Sunil Gavaskar receiving the Hall of Fame cap by Kapil Dev in the presence of former greats in Dubai a few years back. Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News archive

Dubai: Top Indian cricketers have come together to help cricketers who are struggling after losing jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and also those who do not receive any pension.

Leading the campaign is the Indian Cricketers Association (ICA) with legendary captains Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev backing the mission. A sum of IRS 3,900,000 (nearly Dh 200,000) has been raised to help former cricketers who are struggling with all sources of income coming to a standstill.

Speaking to Gulf News, former Indian cricketer Surinder Khanna, the ICA representative in the Indian Premier League (IPL), said: “ICA will raise funds for women and men cricketer’s welfare as we feel it is our duty to help fellow cricketers, especially the needy ones, during this phase.”

Though the BCCI provides pension to former cricketers, there are many who have missed the cut for not having played the required number of matches to be eligible for the pension. “The BCCI provides pension to all cricketers who have played more than 25 first class matches for the state but we will try to help even those who played from one to 24 matches and are missing out on any financial help. Some of them do not even get a state pension though they have represented their state,” said Khanna.

Some of these cricketers who are affected have played with the top cricketers but have been unlucky in their career in failing to make it big. “We are fortunate that senior cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev have come forward to back the effort. Mohammad Azharuddin is also in the forefront along with recent cricketers like Gautam Gambhir. We will accept donations till May 15 and then distribute the money,” informed Khanna.

“Many cricket lovers are also coming forward to contribute money to this fund. We may also get contributions from corporate companies. We are trying to get tax exemption for this effort, and if that happens then many more may come forward to contribute to our effort,” said Khanna, who is thankful to all cricketers who have felt that they should help their needy colleagues. The ICA, which is India’s first-ever players’ association, has 1750 registered members.

“We know that what we are today is due to cricket and hence we feel it is our duty to give back to the game that gave us everything. At the same time, we feel that we should also help those who haven’t managed to earn enough from the game,” remarked Khanna.