Cricket Australia (CA) has lashed out at its international players for negotiating with the franchises of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to maximize their marketing value, the Australian media reported Sunday.
The Sunday Age quoted CA's chief executive James Sutherland as saying Australia's senior cricketers have forgotten their manners in the rush to grab a few bars of Indian gold.
Judging from the contents of Sutherland's unequivocal letter, the players also have ignored legal niceties, contractual obligations and their responsibilities as employees.
According to CA's chief executive, the players have been negotiating big fees to play for Twenty20 franchises on the subcontinent next year without bothering to inform their employers, let alone seek their permission. In short, the players want the best of both worlds, secure contracts and absolute freedom. It does not work that way, The Sunday Age said.
In the past, the appropriate response to any dispute between sportsmen and officials was to support the blokes wearing the sandshoes. But times have changed, it observed.
Players no longer catch a tram to the MCG or cadge a lift to the SCG. They do not play for a few years and then go off to work for a brewery. Nowadays, they have share portfolios, tables at sumptuous restaurants, books on the shelves, shows about wine, chart-topping releases, computer games on sale and dress not in blue singlets but in ersatz suits, said the daily.
Sutherland said that CA is not hostile towards the Twenty20 competition arranged by their counterparts in India. Indeed, the tournament has been sanctioned by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Not that the authorities had much choice. Tony Greig and chums had forced the issue by starting an independent league. And India has fallen in love with Twenty20 after the national team triumphed in its first World Championship.
Accordingly, the Indian cricket board was bound to set up its own comp. Inevitably, it had to offer the combination of bright lights, music, dancing, money, star attractions and constant excitement that tickles the local palate and the Indian Premier League was the result.
Franchises were granted to local teams and top players were invited to take part. Cost was not a consideration. Cricket thrives because it is played in India, a nation devoted to the game and blessed with a billion people.
Unsurprisingly, the franchises were eager to sign cricketers from the strongest side in the world. The IPL will take place in the hot summer months, so the Australians had no official commitments.
But the players had forgotten one thing. They are not free agents, Sutherland says.