This isn’t the first time the nexus between cricket and money has been exposed, and this won’t be the last. The era in which the game was played solely for the love of the sport is long gone. But an average first-class cricketer today stands to earn equal or more money than any well-placed working professional. So, why resort to deceit when one can make money playing clean? Moral debates though are personal. But the larger questions such an expose raise often get disregarded behind the sensation it creates. Like the issue of black-money transactions.
Ravindra Jadeja and Manish Pandey were suspended for one season and four matches respectively for negotiating better deals with another franchise while a salary cap existed. Obviously they were not negotiating with a rock, but a real customer. Then, why did that party go scot-free? Allowing rich franchises to arm-twist rules will encourage such practices. They must be penalised equally. While Indian domestic players are subject to the salary cap, foreign domestic players, like Dan Christian and Mitch Marsh, rake in the moolah. Then there has been the problem of unregistered agents. Before the advent of the IPL, there were only a handful of them as there was very little talent to manage. But the proliferation of talent has resulted in many dubious agents coming to the fore.
A young player in Rajasthan was promised Rs. 1 crore a year as guarantee if that agent was allowed to manage his career. Since he shared the information with me, I thought of doing checks. This agent was a new player and had no track-record of managing sporting talent. Since the money he offered was not in sync with the market value of a rookie, I advised caution.
It won’t take rocket science to realise this agent’s sports management business could only be a front for his murky dealings. As a deterrent, the BCCI must ensure every player-agent is registered with it.
While the sting operation showed five cricketers shaking hands with dealers, it also showed three cricketers refuse the offer. The same was the case when three Pak players were caught for spot-fixing. Only three out of a squad of 15 were involved in unlawful activities.
After the first edition, the governing council announced it would introduce a programme for nurturing cricketers, which included lessons on how to handle money, media, fame etc. Five years down the line, that promise is yet to be fulfilled.
The writer is contracted to RR