How much do cricketers earn per year? – Men’s Edition.
On average domestic first-class cricketers earn $85,000 per year, an international cricketer might earn anywhere from $200,000-$2 million (depending on contract tier and nationality), and T20 freelance cricketers earn per year in the range of $700,000-$1.7 million.
This is a start to our new series on Finances in Cricket. Why?
Well because international cricket is at its fulcrum of its continental divide. The tectonic plates comprising of international cricket, T20 leagues, and World Cups are about to crash and massive seismic activity is going to take place in the next decade or so.
At the heart of the matter is the professionalization of cricket, and individual cricketers now having choices. Today we explore seven templates for cricketers to make a professional career in today’s world and analyze how much these cricketers earn per year on average.
The Different Player Types
Cricket is no longer in the 1990s, where playing at the international level was the only feasible way to earn a sustainable living with maybe an additional County contract.
We have identified seven different types of players and how much does each type of cricketer earn. These types are:
- First Class Players Only (Ranji, County, Sheffield Shield)
- Test Player + County contract (ex: Cheteshwar Pujara)
- All 3 format player + IPL contract (ex: David Warner)
- 2 formats + IPL (ex: Ben Stokes, Quinton de Kock)
- Fringe national player + 2/3 franchise leagues per year (ex: Sam Billings)
- Only T20 circuit (ex: Imran Tahir/Tim David)
- TNPL/KPL + IPL Deal (ex: Varun Chakravarthy)
Note the seventh type of player is a rare edge case – those who get selected for the IPL without any domestic or international experience (for ex, Pravin Tambe & TNPL stars like Varun Chakravarthy).
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1. How Much Do First Class Cricketers Earn Per year?
County Cricket Average Annual Salary
- Minimum: $29,000, $19,500 for rookies
- Average; $125,000
How the County Cricket Contract Structure Works
The minimum wage for a County Cricketer is about 24,000 pounds per year ($29,000) and for rookie signings, close to 16,000 pounds per year ($19, 500).
However, actual salaries for more experienced players and overseas signings are probably much higher. For example, in its 2021-22 Annual Report, Kent County spent 2.1 million pounds ($2.5 million) on wages in 2021, provided to 20 cricketers.
This averages to an estimate of about $125,000 per year for a County cricketer.
*Note: The average County salary may vary drastically from county to county based on funding, crowd attendance, etc.
Sources: Various Annual Reports of counties, SKY Sports: Minimum wage for full-time county cricketers to be lowered to £24,000 amid coronavirus pandemic
Ranji Trophy Average Annual Salary
- Minimum: $11,000
- Average: $28,360
- Maximum: $65,250
How the Indian Domestic Cricket Pay Structure Works
The structure for Indian domestic cricket is quite interesting. Indian first-class players are paid per day rather than on a contract basis. Hence a day of Ranji Trophy game or a Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 is worth the same amount.
I am pleased to announce the hike in match fee for domestic cricketers.— Jay Shah (@JayShah) September 20, 2021
Seniors – INR 60,000 (above 40 matches).
Under 23- INR 25,000
Under 19 – INR 20,000#BCCIApexCouncil
Before 2021, all players earned about Rs 35,000 ($440/day) and Rs. 17,500 ($220/day). However, the new Indian domestic salary structure is now dependent on seniority as follows:
|Number of Career Matches Played||Salary (if selected in the XI)||Salary (if in reserves)|
|1-20||Rs 40,000 ($500)||Rs 20,000 ($250)|
|21-40||Rs 50,000 ($630)||Rs 25,000 ($315)|
|41+||Rs 60,000 ($750)||Rs 30,000 ($375)|
A Ranji Trophy league game is usually 4-day games and knockout matches are 5-day games. Hence, the amount of money a player is paid per Ranji Trophy league match is as follows:
- 1-20 matches: $2,000 (in the XI), $1,000 (Reserves)
- 21-40 matches; $2,520 (XI), $1,260 (Reserves)
- 41-60 matches: $3,000 (XI), $1,500 (Reserves)
For knockout matches, the corresponding amount is $2,500 ($1,250 – reserves), $3,150($1,575), and $3,750 (1,875) for the three brackets respectively.
