a cricketers’ income now, with many of the elite players signing huge contracts with global businesses. For example, England test captain, Joe Root, enjoys deals with New Balance, Vitality Life, Village Hotels, and Brut, amongst others.    

The Future of Earnings in England

The world’s first Twenty20 league, now named the T20 Blast, has continued to grow from strength to strength. However, recognising that it has fallen behind the lure of the IPL, the ECB have come up with a new concept and a new competition; The Hundred.

Originally scheduled to launch in 2020, but postponed to 2021, the shortened version of the game will consist of ten 10-ball overs, with bowlers delivering five or 10 consecutive balls. There is also a shift away from the traditional county teams, which have been replaced with eight new city-based teams who will use a draft system, common in other franchise leagues, to sign players.

Despite much resistance to another new format, the ECB hope to attract the games big names. Whether it will be able to compete with the IPL is to be seen, after all they got it right with Twenty20, but for the players taking part it is a new contract with a new team, which will only boost their current income further.

County Cricket Hit by COVID

Away from the lucrative deals from the ECB and IPL, the county game has been hit hard by the recent global pandemic. As a result of cancelled fixtures and not having fans in the stadiums for a whole year, the minimum wage for a full-time county cricketer has been temporarily lowered to £24,000 a year.

The Professional Cricketers’ Association were also in negotiations with the ECB and the 18 first-class counties to avoid a mass release of out-of-contract players at the end of the 2020 season. The existing county partnership agreed to guarantee a base salary of £27,500 between 2020 and 2024, which was then lowered by £3,500 for any new deals covering the 2021 season.

Conclusion

There is plenty of money to be made from cricket, but it seems only for the elite players who represent their country, or who have been invited to play in the lucrative competitions around the world. The contracts will only increase in value, as will the sponsorship opportunities, and good luck to those who are able to cash in.

For county cricketers though, the gulf in potential earnings is growing ever wider. With this in mind, and the hiatus we have all had to endure away from watching live cricket, now is the time to go and support your local county club.