The strange, sometimes outright deplorable, ways of Delhi and District Cricket Association never cease to amaze.
The latest addition to its list of misdeeds involves its callous approach in dealing with its umpires and scorers. It needs umpires to run the local league but cannot pay them (non-DDCA members) for their services.
“It has become very difficult to pursue this profession. I need the money to meet the expenses at home,” said an umpire, who is on the verge of giving up his officiating career.
A senior umpire added: “As it is, we do a thankless job. It is not easy to stand for 40 or 50 overs in the searing heat. At some venues we don’t even have basic facilities. And then, at the end of the day, there is no assurance of receiving the payment.”
These match officials carry out their duties in temperatures of well over 40 degrees in the summers and in the biting cold in the Capital’s winters. Yet, they have gone without their match-fees for 10 months!
A non-panel umpire gets Rs.800 and one on the state panel Rs.1,000 per match. For a Board-accredited umpire, the payment is Rs.1,200 per match.
The scorers too get paid Rs.800 or Rs.1,100 depending on category.
For super league and hot weather matches of the DDCA the payments improves slightly. It is, however, much below the fee that the Board pays First Class match officials: Rs.15,000 to Rs.20,000 per day for the umpires and Rs.5,000 per day for the scorers.
“It is a decent amount though it can be better. For some of us, it is our bread and butter. Many of us run our households from these earnings,” said a veteran local umpire.
The fear of being isolated, victimised and denied postings discourages the umpires from speaking on record.
Encouraged by the returns from the profession, a few have reportedly given up regular jobs to take up umpiring, the reason being the refusal of leave from their offices for cricket duty.
The situation has worsened in the last two years, and it has become dire for some this season. To meet the expenses at home, they had taken loans from the market and now are struggling to keep things afloat since no payment has been made to them by the DDCA.
Incidentally, the DDCA receives an annual subsidy of Rs.37 crore from the Board. Even the junior squads are known to travel by air, and the DDCA, to its credit, does meet most of its players’ demands in all groups.
But the umpires and scorers are languishing. So are the state selectors of all groups. They have not been paid either for the last two seasons.
According to DDCA president Sneh Bansal, the association’s hands are tied.
“We are going by the Registrar of Society (RoS) rules. We are not permitted to pay any individual if he is a DDCA member. Of the five BCCI panel umpires, three are DDCA members. Similarly, some selectors are DDCA members. If we pay the non-members then the others will be up in arms. Our application to allow us to pay them was rejected by the RoC. The DDCA had to pay a heavy fine following the ruling by the Serious Fraud Investigation on these issues. It is not deliberate. We will approach the ministry concerned (Corporate Affairs) to suggest a solution,” said Bansal.
With the former DDCA President Arun Jaitely taking over as the Minister of Corporate Affairs on May 26, there is hope for the suffering umpires and scorers.
Meanwhile, the DDCA will have to have to find a way out soon since many umpires and scorers are looking at other avenues, like officiating more in private tournaments, for sustenance.
At this rate, umpires and scorers playing truant at league matches could become an embarrassing reality for the DDCA.