In the best of wealth

Judhajit Basu

Call it the rub of the 'green'. Indian captain MS Dhoni is the world's highest-earning cricketer, according to the Top 10 list compiled by business magazine Forbes. With earnings to the tune of US$10 million, Dhoni is followed by Sachin Tendulkar in second place (US$8 million), while Yuvraj Singh (US$5.5 million) and Rahul Dravid are third and fourth respectively. The Indian representation is complete with Sourav Ganguly who shared the sixth place with Australian captain Ricky Ponting, with both raking in US$3.5 million.

"Paycheck figures include club and national team salaries and commercial endorsement income over the last 12 months," Forbes said. With its deep-pocketed owners and global appeal, nine of the 10 highest-paid cricket players call the Indian Premier League (IPL) home.

Take MS Dhoni, who plays for the Chennai Super Kings and tops our list as cricket's first $10 million-a-year man (that's $5,426 for each run scored). His $8 million in endorsements, from the likes of Reebok, General Electric and Pepsi, is 45 per cent more than any other player.

Among all Indian athletes and entertainers, Dhoni's 17 corporate sponsors is second only to Bollywood star and co-owner of the Kolkata Knight Riders, Shah Rukh Khan."

The IPL connection, in fact, has also helped boost Tendulkar's figures. "He's one of five IPL players who have been bestowed 'icon' status, meaning he automatically receives a pay cheque 15% larger than his highest paid teammate," the magazine said. "Tendulkar's $1.1 million salary from the Mumbai Indians helped push his total earnings to $8 million over the last 12 months."

England's Andrew Flintoff comes in at fifth, with earnings of $4 million, ahead of Ponting and Ganguly, who are followed by Australia's Brett Lee and England's Kevin Pietersen tied at eighth place with US$3 million each. Australian Michael Clarke rounds off the list at 10th with earnings of US$2.5 million.