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Players get stick, Greg the carrot

The BCCI has acted clever, playing a neat flick to deflect criticism towards the players, writes Amrit Mathur.

cricket Updated: Apr 08, 2007 23:59 IST

After a super-quick autopsy, the BCCI has announced its verdict on the ills of Indian cricket, there is conclusive proof that money has corrupted the players.



The premise behind this discovery is that the players are responsible for defeat and they performed poorly because they earn obscene amounts of money. The solution, therefore, was easy reduce-earnings, improve performance. Thus the decision to cut endorsements and restrictions on how players engage in non-cricket commercial activities.



But things are not so simple, and the connect between paisa and performance is given too much importance. The diagnosis about the ailments of Indian cricket and the treatment adopted by the spin doctors are flawed. Does it really matter if a cricketer does two endorsements or twenty? The only thing that counts is performance, anyone not up to scratch should be benched. The BCCI holds all the cards and if the selectors are tough when it comes to commitment, no player will cross the line.



Still, what the BCCI has done is clever it has played a neat flick to deflect criticism towards the players. Popular sentiment today is anti-player and the BCCI has worked overtime to exploit this hawa to announce steps to control the players. How these play out in the future remains to be seen; players don't have the courage to question restrictions imposed on them but corporate could dispute the validity of the BCCI telling them how to conduct their business.



Of course, some good has emerged from India's shock World Cup defeat. Having ten teams in the Ranji Elite Group is a progressive move, as is the proposal to appoint professional selectors. For both these decisions, India must thank Greg Chappell and Bangladesh. For years everyone had been clamouring for these changes, and they were repeatedly rejected by the Board. But now, with paani sir ke upar, there was no option but to do what is perceived as correct.



There is much talk of holding a mirror and looking hard at the reflection. Has this been done? Just see how Chappell has been treated! His contract has ended but he is now a consultant with the NCA, a lollipop placed in his mouth to prevent him from saying or leaking things we don't want to hear.