Total Domestic Season Salary
Due to the pandemic disruption, some of the formats were tweaked or tournaments were cancelled altogether. However, we can look back at the 2018-19 season to see how a regular season would look like:
|Tournament||League Games||Knockouts||Maximum Days Played|
|Ranji Trophy||8 (4-day)||3 (5-day)||47|
|Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (New format)||5||4||9|
|Vijay Hazare Trophy||8||3||11|
|Duleep Trophy||2 (4-day)||1 (5-day)||13|
|Irani Cup||1 (4-day)||4|
|Total||25 matches (55 days)||13 (32 days)||87 days|
*Note, the Duleep Trophy (India Blue, India Red, India Green) & Deodhar Trophy (India A, India B, India C) does not include all players, and some of these Indian players might already be on a national contract.
Hence, an experienced player (41+ matches) who has played all 87 days of cricket, can earn up to $65, 250 per season. Of course, that means each of their teams would need to get to the final in these six tournaments, which will be a rare occurrence.
On the other hand, a reserve inexperienced player (less than 20 career matches), who does not get selected for Duleep, Deodhar, and Irani Trophy will receive pay for about 45 days per year. That player can earn about $11,000 per season.
However, an average Indian domestic cricketer is somewhere in the middle. The average player might play all of the Ranji league games, SMAT, and the Vijay Hazare Trophy and may have 21-40 matches in his career. Such a player may earn around $28,630 per season.
Sources: The Indian Express
Sheffield Shield Average Annual Salary
- Maximum: $145,000
According to cricket.com.au, the average retainer salary of domestic Australian cricketer who plays all formats is 198,000 Australian dollars ($145,000).
New Zealand Domestic Cricket Annual Salary
- Minimum: $34,000
- Maximum: $51,700
NZ domestic players earn via an annual Retainer salary plus match fees.
The retainers range from 27,000-53,000 NZ dollars ($17,000-$33,000 USD). The match fees are 1,650 NZD per Plunkett Shield (first class) game, 800 for Ford Trophy (List A), and 575 NZD for T20 Super Smash.
The Plunkett Shield consists of 8 matches per season, 10-12 matches for Ford Trophy, and 10-12 matches for the T20 Super Smash. Hence, a player can earn between 26,950-29,700 NZD ($17,000-$18,700 USD) in match fees.
Hence, the minimum a player can earn is around $34,000 while the maximum is around $51,700.
2. How much do Test cricketers earn per year?
Prototype Player: Cheteshwar Pujara – Test cricketer only, plays in County Cricket in the off season
Cheteshwar Pujara Estimated Annual Salary: $1-1.5 million
Cheteshwar Pujara was demoted from Grade A to Grade B list for the current 2021-2022 season. Grade B pays around 3 crore rupees ($381,000) annually.
In addition, match fee for an Indian Test cricket is about 15 lakh rupees ($19,000). If Pujara plays, on average, 10 Tests per year, then he would earn around $190,000 from match fees.
It is not clear how much Pujara received as an overseas signing for Sussex.
However, since the salary cap is around $2.45 million and the minimum wage for a county player is around $29,000, we can estimate a range of Pujara’s salary. Since there are around 24 cricketers in the squad, if we assume around 10 Sussex cricketers are on minimum wage, 10 more who earn around $50,000, then Pujara might be receiving somewhere between $400,000-$1,000,000 as an overseas signing
Adding it all up, Pujara’s salary is about $1-1.5 million.Embed from Getty Images
3. How much do three format players earn per year?
Prototype Player: David Warner – Plays all 3 formats at the international level & the Indian Premier League (IPL)
David Warner Estimated Annual Salary: $2 million
In the latest rounds of Australian contracts, David Warner earned about 1.5 million AUD ($1 million USD) along with match fees as follows:
- Home Test Fees: $18,000 AUD ($12,500 USD)
- Away Test Fees: $25,000 AUD ($17,275 USD)
- ODI Fees: $7,000 AUD ($4,800 USD)
- T20I Fees $5,500 AUD ($3,800 USD)
Since the 2021 T20 World Cup (including the T20 WC), David Warner has played 10 Tests (5 home, 5 away), 5 ODIs, and 10 T20Is. This amounts to a total of $210,875 in match fees.
In any addition, as a prominent three format player, he was picked at the IPL by Delhi Capitals in the 2022 IPL auction for Rs. 6.25 crore ($791,000).
If we add the national contract, match fees, and IPL deal, then David Warner earns an estimated $2 million per year.
Finally, the Big Bash has restrictions on domestic player for a salary cap of AUD $190,000 ($132,000 USD) for a long three-month tournament, while the UAE International T20 league is offering him $450,000 for a shorter time period. No wonder he wants to skip the BBL.
