Whoever said there was no money in cricket needs to have a word with Shane Watson after it was today revealed the allrounder earned $4.5 million in 2014.
The Business Review Weekly Top 50 Sports Earners list has Watson as the highest-paid Australian cricketer and the eighth richest sportsperson in the country, edging out teammates Mitchell Johnson ($4.1m) in 10th and skipper Michael Clarke ($4m) in 11th.
Watson’s $2.2m contract with Indian Premier League side Rajasthan Royals comprises of almost half of his annual wages, and has reportedly been retained for the same wage for this season.
Quick Single: IPL auction winners and losers
Overall, there are 13 cricketers in the top 50, all of whom earned more than $1m in the 2014 calendar year.
The earnings come from a combination of prize money, salaries and commercial sponsorships.
Ten of the 13 played in the lucrative IPL last season, with a handful competing the Champions League T20 competition.
Clarke, who doesn’t play T20 cricket, benefits from his captaincy bonus and his sponsorship deals with bat manufacturer Spartan, BP and Hubolt.
Brett Lee, who retired from international cricket in 2012 and the KFC T20 Big Bash League this summer, has four Indian sponsors, including acting as a global ambassador for Castrol India and Venky’s, an Indian chicken company.
While Watson tops the list of cricketers, he has a long way to go to catch Australia’s richest athlete in NBA star Andrew Bogut.
Bogut, the No.1 draft pick in 2005, netted $16.2m for the league leading Golden State Warriors in the second year of his three-year deal.
The 213cm center leads golfers Adam Scott ($15.5m) and Jason Day ($10.65m), NASCAR driver Marcus Ambrose ($5.68m) and Socceroos star Tim Cahill ($5.5m).
Australian cricket's rich list
The 13 Australian cricketers that feature in BRW's Top 50 Sports Earners list for 2014
Australia's $33m XI
Australia could field a World Cup XI made up entirely of millionaires if they chose to do so. The team is a bowler light – Josh Hazlewood, Patrick Cummins and Mitchell Marsh haven't quite cracked the million-dollar mark yet – but the range of allrounders means finding 50 overs should be no problem for these millionaires.
The XI would have a combined earnings total of $33m - with another $2.9m generated by retired international cricketers Brett Lee and Michael Hussey.