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It’s all a matter of honour

Players understand that runs precede riches, the scorebook is related to the bank passbook with the former being the big brother, writes Amrit Mathur.

cricket Updated: Jan 09, 2008 11:53 IST

The normal response of every aspiring beauty queen when asked about her ambition in life is a stirring announcement of her desire to change the society, of working for the oppressed and the suppressed in the society and to carry forward the legacy of Mother Teresa.

It must be the magic of the moment, the lights, live TV coverage of the glittering event or the presence of celebrity judges that makes all those stunning lovelies echo such lofty sentiments.

When a cricketer, about to hit the top league, is asked about his goal, he too is full of noble thoughts. His response is familiar, practiced and sounds equally phoney. It is an honour, he says seriously, to play for the country. All I want to do is perform for India.

Why is it, one wonders, that people on occasions like these not speak the truth and admit that they are chasing a dream to make it big, and are driven by fame, money and glamour. Why play out this elaborate natak, this unconvincing dialogue?

Given the general cynicism about newcomers repeating this 'correct' (but actually fake) line, it was refreshing to hear Belfast-bound Ranadeb Bose say he enjoyed seeing his photograph in newspapers and wanted to be famous.

Bose is not exactly a hot rock star, nor is he likely to be the next Dhoni, but at least the pony-tailed quickie had the courage and candour to speak his mind.

Which brings us to the larger question: what actually drives a sportsman? Honour and fame? Most certainly. Money and glamour?

Yes, of course. The inner desire to excel, push the limit, prove one is better than others? But obviously.

While money is a big reason, players understand that runs precede riches, the scorebook is related to the bank passbook with the former being the big brother.

That is why the BCCI's cap on endorsements and restrictions on the number of days for shooting commercials are 'administrative wides'. No corporate will contract a non-performing star, and if any player is distracted, the selectors can simply scratch his name from the team list.

Top players often become great due to non-commercial reasons; for them chasing success is a means of satisfying their ego and boosting self-esteem.

Sachin is playing for his reputation not rupees, to him a permanent place in cricket history is more important than additional zeroes in his bank account. The same holds true for Brian Lara. He says he misses the challenge, the thrill of being on centre stage.

Most likely, the participants of beauty contests are throwing up dicey doosras when talking about changing the society. But cricketers declaring their ambition — of playing for honour — is perfectly legal.