*Note this does not even include World Cup win award, player of the match awards, or any other endorsement fees.Embed from Getty Images
4. How much do two format players earn per year?
Prototype Player: Ben Stokes, Quinton de Kock – Plays only two formats at the international level & IPL
Ben Stokes Estimated Annual Salary: $1.5 million
Ben Stokes received a retainer fee of about 925,000 pounds ($1.1 million). ECB’s contract for match fees is as follows:
14,500 pounds ($17,600) – Test, 4,500 ($5,500) – ODIs, and 4,500 ($5,500) – T20Is.
Stokes has already played 12 Tests this year with 3 more to come against South Africa next month. Although he hasn’t played many T20Is recently, England are scheduled to play 7 T20Is vs Pakistan, 3 vs Australia, and at least 5 T20Is in the 2022 T20 World Cup for a total of 15 T20Is.
Combining the Test and T20I fees, Stokes could earn about $346,500 in match fees this year.
Also Read: Cricket Self-Implodes: Thailand, The ICC, COVID, Racism, Sex, And Overkill of Cricket – Cricket Controversies 2021, End of Cricket As We Know It? Pakistan, Postponement, Mental Health Crisis, and Overkill of CricketEmbed from Getty Images
5. How much do fringe cricketers earn per year?
Prototype Player: Sam Billings – Not nationally contracted player (reserve player). May IPL & 1-2 other most popular leagues to compensate
Estimated Annual Salary: $700,000-800,000
Sam Billings has been carrying drinks for England since the inception of the Earth. For someone who is always a substitute, never a permanent – how much does he actually earn?
Most famously, he had to drive 500 miles in Australia from the Big Bash as a reserve player in England’s Ashes tour of Australia. He has always been in and out of the squad, but with England’s enviable limited overs depth and with Ben Foakes & Jonny Bairstow already in Tests, he does not get much game time. In his own words,
“It would be a very Sam Billings thing to do to drive nine hours to run the drinks”– Sam Billings
Already 31 years old, Billings has only played 3 Tests, 25 ODIs, and 37 T20Is. Being a reserve player means, he usually travels with the squad, thereby missing out on T20 leagues that happen during this time. Moreso, Billings got removed from the 2021-2022 ECB contract.
This year, he has played 3 Tests, 4 T20Is, and zero ODIs for a total match fee of $74, 800. For a player like him, he has to compensate via multiple streams of income. He just signed a contract extension with Kent, which by our own averages amounts to about $125,000.
T20 League Salaries
Finally, Sam Billings plays in the most popular T20 leagues around the world:
- IPL – He was picked by KKR for Rs 2 crore ($250,000) in IPL 2022 auctions
- The Hundred – Oval Invincibles – Hundred Salary Raise 2022 – 30,000-125,000 pounds ($36,000-$151,000)
- PSL – Islamabad United – Bilings was picked in the Silver Category of the draft – Pakistan Rs. 2.4 million ($10,500)
- He has played an essential part at Sydney Thunder and is most likely to be a part of the new r lucrative overseas draft, which will feature four categories: Platinum – $AUD 340,000 ($236,000), Gold – $AUD 260,000 ($181,000), Silver – $AUD – 175,000 ($121,000), and Bronze – $AUD 100,000 ($70,000).
In total, Billings may earn around $400,000-$650,000 in leagues alone. All in all, Sam Billings’ estimated annual income is around $700,000-800,000 when streams of income are combined.Embed from Getty Images
6. How much do IPL cricketers earn per year on average?
Protype Player: Varun Chakravarthy – Surprise player, rags to riches stories (rare cases), usually sprout up from the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) and the Karnataka Premier League (KPL)
- Minimum: $26,250
- Maximum: $1-2 million
The IPL is a volatile market for salaries.
In the IPL 2022 auction, 204 players were sold for Rs. 54,580 lac total, for an average price of Rs. 267.55 lac ($337,000). KL Rahul was retained for a whopping Rs 17 crore ($2.1 million) per season, while the lowest player was sold at Rs. 20 lacs ($25,000) per season.
Chakravarthy himself was retained by KKR for Rs 8 crore ($1 million). His rise is accredited to the 2018 TNPL season, which resulted in his purchase by KXIP in IPL 2022. Since then, he has made a name for himself in IPL 2021 at KKR and was subsequently selected for the Indian national team for the 2021 T20 World Cup.
Tamil Nadu Premier League salary ranges from Rs. 1-5 lac ($1,250-$6,315) depending on domestic and international experience.
7. How much do T20 leagues freelance cricketers earn per year?
Prototype Player: Tim David, Imran Tahir, Rilee Rossouw (before international comeback) – Unlike Sam Billings, players in this category might not be in the national radar at all and may have the freedom to play in T20 leagues all year around.
