Even if one ignores all the events of the past few years, and just looks at the past few weeks and the frenzy thats been whipped up, its hard not to get the feeling that there’s a strong possibility of a chapter in cricket history books about to be changed somewhere.
I’ll tell you where I’m coming from. (I’ve ignored / absorbed / absolved history till Darryl Hair and Twenty20 and Ovalgate etc..) I’m starting in 2007.
First there was the bit of the insignificant stuff. Well, not insignificant and come to think of it , page turners too. But they happen every once in a while. Not a murder. But retirements. Like cycles in life. And World Cups. We had those this time as well. We always do. Small factor.
Then India and Pakistan got jettisoned from the World Cup. No small issue. They’re THE audience. And they more than control the purse strings. They control the interest in the game. Much as we dislike saying it , Mandira Bedi and Charu Sharma’s viewership counts for something. It did. Another factor. Not small.
Yesterday came news, (since denied) that Shane Warne, Brian Lara and Glenn Mcgrath were amongst those already contracted by ZEE for the ICL to join up for the league starting as soon as October. (Update : Kapil, More, Tony Greig, Dean Jones on the comittee.)
Among the rumblings on the sites that carried the story for Spin, was the name of Sachin Tendulkar.
The logic behind the Sachin name takes us to the other story thats brewing. The issue with the Indian players contracts with the BCCI. And the fact that they haven’t been paid since the Champions trophy.
The other is the BIG issue of Players endorsements. Its really hard to understand, how any player or individual, can be asked to put a cap on his salary or number of endorsements. The legality and clauses governining payments within them is another issue but a cap on the number of endorsements ? Thats pure humbug. And this from the BCCI which says to every negotiator (rather justly, in my opinion) , “we have the market , you name your price” . The BCCI et al need to understand (and probably do) that the reverse holds true as well. The concept of stifling income is not going to work. No matter how you cut it. Thats not how markets work. They find a way. When a cricket player is hot and a brand wishes to endorse him or the public wishes to see him when he is not playing , the market will find a way. Thats just the way it is. Those things don’t change. Its not a small issue by any means and could be one of the bigger ones when it really hits the fan (pun not intended. Yet.)
Call it a conspiracy theory. But I’m 38 and it could be senility. Or immaturity. And Sharad Pawar at the BCCI isn’t a bad businessman. Altho he might make a bad deal once in a while. Lalit Modi isn’t a bad one either. Altho he’s doubtless made a few bad decisions too. And Subhash Chandra isn’t a bad deal maker altho he’s had a few bad apples as well. But together, ….thats a different story. Don’t ignore the ICL !
And its not just India thats feeling the unrest. Board issues have been the norm for quite a while now. Its just that the stakes are getting bigger. Equally importantly , as the so called custodians of the game are upping the money stakes, the shelf life of those expected to perform is getting shorter. The standards expected of them getting more and more stringent. Something’s going to give.
Later today, as Mark Nicholas says, a few really important people are going to meet. Hopefully something constructive comes out of it. Because it sure needs to. I don’t always like agreeing with Ian Chappell.
But like I said. My Spider Sense is Tingling. And I’d rather be supporting cricket the way it is than a club side. I’ll leave that to Soccer.