No light at the end of this tunnel
There are so many theories and truths and fables about human greed. The most famous is the story of how Eve lured herself into eating that apple which brought forth all the evils and other manly happenings that we have faced and experienced from that day onwards.
At present all these fables and human experiences come in to play with the latest development in World Cricket where it is threatening to put the whole band wagon standing on heads and tiny toes flagging up in the air, just as Kerry Packer did so a few decades ago.
Everything happened just the way it occurred during the spat between Cricket Australia and TV Channel 9 at that time. In almost a repeat broadcast, but in another continent Indian TV pioneers Zee TV ended up with a difference of opinion with BCCI and in retaliation drew up the rebel league by the name of Indian Cricket League which eventually attracted the attention of past cricketers in the calibre of Kapil Dev, West Indian legend Brian Lara, Australian history maker Shane Warne and Sri Lanka’s creator of Muppets and other Jokers Marvan Atapattu.
The difference between the two developments was that channel 9 created the pyjama cricket monster and the ICL and the IPL are popularising the techniqueless shorter version of Twenty20 cricket. Like Eve’s initial mistake both forms of the game spells only doom for established game of Test cricket.
As ICL was gathering the momentum, the Indian Cricket authorities tried to douse the issue by bringing in many objections and curtailments, but, nothing was effective as their last straw mimic – The Indian Premier League.
First the players thought the ICL money was God sent gift to the cricket kind, but, with the BCCI putting out more legitimate league with better packages more and more cricketers began to look over their shoulders towards India in anticipation.
On ICL part players braved bans for the sake of hard cash and sacrificed their futures (especially in the Indian sub-continent) for a fist full of dollars while the more established players in the calibre of Mahela Jayawardena, Jacques Kallis, Kumar Sangakkara and Adam Gilchrist signed on with the IPL for a few dollars more.
Following are some of the deals that these cricketers have sealed up with the IPL.(All in US$). Australia Justin Langer 175,000, Sri Lanka Farveez Maharoof: 150,000, Kumar Sangakkara: 250,000, Mahela Jayawardene: 250,000, Muttiah Muralitharan: 250,000, Sanath Jayasuriya: 250,000, Nuwan Zoysa: 100,000, Dilhara Fernando: 150,000, Chaminda Vaas: 175,000, Lasith Malinga: 200,000. Pakistan Mohammad Asif 225,000, Shahid Afridi: 225,000, Shoaib Akhtar: 225,000, Younus Khan: 225,000. West Indies Shivnarine Chanderpaul 175,000. New Zealand: Daniel Vettori 225,000, Jacob Oram 200,000, Scott Styris 150,000, Brendon McCullum 175,000. South Africa Loots Bosman 150,000, A. B. de Villiers 175,000, Albie Morkel 200,000, Graeme Smith 225,000, Herschelle Gibbs 225,000, Shaun Pollock 200,000, Ashwell Prince 150,000, Makhaya Ntini 175,000, Mark Boucher 175,000, Jacques Kallis 200,000.
At the same time the gamut is working in different ways. Now especially the Pakistani players are finding refuge with the ICL the moment they fall foul with the Pakistani cricket authorities. The latest is that eight current and fringe Pakistani cricketers have decoded to throw in their lot with the ICL.
According to an AFP news item –“ Eight Pakistani players, including fast bowlers Mohammad Sami and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, have signed up to play in the unofficial Indian Cricket League (ICL).
All eight players have represented Pakistan at the international level. Sami, Naved-ul-Hasan, Mushtaq Ahmed, Humayun Farhat, Shahid Nazir, Hasan Raza, Imran Nazir and Riaz Afridi will now join six other Pakistan players who are already part of the league.
Meanwhile the Pakistan board, showed no sign of softening their stance towards players moving to the league. "Our domestic teams and players are like a family for us and we have worked for their welfare and betterment," said Zakir Khan, director operations PCB.
Sami is the most high-profile signing, having played for Pakistan as recently as December last year, in the third Test against India in Bangalore. Humayun, who kept wicket in one Test and five ODIs, joins his brother Imran, while Raza, who, in 1996 became the youngest Test cricketer at 14 years and 227 days, last played for Pakistan in 2005. Shahid Nazir, a promising fast bowler when he burst onto the scene in 1996, has also been in and out of the side over the last decade.
The youngest of the lot is fast bowler Riaz Afridi, an Under-19 World Cup winner in 2004, who has one Test under his belt. Imran Nazir, a batsman touted as the next big thing after a scintillating hundred in Barbados in 2000, made a comeback last year to the team, but played his last one-dayer against India in November and was overlooked for a central contract by the Pakistan board.”
That is one side of the coin. The other side of the coin is much more interesting. Right at present there is a certain conception if the aging players of various nations are willingly throwing the towel in with retirement while they could well go on for another couple of years. This way they could rejuvenate their careers and launch a fresh for a second coming. Glaring example is the Australian wicket keeper Adam Gilchrist. The whole world knows that he is still a better bet and a better bat for Australia than Brad Haddin, but he threw his towel in and opted to go with the IPL. How many more will follow his cue?
We also read that World’s two cricketing giants India and Australia are seeking ways to have a window in the future tours programme so that IPL programme which is not run by the ICC could be properly accommodated and avoid a situation where certain cricketers will have misgivings that they missed big Indian bucks while playing for their own country.
Even the Australian incumbent skipper Rickey Ponting who is also a prospective ICL recruit has shown his concern about the latest development. The Australian skipper admitted last week that he was concerned that the controversial Twenty20 Indian Premier League could pose a threat to world cricket by luring international players. Some even claim that the Asia cup tournament was also put back to accommodate the IPL.
I feel the worst thing that happened recently to the established game of Test cricket is India winning the Twenty20 World Cup. This gave the corporate World the idea to exploit the situation with their powerful dollars and please the unsuspecting billion population of cricket fans in India.
PS: Isn’t it that not very long ago these very same cricketers were complaining about too much cricket and player burnout that would follow?