- Estimated Annual Salary: $1.7 million
- Tim David
- IPL: 8.25 crore ($1 million)
- PSL: $130,000 (Platinum category)
- Hundred: $36,000-$150,000
- CPL: $20,000-$160,000
- Big Bash: $70,000-$250,000
In addition, players like Rossouw have also played in the Bangladesh Premier League (salaries range from $20,000-$150,000) and the Lanka Premier League ($10,000-$60,000).
With the UAE International T20 league and other smaller leagues sprouting up, this salary will inevitably rise as the number of leagues will grow (quality may decrease, though).Embed from Getty Images
Changes in Cricket Over the Last Few Months
Let us review what has transpired recently in the cricketing world.
- South Africa forfeits ODI Super League points to nurture their homegrown T20 league
- Ben Stokes retires from ODIs; Quinton de Kock retires earlier in the year from Tests
- The new 2023-27 FTP is unveiled – IPL gets larger window, BBL/Hundred get window in national calendars; Tests among Big 3 grows
- BCCI breaks records on IPL broadcast deals in the next five years – Rs. 48,390 crore ($6.2 billion)
- The debate on ‘death of ODI cricket‘ rages on due to proliferation of T20 leagues
- IPL owners buy all six of the South African franchise & some of the UAE International T20 league
- T20 league window battle ensues between the UAE-Australia-South Africa in terms of a schedule window & recruiting players like David Warner
- South Africa’s Kolpak players return to the national fold
The list goes on and on. Cricket is changing fast. If you blink, you’ll miss what is happening.
Where do all these issues stem from? The issue involves MONEY.
In this series, we will research and investigate it all. How much money does each cricket board earn, who are the richest cricketers, how are resources divided in international tournaments, how much money it takes to host Test cricket, etc., but today we focus on the central issue – how much do different types of cricketers earn per year?
Why Does This Matter?
Player salaries matter because that dictates the choices that players will make.
Even though Cricket Australia offers hefty contracts to their national players, especially to top tier players like David Warner, Steve Smith, and Aaron Finch, this innate structure is being threatened by the money in franchise leagues.
It is rumored that the UAE International T20 league will be the second most lucrative league after the IPL, and they are offering around $450,000 for Australian players to poach them from the Big Bash League, that is held during the same time.
If top Australian players do not opt for the Big Bash, who will? This may create conflict between the players and the national board, which can result in a messy standoff. Australian cricket could lose money, which would jeopardize the national contracts.
For the other players like New Zealand & South Africa, playing in foreign leagues is not an option but a necessity. They do not get paid nearly enough to afford a decent living.
Finally, in an age of T20, players like Pujara and solely domestic/Test players are squeezed out. County cricket offers another stream of income, but with separation of formats a possibility, maybe an international First-Class franchise league may be an idea to think about.
Other Readings – Cricket Innovations
- Alternative World Test Championship Points Table: Australia Should Be In the World Test Championship Final & I Have The Data To Prove It
- How to Fix Test Championship Points Table
- Make Test Cricket Great Again & Restore The Soul of this Wonderful Sport — Part I
- Make Test Cricket Great Again & Restore The Soul of this Wonderful Sport — Part II: The Problems With Test Cricket
- World Test Championship Table: Surprising Changes
- Relegation & Promotion Proposal in World Test Championship: Make Test Cricket Great Again Part III
- 15 Cricket Problems That Needs to Be Solved in the Next Decade | How to Fix Cricket 101
Frequently Asked Questions
First class cricketers earn anywhere between $30,000-$145,000 per year depending on the nation, with an average of about $85,000.
Cheteshwar Pujara’s annual estimated salary is around $1-1.5 million.
Ben Stokes earns around $1.5 million (excluding captaincy bonuses, IPL deals, and other endorsements).
David Warner earns about $2 million annually from his national contracts, match fees, and IPL deal alone.s
County cricketers earn a minimum wage of 24,000 pounds ($29,000). However, county teams have a salary cap of $2-3 million. Hence experienced players and overseas signings may be signed around $400,000-$1,000,000. Therefore, the average salary of a County cricketer may be estimated to be around $125,000.
Indian first-class domestic players earn based on their experience. Salaries may range from $11,000 for inexperienced players on the reserve squad, while experienced players who play most of the matches may earn up to $65,000.
Image Courtesy: Getty Embed
© Copyright @Nitesh Mathur and Broken Cricket Dreams, 2021. Originally published on 08/04/2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Broken Cricket Dreams with appropriate and specific direction to the original content (i.e. linked to the exact post/article).