I’d go with Dent. Or perhaps Murphy with his Law.
Every day, working for the government (please do NOT point out the oxymoron, it’s been done) seems a sane option. My employers have framed rules governing my service. They’ve set up independent adjudicating bodies to decide disputes within that framework. Outside my professional commitments, they pretty much let me do my own thing. Blogging? Who cares? (What’s a blog anyway?) Getting published in the press? There’s even a rule that says, pretty much, “we don’t give a big rat’s ass”. Partying five nights a week? They don’t own my booty once it’s out the office door, I can shake it where I like. They’ll even pay me a pension if I stick around for another couple of years. (They don’t pay me much, but then one can’t have everything)
Now if I played cricket for
So far, it makes some kind of sense. The Board is paying for the best, they’re recruiting/deploying on a case-to-case, best-available basis. Like insurance salesmen getting the annual bonus, sport is about competition.
Move on now. Who decides what is good enough? The selectors. Are they qualified to judge me? Have they been through the same grind? Well, the Board is getting there. Vengsarkar’s credentials can’t be questioned, Venkatapathy “Muscles” Raju has played enough international cricket. But
So the Board has woken up and decided to appoint professional selectors on the basis of qualifications, pay them and send them round
But limiting the number of sponsorships? Come off it! Where does the Board make its money? Television. Where do the sponsors show off their contracted players? Television. So what is the Board saying, in effect? That THEY can make money from television but their indentured slaves cannot. Is that fair? I think not.
Do the players tell the Board to improve playing conditions? Presumably not. They’re labour, not management, and they don’t have an effective union to put pressure on the top brass. Does the public make a big fuss about stadia with no shade, no drinking water, no loos and broken seats? Hardly. At best, they stay away from the matches and watch them on television instead.
What does the public want to see? Not cricket per se, but
The average player has an effective international career of about 5 years. Sachin’s 18 years at the top level so far, or
So why should the Board come in the way of players making some money while they still can? If Dhoni or Kaif or Rahul want to put away a nest egg, is it right for the Board to stand in their way?
The players should be judged on performance. Perhaps even on fitness levels. Not on whether they make money because they look good in ads (or not – “Palmolive da jawaab nahin” became a national catch-phrase, but what about Rapidex English-speaking courses?) You know, this entire issue seems to be fuelled more by envy than by rationality – “do you know how much Yuvraj makes from those ads?!”. Doesn’t make sense to me. It’s a juvenile and short-sighted attitude. It could even be counter-productive – the lure of sponsorships could drive players to perform, taking away the contracts certainly doesn’t add to their motivation.
The Board makes money from television, leverages the demand in the market. Sometimes it even uses government arm-twisting to make extra money, as in the recent row over the telecast rights. Now it wants to limit the players’ entry to the same market. I think it’s not fair. It goes against the principles of the free market. Who’s going to stand up to them? Not the players, but perhaps the sponsors will. In one sense, they are the paymasters. More power to them, I say (though Shah Rukh Khan may not agree). What do YOU say?