LONDON - They won the Champions Trophy in June, were the No. 1-ranked Test side as recently as October last year, and have only just lost their first series at home in ten years, but Pakistan's players are among the worst paid in world cricket., figures collected by ESPNcricinfo reveal.

It notes that although Pakistan's top tier cricketers make as much as those of other nations with comparable revenues, they manage to do this only by playing more matches in the year since their basic retainers are much lower.

Sarfraz Ahmed, for example makes $300,000 in a year but is likely to lose much more in monetary terms if he suffers an injury, compared to counterparts Kane Williamson, Jason Holder and Angelo Mathews.

This is despite the fact that the Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) revenues are comparable to those of New Zealand, West Indies and Sri Lanka's boards, the report noted. Surprisingly, the retainers of top tier players for the Champions Trophy winners are less than those of Ireland, which has yet to play a Test match. One of the reasons for this disparity is the lack of a players' association in the country, while most other cricketing nations now have them. Interestingly, Indian players too are facing this particular disadvantage when negotiating with their cricket board, since they too lack a player's association like their neighbours.

A player in Pakistan's top contract bracket will be on an annual retainer ($74,014) that is marginally less than the top contract for an Ireland player ($75,000). Let that sink in (Ireland's top salary retainer is also higher than those of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe). A player like Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan's captain, will end up earning more in a year, of course - and he quadruples his base salary in 2017 - because he plays more often and plays across three formats. To some degree the low retainer is compensated by a more generous match-fee structure that elevates them to a mid-ranking side in terms of pay.

But Pakistani players will argue their plight is compounded by a lack of access to the richest domestic league in the sport, or an especially bountiful payout from the PCB's commercial rights. The years of exile have played a part no doubt, as has India refusing to play them (that has also significantly reduced the true value of a broadcast deal reportedly worth $150 million over five years).

The cost of running an excessively vast domestic calendar is another drain. The PCB earns revenue comparable to West Indies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, and so the vast differences in retainer amounts between Pakistani players and those representing those three countries stands out: Kane Williamson, Jason Holder and Angelo Mathews all make double, or nearly double, what Sarfraz does on their retainer. Sarfraz makes up for it with his total earnings, but such a system puts intense pressure on the player; an injury in Sarfraz's case is of far greater harm monetarily than it is for Mathews, Williamson or Holder. Like with India, the case for setting up a Pakistani players' association has never been stronger.

Yet, it pays to be the coach of a sub-continental team. Pakistan's Mickey Arthur, for example earns three times more than a Pakistani player in the top category and Indian coach Ravi Shastri makes a whopping $1.17m, which is higher than Indian skipper Virat Kohli's earnings from contracts and match fees. Australia's Steven Smith is the highest paid cricketer in the world with annual earnings from contracts and match fees standing at $1.47m, while England's Joe Root makes $1.38m and Kohli earns $1m.

Compared to player earnings in other sports, however, cricketers are at a clear disadvantage monetarily as the highest earners in football, Formula One, basketball, golf and tennis all make astronomically more money than the highest paid cricketers.