Right Choice, Baby !

With all the IPL auction dust settling down, the per ball income for Ishant Sharma calculated, the anguished cries of non Indian socialists the world over (How can a nation with so much poverty, display such obscene wealth) heard politely, reasons for the success / failure of the league analysed to bare bones, Ricky Ponting’s self targeting jokes laughed at (Though the best joke might still be out there – Saurav Ganguly captaining Ponting and Akhtar – now that has the potential to be a winner. The only competition to this one maybe the top order of the Bengaluru team viz.,  Jaffer, Chanderpaul, Dravid and Kallis – that’s a separate topic for discussion), Mike Hussey’s SMS to his brother relayed the world over, Bhajji’s post auction shopping spree well documented, SRK’s touching gesture of ‘giving back something to the people of India’ by buying the Kolkata team members well appreciated, Mrs. (!!!!) Preity Zinta (that’s Lalit Modi, not me) overcoming the shock by buying Irfan Pathan for a shocking USD 925K. One can go on and on but guess the reader has got a crash course of the notable headlines during/ after the auctions. If this was the trailer for the league, one hopes that the actual movie lives up to the trailer.

In all this glittering glamour (or is it glamorous glitter), there were a few stories that stood out. The underlying theme of many of these stories was – “Sacrifice”. Maybe it’s a strong word to use. Maybe modern day human beings are unused to such strong actions. Maybe one can call it “compromise”. One just wants to draw the public attention to the men and their stories. One is not trying to pass judgments here in terms of who is better ‘morally’. Nor is one trying to portray the participating players as petty money minded individuals. They are professionals and have as much a right to secure their financial future as, say you and I. But what drove the exceptions to renounce the lure of instant riches. Was it their own internal voice or was it circumstances that drove them? The 3 men that most attracted one’s attention were Justin Langer, Michael Clarke and VVS Laxman.

The first two have been adequately covered and hailed by the Australian media. Justin Langer will honour his commitment to play for Somerset instead of joining the Jaipur team. “When you go to your grave, people will remember what you did with your life rather than how much money you made…” he said. Noble thoughts indeed! One wonders what he felt when he initially signed up for the IPL. Because a person with such philosophical bent of mind would have not signed up for such money making soulless machine. One may give him the benefit of doubt for having second thoughts. But was that related in any way to the fact that he was not bought in the first round of the auction? One wouldn’t want to question his ‘integrity’ (its become a buzz word now days in Australia. It seems one has to take a spelling test before being signed up by CA. Current test players are exempt. That explains Symonds.), so one leaves it at that.

Michael (Pup) Clarke is an interesting contrast. He decided against joining the IPL to spend time with his ailing father. One of the biggest sacrifices made by a player! He also pointed out to the fact that he had a hectic international career which needed him to rest and recuperate. Fair enough. Now let’s read the entire text of the letter sent to Mr. Lalit Modi.  “With no disrespect to the IPL, I feel my body and mind needs a break and with the hectic international schedule over the next 18 months, I feel I need to freshen up and a break will do me good. By trying to continue to advance my profile and reputation with the Australian team, I hope to one day become an asset to your tournament. The Australian newspapers have gone overboard in praising Clarke who stood his ground after being caught in the first slip at the Sydney test. He hasn’t rejected IPL totally has he? But yet, one respects his family commitments and his personal ethos to reject IPL as of TODAY…  

One Hyderabadi has been at the forefront of this ‘sacrifice’ business.

VVS Laxman downgraded himself from an “icon” status to a normal citizen status. He went ahead and told the owners of the Deccan Chronicle team that he wanted to buy the best team that money could buy. He didn’t care about what he was paid. Today VVS is paid less than a fourth of what Andrew Symonds gets. He reminds me of Laxman from the great Indian epic ‘Ramayana’, where Laxman threw away his kingdom and went to the forest with Ram. He was the supposed KING but went on to become Ram’s right hand man. Even Hanuman the “monkey” competed with him for Ram’s affection. So what were the modern Laxman’s compulsions? VVS has never been an integral part of the Indian ODI team? He never could make it to an Indian T20 team in his wildest dreams. He chose the next best option (Did he have any another option?). He was named the captain of the team. And paid LESS! MUCH LESS!

So which Hyderabadi is one talking about? It HAS to be Pullela Gopichand. Being an All England Champion in 2001, he won money which isn’t actually even going to get some pocket money for most of these kids. And YET he refused to endorse a soft drink because he thought that no youngster should drink a cola because it’s not ‘healthy’. AND he sacrificed a lot of money for that. To me ‘he’ has been the biggest ‘sacrificer’ that I’ve ever seen. People forget so easily. And not getting the money is easily forgotten than getting that money. So can we please stand up and salute the guy..

Maybe Hyderabad still has some Nawabs left. Hopefully I know at least one. But maybe he doesn’t play cricket …

Posted by Rahul

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13 thoughts on “Right Choice, Baby !

  1. Took a lot of diligent following of the IPL built up 😉

    Just a after thought – Funny as it may seem the bidding took place after the entire ‘Bully Aussies vs Gandhi’s Indians’ series

    Worth taking a look at wht u say and wht u act on (to be read as whom u splurge on) Mr. Pawar and co.

  2. Thanks Nikhil,

    But Mr. Pawar and co. didn’t bid for the players.. I would put the responsibilty more at the owners’ door step. Whether the bullies ‘maintain’ their marketability after a year or so will be an interesting study.

  3. sp,

    I think Rahul’s point is that while he was somewhat of an automatic choice for Hyderabad, his getting more than say Andrew Symonds, would have been inappropriate. (I’d even say it would reek of regionalism because quite frankly he doesnt deserve it in the T20 format.) To that extent , Laxman’s relegation to a player captain (as opposed to icon) is probably as much acceptance as “sacrifice”.

    Cheers

  4. but vvs didnot asked to be names icon player and while it would have been inappropriate (which is debatable) its was not his problem…

    still he decided to relinquish that fat amount (inappropriate or not) for betterment of team and THIS is the sacrifice he made for his team…

    is vvs is not fit for T20 so are i dare say ganguly, dravid, jaffers etc…

    infact i am looking fwd to the day when franchise will see that these “icon” players are becoming the difference between win and loss and how they will deal with that situation…coz we are talking about lot of money at stake…

  5. SP,

    The entire IPL bidding process has been a ‘marketability’ exercise as can be seen from the difference in bid values for various players. Whether RD,SG deserved to be icons and paid 15%more than the next highest paid team mate is a valid question. But they still have the ‘saleable’ brand which VVS doesn’t. (One can look at the number of ads the other icons feature in currently as against VVS). Maybe the other franchisees tried to pressurise their ‘icons’ to give up their status as well, but failed.
    I am just trying to rationalise his decision as a ‘compromise’ rather than a ‘sacrifice’.

    cheers

  6. SP,

    We agree to disagree,

    As I had said earlier, the ‘icon’ players in 2 other teams might become ‘liabilities’ later.. But they might survive for an year or so because they are the face of the team.. I agree fully that a RD /SG might be not credible enough to get the higehst ‘bid’ and that they might ‘fail’ in what they do. Maybe they become the ‘white elephants’ as well in the team.. But today they rule… So I shut up and watch them.. All the best to them..

    cheers

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