For Zimbabwe’s cricketers in the T20 World Cup, Sunday’s match against India in Melbourne is a chance to play against a star-studded team on the big stage before returning to the cricketing blur and their day jobs.
The Netherlands, playing against South Africa in Adelaide on the same day, have contracted cricketers to act as consultants in their squad. They are in Australia on unpaid leave. The team’s manager had to return home midway through the tournament because his office insisted that he return to work.
The Dutch are out of the semi-final race, while Zimbabwe’s chances of progressing are slim if they lose to India.
“Our directors do not get paid. One of them had to go to work because his office was calling him. So, we had to call a new manager. We have two players, Stefan Myberg and N Teja, who work in a consultancy company and are playing the World Cup on unpaid leave. They will return to their offices when the tournament is over,” said Netherlands pacer Paul van Meekeren.
Zimbabwe, like all the other teams in the competition, are staying in posh hotels in Australia. But when they get home, some of them will return to the daily grind. Last week, the team pulled off a last-ball win against Pakistan, but their lives off the field are unlikely to change.
“I don’t want to name names because we don’t want sympathy, but one of my teammates works as a car wash, another as a delivery man and the third earns a living by selling sporting goods,” a Zimbabwean player told The Indian. to express.
The issue of player contracts is a touchy and controversial issue for Zimbabweans, who have gone on strike over their salaries in the past. Their match against India on Sunday is one of cricket’s haves and have-nots.
Zimbabwean players are paid a match fee of $1,500 (roughly Rs. 1.23 lakh) per Test. Centrally contracted Indian cricketers earn Rs 15 lakh for each Test match.
The team’s next series schedule is in trouble. “We are scheduled to play Afghanistan later this year, but we have now been told that the series is in doubt as all the Afghanistan players will be playing in different T20 leagues,” said another Zimbabwean cricketer.
Uncertainty is an ongoing issue in Zimbabwean cricket.
In 2018, the International Cricket Council had to bail out Zimbabwe Cricket as the board was unable to pay match fees to players and had outstanding bills. Top teams rarely send full-strength squads to tour the country, with income from Zimbabwean cricket’s media rights limited. Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma were rested this year when India toured Zimbabwe for an ODI series after six years.
A member of the support staff recalled how at one point before the players protested against non-payment of match fees, the cricket board had no money to provide water and cricket balls for practice.
“Some of us borrowed money to pay our children’s school fees,” said a player.
Dutch cricketers also work to make ends meet.
They also double up as coaches or trainers at academies and look for opportunities to play league cricket overseas like in England and New Zealand.
Those who were in contention but left out of the World Cup squad are back in action immediately.
The Netherlands squad is also relatively young as many leave the game when they get better paying jobs.
“We have seen players retire from Dutch cricket at a very young age because they get job opportunities or have to go into work after finishing their studies. We don’t have old guys in our team – we don’t have guys over 28 who are playing and working for the national team. They probably set up Dutch until 23-24 and they finish and take a full-time job,” Van Meekeren said.
Van Meekeren started catering himself after the English team Somerset’s contract expired. He worked for Uber Eats and then as a part-time salesman before Gloucestershire signed him for two years.