October 2, 2022

The ‘Business’ of Indian Cricket

Lt Gen Prakash Katoch

How India will perform in the balance matches in the World Cup including the next one with Afghanistan on November 3 and later with Scotland anybody’s guess. Will we lose to Afghanistan too? It was a treat to watch how Afghanistan defeated Namibia. After the World Cup we also have New Zealand visiting India to play three T20 and two test matches.

The performance of India in the ongoing ICC T20 World Cup 2021 has been simply atrocious. After the 10 wicket defeat on the hands of Pakistan, there were plenty write ups saying “so what” it is only a game! The authors invariably are the ‘three bags full’ type for whom nothing wrong is happening and nothing can go wrong in present day India.

Some diversion from the loss was available in Mohammed Shami being trolled for being a Muslim. But that was clearly engineered by the ISI which follows a sustained policy and drive for creating ethnic divides in India.

Some diversion from the loss was available in Mohammed Shami being trolled for being a Muslim. But that was clearly engineered by the ISI which follows a sustained policy and drive for creating ethnic divides in India.

No doubt wins and losses are part of any game – cricket or whatever. It was not the loss to Pakistan that mattered but it was the manner in which the game was given away and most importantly the body language of the boys in blue that bode ill – casual, sluggish and totally uncommitted.

But for the ‘nothing can go wrong’ type, the next match with New Zealand more than proved what was amiss in our team in the earlier match with Pakistan. Our boys appeared in a trance as if they were partying late in the night the previous day – or were they? The casualness, sluggishness and gross lack of commitment were on display once again. Rohit would have been out on the first ball but luckily the catch was dropped. Those who did hit the ball appeared doing so in a manner as if they wanted it to be caught; leading to whispers that these matches may have been ‘fixed’. After all we had won both the warm up matches playing against England and Australia.

Afghanistan nearly won their match against Pakistan but for that one over towards the end when Asif went berserk hitting the ball which killed Afghanistan’s chance of winning. Yet, Asghar Afghan, Captain of Afghanistan’s team announced his retirement though he is quite young. In our case, Virat Kohli is stepping down as Captain in the T20 format after the World Cup which was known ‘before’ the World Cup began. But both he and the Head Coach Ravi Shastri cannot be absolved of the miserable performance of the team.

How India will perform in the balance matches in the World Cup including the next one with Afghanistan on November 3 and later with Scotland anybody’s guess. Will we lose to Afghanistan too? It was a treat to watch how Afghanistan defeated Namibia. After the World Cup we also have New Zealand visiting India to play three T20 and two test matches.

If we want to improve the state of affairs, the key is not to talk of ‘past glories’ but concentrate on righting what has gone wrong. Last minute quick fix solutions like placing MS Dhoni as the ‘mentor’ can hardly work in the overall context as Dhoni can only do mentoring. Ravi Shastri no doubt was one of the finest cricket players in his own time but his pot belly, getting photographed with the team with a whisky bottle under his chair and sozzled appearance is hardly inspiring.

The problem appears to be too much money leading to swashbuckling casual attitude, lack of motivation and most importantly lack of practice. Anil Kumble hardly lasted few days as the Coach because he wanted the team to practice hard whereas Kohli and the boys wanted to take it easy being more interested in sightseeing and enjoying life. But luck doesn’t work always without practicing hard.

It is no secret that the BCCI is bursting at the seams with money. This is why politicians and their wards make a beeline to somehow get inside the management. The salary purse for the IPL 2022 auction has been set at Rs. 90 crore per team, an increase from the IPL 2021 auction purse of Rs. 85 crore. The franchisees who won the two new teams for IPL 2022 had bid for Rs. 7,090 crore (Lucknow) and Rs. 5,160 (Ahmedabad). The bids are high because even the team coming last in an IPL season still makes crores of rupees – something little known.

Ravi Shastri is paid Rs 8. crore annually by the BCCI. As for the boys in blue, their annual salary is according to the grade they are in: Rs. 7 crore for ‘A+’ Grade (presently, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah are in this grade), Rs. 5 crore for ‘A’ Grade, Rs. 3 crore for ‘B’ Grade and Rs. 1 crore for ‘C’ Grade. But this is just the annual salary. In addition they are paid for every match they play.

But above is not all. Cricketers are paid for every season of IPL. For example, Kohli who has captained RCB ever since is paid Rs. 18 crore for every IPL season over and above his annual salary of Rs. 7 crore. In addition, is the money that players make through endorsing products and advertisements. Then at times there are gifts by the corporate – vehicles, apartments and the like depending on winning a cup or series.

It is demonstratively clear that every player puts in his best in the IPL for fear that he may not be bid for in the next IPL auction or may be bid for lower price if he does not perform well. This gives rise to the question whether there should be a system of financial penalty during international matches in case of collective failure as witnessed in our two matches with Pakistan and New Zealand given that the casual attitude indicated total loss of commitment?

However, it is demonstratively clear that every player puts in his best in the IPL for fear that he may not be bid for in the next IPL auction or may be bid for lower price if he does not perform well. This gives rise to the question whether there should be a system of financial penalty during international matches in case of collective failure as witnessed in our two matches with Pakistan and New Zealand given that the casual attitude indicated total loss of commitment?

Finally, is the BCCI concerned or as usual it is Chalta Hai?  

The author is a veteran of Indian Army. Views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of https://strategicaffairsindia.in

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