"I have been invited with my wife to witness the IPL final on Sunday. I will get a cash award sometime during the match. I have already received my return tickets," says Rajinder Goel, the happiness showing in his voice.
It's easy to understand his delight, as one of the recipients of the BCCI's one-time cash benefit scheme for ex-Test players and select domestic players. All the Haryana left-arm spinner had to show for his record 640 wickets in the Ranji Trophy - the record still stands - before ending his more than two-and-half decade career in 1985 was memories and sheer joy of having lived his passion. As for remuneration, Rs. 150 was all he drew as match fee from his last game. And that wasn't all. He also had to live with the disappointment of having never played for India despite being such a terrific performer in the domestic circuit. With Bishan Singh Bedi around, India could never find a place for other left-arm spinner.
"I had accepted it as my fate long time back, but it did hurt once in a while. This reward has assuaged that feeling to a large extent. Bedi was a great bowler but I sometimes wonder why India couldn't play two left-arm spinners in a few games when they could field two off-spinners in Venkataraghavan and Prasanna," says Goel.
For someone who had seen little money in the game during his playing days, the flush-with-cash modern day game looks surreal. He can't comprehend the players' hunger for more, with many overstepping the line for financial gains.
"Times have changed. Maybe they need more money these days. All I can tell them is they should learn to live within their means, and play the game for the love of it."
Is anyone listening?