‘I hate Ravinder Jadeja. He’s betrayed Rajasthan Royals’, wrote a Rajasthan Royals fan on my facebook account. ‘Jadeja should be banned for longer’, wrote another. I felt bad for him.
No doubt, he should have been penalised but I think the fine is just a deterrent, not the solution. Jadeja’s story didn’t come as a shock to me but I was surprised that no one else saw it coming.
A lot of players faced a similar situation in the first Indian Premier League (IPL) when they were found negotiating with other franchisees. Back then, they were let off with a stern warning.
Strangely, it was never considered an issue.
But ever wondered why players didn’t take the deal with their franchisees seriously? Well, it wasn’t just plain foolishness. Perhaps, we missed a story there.
Let’s take the case of boxer Vijender Singh.
Apparently, he signed a rather odd contract in which he agreed to share 60% of the money with the agency. It was a long contract with no option to walk out. Mind you, it isn’t just the newbies who’ve succumbed to the pressures. Big guns like Sourav, Zaheer, Laxman, Bhajji too have had their share of unpleasant trysts with legal modalities.
What troubles me is this — ‘Why did Vijender agree to such obscene terms?’
Well, as kids when you go to an academy the only thing you learn are the nuances of the game and not how to find the right agent or how to deal with the media. But the moment you graduate to the next level, you’re exposed to a world of a different kind. There are better bowlers and batsmen to deal with as also agents/managers and IPL scouts if you perform even moderately.
With cricket becoming mercurial in nature, the insecurities loom large on players. And the agents cash in on just that. A rosy picture is painted and a world, hitherto unseen, is promised. Would you then blame these teenagers or 20-somethings for falling for it?
Even the Board officials have aired concern over the priorities of the younger lot. Add to this the danger of success going to a player’s head.
Are the young players equipped to deal with these non-cricketing issues? My answer is a firm no.
These players need professional help. We need a mechanism in place that would reach out to these kids and teach them how to deal with the media, how to choose the agent, how to honour a contract and above all how to set your priorities right.
Such mechanism would not only avoid Jadeja-like cases but also empower players to deal with the over-the-top criticism Jadeja has been subjected to.