There was a time when having a national contract would make a world of financial difference to South African cricketers. It didn’t just mean financial security for a whole year, but good money – enough to make a proper dent in the bond.
Now, for a significant number of contracted players, it means they will only earn a bit less than they could elsewhere, and that’s something CSA should be extremely grateful for because now they can rest assured that everybody with a contract is motivated primarily by playing for South Africa.
Those who are primarily motivated by making money, and there’s nothing wrong with that, will not contract themselves for 12 months to the same employer.
Albie Morkel and Neil McKenzie were recently given national contracts which, in both cases, were worth less than they could earn from a full-time English county contract. In Morkel’s case, however, neither a CSA contract nor country contract can compare with the spectacular riches he has enjoyed in the last six weeks playing for the Chennai SuperKings in the IPL where his contract is worth $650,000.
Andrew Hall and Justin Kemp recently walked away from South African cricket while they were still under contract to the national board which was more than a bit naughty, but they are entering the autumn of their careers, both are married and families might be starting. They might appear unpatriotic to some, but consider this:
Both signed ICL contracts worth around $300,000 and have county contracts worth between £70,000 and £80,000. That’s approximately R2.3 million for the rebel Indian league and another R1 million or so from England. When you’re income is pushing R3.5 million it can be a hard to get excited about a national contract worth R70,000 per month.
The IPL is a spectacularly selfish organisation from a cricket perspective because the vasts amounts of revenue it is generating are all poured straight into the bank vaults of the BCCI. The other national boards are all required to release their contracted players to take part in the tournament yet they are not compensated in any way.
It may be a thin straw to clutch at, but at least CSA can now be certain that it’s brightest stars aren’t wearing the blazer any more because it’s their job.
It isn’t an ideal situation that CSA salaries compare so poorly to other money in the game and every effort should be made to keep up. But as long as CSA contracts remain just a little way behind, we can all be certain that every player with a Protea on his chest is proud to have it there.
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