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Before returning to their day jobs, another chance on the big stage for Dutch, Zimbabwean cricketers – The Indian Express

For Zimbabwe’s cricketers at the T20 World Cup, the match against India in Melbourne on Sunday is an opportunity to play on the big stage against a star-studded team before they return to cricketing obscurity and their day jobs.
The Netherlands, which play South Africa in Adelaide on the same day, have in their ranks contracted cricketers who work as consultants. They are in Australia on leave without pay. The team’s manager had to fly back home midway through the tournament because his office insisted he return to work.
The Dutch have been eliminated from the semifinal race, while Zimbabwe’s chances of progressing are minimal even if they defeat India.
“Our managers don’t get paid. One of them had to go for work as his office had been calling him. So, we had to call a new manager. We have two players, Stephan Myburgh and N Teja, who work at a consultancy company and are playing the World Cup on leave without pay. They will be back at their office when the tournament gets over,” Netherlands seamer Paul Van Meekeren said.
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Zimbabwe, like all the other teams in the competition, have been staying at posh hotels in Australia. But when they reach home, some of them will get back to the daily grind. Last week, the team had pulled off a last-ball win against Pakistan, but their off-the-field lives are unlikely to change.
“I don’t want to give names because we don’t want sympathy, but one of my teammates works in a car wash, another is a delivery man and a third makes a living selling sports goods,” a Zimbabwe player told The Indian Express.
The subject of player contracts has been a touchy and controversial one for the Zimbabweans, who have, in the past, gone on strike for their wages. Their match on Sunday against India is one between cricket’s haves and have-nots.
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Zimbabwe’s players are paid a match fee of $1,500 (approximately Rs 1.23 lakh) per Test. A centrally contracted Indian cricketer takes home Rs 15 lakh for each Test match.
The team’s next series has run into scheduling issues. “We are scheduled to play Afghanistan later this year, but we are now told that the series is doubtful as all Afghanistan players will be playing different T20 leagues,” another Zimbabwe cricketer said.
Uncertainty is a running theme in Zimbabwe cricket.
In 2018, the International Cricket Council had to bail out Zimbabwe Cricket because the board was unable to pay players’ match fees and had outstanding bills. With top teams rarely sending full-strength teams to tour the country, Zimbabwe Cricket’s earnings from media rights is limited. This year, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma were rested when India travelled to Zimbabwe for an ODI series after six years.
A member of the support staff recalled how at one point, before the players protested over unpaid match fees, the cricket board didn’t have money to provide water and cricket balls for practice.
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“Some of us even borrowed money to pay the school fees of our children,” a player said.
Dutch cricketers, too, work jobs to make ends meet.
They also double up as coaches or trainers at academies, and look for opportunities to play league cricket abroad, like in England and New Zealand.
Those who were in contention but missed out on the World Cup squad reported back to work immediately.
The Netherlands squad is also relatively young because many quit the sport when they get better paying jobs.
“We have seen players retiring from Dutch cricket at a very young age as they get job opportunities or they finish studies and have to go into a job. We don’t have old guys in the team — we don’t have guys aged 28-plus who are playing for the national team and work. They are probably in the Dutch set up till 23-24 and they finish and take up a full-time job,” van Meekeren said.
Van Meekeren himself had started delivering food when his contract at English side Somerset ended. He worked for Uber Eats and then as a part-time salesman before Gloucestershire signed him for two years.
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