10 July 2013

NZ Cricket 2013/14 contracts

Monday's announcement of the 20 players contracted to the New Zealand national cricket team provides a once a year chance to examine where the game planners feel their team is headed in the coming year. The list of 20 players doesn't preclude selecting players from outside the list, but it provides a guaranteed base income for the highest-ranked (male) players in the country and signals that those outside the top 20 need to improve their game to challenge for a spot.

This year's announcement saw Tom Latham, Hamish Rutherford, Mitchell McClenaghan, Corey Anderson, Colin Munro and Bruce Martin join the list. Departures from the last contract (including two retirements) were Daniel Vettori (taking a year out to recover from injury), Chris Martin, Jacob Oram, James Franklin, Andrew Ellis, Daniel Flynn, Rob Nicol, Tarun Nethula and Kruger van Wyk. It might be interesting to note that of the 20 contracts, five are held by non-New Zealand-born players, with four South African-born players (Watling, Wagner, Munro and Elliott) plus Brownlie, who came from Australia in 2009.

NZ Cricket does not publish the actual order of the 20-strong contract list, which is diplomatic of them because the list ranking determines the cricketers' base salary, with each step on the ladder earning more than the one beneath. Test performances and potential are supposed to be weighted above performances in the shorter forms of the game, reflecting that the side needs some players who are not suited to limited overs cricket. Here's my guess at how the top 20 list might be ranked, based on the assumption that captain Brendon McCullum must be ranked no.1 and the presumed whisper from NZC to the Dominion Post writer at the weekend that listed the bottom five contract holders in a plausible order.

1
Brendon McCullum
11
Dean Brownlie
2
Ross Taylor
12
Peter Fulton
3
Tim Southee
13
Kyle Mills
4
Kane Williamson
14
Doug Bracewell
5
Martin Guptill
15
Neil Wagner
6
Trent Boult
16
Tom Latham
7
BJ Watling
17
Corey Anderson
8
Nathan McCullum
18
Colin Munro
9
Hamish Rutherford
19
Grant Elliott
10
Mitchell McClenaghan
20
Bruce Martin

The top contract reportedly earns an annual retainer of $181,425, with each rank below earning progressively about $6000 less, down to the bottom three contracts, which each earn a retainer of $73,000. This sounds like relatively modest rewards for playing international cricket, but in reality the additional match fees make a big difference.  For 2013/14 the match fees for the New Zealand men's team have been set at
NZ$7508 per test, $3250 per ODI and $2120 per T20I.

If you consider the number of games played by the contract holders in the past 12 months you gain a rough idea of how much they might be earning in a year's cricket. The rewards are considerable. Naturally, emerging players may only have played for part of the last season so their tally for 2013/14 may differ considerably. 

No.
Name
$Base
$Match
$Total?
1
Brendon McCullum
181,425
184,654
366,079
2
Ross Taylor
175,425
156,778
332,203
3
Tim Southee
169,425
125,792
295,217
4
Kane Williamson
163,425
173,204
336,629
5
Martin Guptill
157,425
134,272
291,697
6
Trent Boult
151,425
122,456
273,881
7
BJ Watling
145,425
123,356
268,781
8
Nathan McCullum
139,425
89,310
228,735
9
Hamish Rutherford
133,425
54,640
188,065
10
Mitchell McClenaghan
127,425
49,460
176,885
11
Dean Brownlie
121,425
67,572
188,997
12
Peter Fulton
115,425
39,660
155,085
13
Kyle Mills
109,425
70,090
179,515
14
Doug Bracewell
103,425
84,672
188,097
15
Neil Wagner
97,425
60,064
157,489
16
Tom Latham
91,425
22,610
114,035
17
Corey Anderson
85,425
13,850
99,275
18
Colin Munro
73,000
34,218
107,218
19
Grant Elliott
73,000
30,240
103,240
20
Bruce Martin
73,000
30,032
103,032

To reiterate - the '$Match' column above is a guess at game fees earned based on last year's number of international appearances. While the calculations and the contract rankings are supposition, they do show that the idea of New Zealand cricketers as underpaid novices is a myth. Even the lowest-ranked players can earn a healthy $100,000 salary. And at the top levels, senior players attract hefty sums: using the above guesses, the take-home weekly pay of the captain Brendon McCullum might be around $4850 per week, while veteran short-form bowler Kyle Mills might earn $2450 per week. 

This amount of pay is hardly world-shattering when compared with the millions earned by cricketers in India, England and Australia. But it might be worth remembering how much some younger players are taking home: 24-year-old Tim Southee potentially earning $3900 per week; 22-year-old Kane Williamson taking home $4450. Then the next time a high-living scandal emerges along the lines of Doug Bracewell's foot injury, remember these are young men flush with cash, and sometimes that can contribute to poor decision-making on and off the field.
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