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Is everyone in the same league here?

Something doesn’t quite smell like team spirit here: From Mohali, comes a bizarre tale of discrimination within the ranks that might not support their cause. Subhash Rajta reports.

cricket Updated: Apr 23, 2008 02:36 IST
Subhash Rajta

Something doesn’t quite smell like team spirit here: From Mohali, home to a team that has played two games and lost two so far, comes a bizarre tale of discrimination within the ranks that might not help their cause.

According to sources, a bunch of players in the Mohali squad, mostly juniors and not among those picked for the first couple of games, were moved out of the posh Taj hotel and into the less fancy Maya Palace some days ago.

Why? Well, there are two versions. One says it was to save escalating costs in any way possible (which doesn’t make sense given the huge monies spent so far). The second comes from a team official, who said it was only for a day, to accommodate the Mohali-team promoters and guests at the Taj on the day Mohali played Chennai. <b1>

Team manager Sachin Bajaj maintained that all the players were always at the Taj, but the Hindustan Times contacted the Maya Palace and learnt that at least five or six players (who were named to us) have been at the Maya Palace for the last few days. Players confirmed this.

It is believed that after some protests and a rethink on the part of the team management, the other players will be moved back to the Taj, but this part is as yet officially unconfirmed. “We were moved out but I think we’ll be moved back,” a player told HT, refusing to say more for fear of getting into trouble.

Whatever the reason, this ‘discrimination’ isn’t restricted to Mohali alone. In a couple of high-profile teams, the higher profile players have single room while lesser known players have been asked to share. Elsewhere, some players are flying economy while others get business class tickets.

Logically, this is bound to cause resentment at what could be viewed as second-class treatment for some and, in any case, is alien to the concept of “team”.

When a player plays for India, the BCCI treats him the same way — as an India player, irrespective of whether he is a Tendulkar, (who’s been around 20 years) or a rookie Piyush Chawla. He gets the same air-ticket (business class), the same room (a single), the same DA and the same official perks.

When players play for their Ranji team, their state associations treat them the same way. They travel together (unless it’s at their own expense) and invariably share rooms, with only the captain being entitled to single accommodation and often choosing not to take it.

This is the inaugural IPL event and India’s first exposure to a private franchise. It will set a precedent for how things happen in future. Team bonding - generally speaking too, but definitely in units already made up of a hodge-podge of people from different countries, cultures and credos — is going to be vital for a team to succeed. Discrimination of any sort, for any reason, will not help anyone’s cause.