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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Bangla glory is fine, but where’s the money?

When one thinks of the winners’ cheques in games likes tennis and golf, one sees how cricket is stingy in comparison to the rest, writes Sunil Gavaskar.

india Updated: Jun 02, 2007 23:18 IST
Sunil Gavaskar
Sunil Gavaskar

One of the reasons Rahul Dravid is such a great ambassador not just for India but the game of cricket is the way he remembers to thank all those who make a contribution to the game.

At the presentation ceremony in Dhaka after the Test series, he gave the mandatory interview to the TV presenter and then thanked the spectators and sponsors, the Bangladesh Cricket Board officials and groundstaff.

The crowd applauded, even though their team had been beaten in three days and lost the series. The spectators would have been disappointed, especially after the World Cup deeds of the Bangla team had raised expectations that they would give India a good fight and maybe even surprise them.

That didn’t happen simply because India were not the complacent, overconfident team they were in the Cup. India did show they were better, but that is not good enough for Indian fans. India have to win convincingly in England and put up a good show against Australia later in the year.

Dravid’s misfortune is that he gets compared to Sourav Ganguly, who was a much more in-your-face kind of captain. While there is nothing wrong in that in the modern world of cricket, Dravid’s style is a lot more respectful of the opponent and the game’s traditions.

In the irreverent world in which we live, that kind of attitude is not necessarily admirable, but to old-timers, the respect Dravid gets is something with a ‘feel good’ factor to it.

Not for a moment am I suggesting that Dravid is a softie, for no player can score the mountain of runs he has in both forms of the game without being tough.

And just like Adam Gilchrist comes across as a breath of fresh air in an Australian side that gives no quarter, so does Dravid, with his innate charm and adherence to the values of the game.

However, Dravid and his team are entitled to feel let down by the measly prize money on offer for the Tests. Media reports have it that the BCB signed the rights to telecast cricket in Bangladesh for a fee of $51 million for four years. The deal was reached with the understanding that India would tour Bangladesh at least thrice over those years.

Most of the advertising space on telecasts is taken up by Indian sponsors, so most Boards who sell their TV rights do so on the basis of India’s tours to their country.

There are also other commercial opportunities that make the pie much bigger overall. Therefore, when the Indian team tours that country, it is only fair to expect that the home board would have prize money commensurate with the benefits it gets with India’s tour.

An India win is not guaranteed, so even the home team can benefit if they play well and do better than the Indians. That’s why the prize money was a disappointment. The Man of the Test got $ 1,000, the Man of the Series $2,500, the Indian team got $2,500 for winning the series — the same as the Man of the Series.

Tendulkar and Zaheer got $1,500 apiece for being the highest scorer and wicket-taker in the series. Add to that the Man of the Match award Mashrafe Mortaza got for the drawn first Test, and it all comes to a grand total of $10,000 for slogging out in May’s heat and humidity, when really there should be no cricket in our part of the world.

Wonderfully generous, isn’t it? Not that other Boards are any different, they all get maximum on the backs of the players’ appeal and drawing power, and give peanuts back by way of prize money.

Sure, the players get match fees, but even taking that into account, there is plenty left in the kitty to show appreciation to the men who bring those amounts in.

When one thinks of the winners’ cheques in tennis and golf, to name just two other sports that also get the big bucks by virtue of the quality of the players participating, one sees how cricket is stingy in comparison.

The winners’ cheque in football is also a huge one, and though the soccer players earn many times that figure through their individual contracts, it is still good to see that their efforts are recognised with millions in prize money.

Rahul’s squad of 16 (excluding the support staff) got $2,500. You decide if that’s good enough or if the players are horribly underpaid.

First Published: Jun 02, 2007 23:06 IST

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