Is money the root of all evil, or is it the oxygen desperately needed to run cricket? Clearly, money is required to build infrastructure and create facilities.
Cash plays a key role in ensuring players enjoy a decent lifestyle, which attracts talent, and we don’t want a repeat of the hockey tragedy where kids refuse to pick up a stick because it’s not worth the effort.
Judged on the yardstick of generating money and creating wealth the BCCI has done extremely well.
Their annual profit exceeds the Indian government’s sports budget.
But there is a flip side. The BCCI is seen as a cash-obsessed body. Players are also perceived as getting distracted by commerce and not focussing on cricket. Whether true or misguided, this is a popular perception and each defeat is explained in non-cricket terms. If a batsman loses off stump, or a fielder misses a catch, it is linked to the shoot he did the previous year.
Sachin Tendulkar, who makes more money and more records than anyone else, has repeatedly said money is incidental. His currency is runs and as long as the scorebook shows good results the bank passbook will automatically look healthy.
Younis Khan put things in perspective recently, dedicating the Twenty20 win to former coach Bob Woolmer (forgotten by all including the West Indian police) and to Pakistan (mulk ko iski zaroorat thi). Younis then quit Twenty20 because, at 32, he is too old for this kind of cricket. Asked about the win Younis said he hoped people will now remember him forever, like Imran Khan.
Players play for records and stats but in the end there is something more that motivates them.
Roger Federer is searching for a 15th Grand Slam, Tiger Woods is chasing Jack Nicklaus, Sachin is probably eying the 2011 World Cup and hundred international centuries.
But what pushes the champions is certainly not money. Respect and pride count for much more.