We just concluded two shopping days where 8 participants collectively spent more than a whopping INR 100 Crores. Yes, we refer to the IPL Auction. With a total of 122 players signed up, this auction is regarded as the biggest sporting spectacle in the world. In the meantime on the other side of the world, the home of cricket will quietly start its county cricket season.
County cricket in the UK traces its origins to the early 18th century. This gives it an aura of tradition and class. With county cricket being played on lush green tops amendable to swing and seam fast bowling – it is long regarded as the go-to place to develop the skill set for a cricketer to play in these conditions (especially from the subcontinent). It offers cricketers a sense of prestige, along with the experience that comes with playing in different (western) conditions. Even the God of cricket Sachin Tendulkar himself opined “the greatest four and a half months I have spent in my life” while talking about his stint at the Yorkshire County Club. Salaries in county cricket also play a part in interesting cricketers from India (and the rest of the world) with the higher end of the salaries going up to a £100,000 pounds.
That being said, not a lot of Indian cricketers end up with the opportunity to play County in the UK as they are hamstrung by lack of visas. County Clubs will put in efforts for big names like Tendulkar, and more recently Cheteshwar Pujara (who just penned a deal with Yorkshire for the 2018 domestic season), but not for lesser-known names. This is because they may not find the effort to be worth it. This along with the difficulty in getting the required permissions from the BCCI and intimidating UK visa process (The Tier 2 Sportsperson visa in this case) does not make things easier for the players.
Cricketers from outside the EU/EEA can be eligible to play cricket in the UK under any of the following routes:
- Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa: This category is for elite sportspeople and coaches who are internationally established at the highest level, and will make significant contributions to the development of their sport. Each application of the Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa will need to be endorsed by the sport’s governing body in the country.
- UK Tier 5 Creative and Sporting Visa: If you have been offered work as a sportsperson or a creative worker, you fall into this category. A creative worker is someone who works in the Creative industry, for example, an actor, dancer, musician or film crew member. The duration of the Tier 5 Visa for sportsperson is up to 1 year and for creative workers, it is up to 2 years.
The T20 leagues are here to stay and opportunities are going to continue to grow. The IPL auction excitement year after year is a testament to that fact. But when it comes to personal fulfillment for a cricketer, County Cricket in the UK continues to be the dream. Every aspiring Indian cricket star dreams of spending at least one season with one of the traditionalist County Cricket teams in England.
If you are a Club in the UK and want to apply for a sponsor licence, contact us for the UK Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa. If you are a player who has received interest from a club and wants to know how to go about it, contact us for a sports visa for the UK or as they say in the parlance, ‘Play On’.
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