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Money makes the mare go

A view is gaining ground that in cricket, cash calls the shots and money rules, writes Amrit Mathur.

india Updated: Mar 10, 2006 19:31 IST

Two decades ago, when Mehmood sang sabse bada rupaiya, people thought it to be a peppy item number. But now, as money impacts us profoundly, it seems the ace comedian made a telling comment about social behaviour. Also, a view is gaining ground that, in cricket, cash calls the shots, and money rules.

Coach Greg Chappell talking about Ganguly, said the Indian captain was driven more by money than his mind or the needs of the team. According to him (someone in India for gainful employment) Sourav's decline was for all to see but the blinded captain only saw cash, nothing else.

This is a harsh and unfair assessment but the plight of Bjorn Borg, a bigger champi on, is really sad. Borg won a lot on the court, most of which he lost out of it. Con fronted with debtors and disgrace, and forced into a corner, the only escape for him was to put his trophies on sale, convert them into cash. With these symbols of triumph gone, Borg will be left just with honour, something that can't be exchanged for dollars.

The Indian cricket team, if press reports emanating from Nagpur are correct, is trading some of that too. Apparently, a dirty row erupted there over laundry bills, a silly controversy that Indian cricket and cricketers can do without.

Not that the cricket world is unused to cash-related upheavals. The BCCI is a moneycreating machine, the mega deals it concludes giving it incredible commercial clout. But problem is these money steroids are accompanied by harmful side effects; there is already some tension between the new rights-holders and the networks.

In other countries, the issue most times concerns wages. Kenyan players struck work amid widespread allegations of financial misappropriation in their Board. Zimbabwe was worse - officials were detained, players arrested (for failing to return sponsored cars) and Taibu, the youngest ever captain in Test history, was forced to quit the game at the age of 22!

In major cricket playing nations such battles over cash are fought in a more civilized manner. The West Indies go through enormous turbulence on this score, their players bowl more bouncers at themselves and their officials than the opposition. Player withdrawal before a series is routine and top stars often revolt when offered unfair terms.

Australia and England man age to keep a tight lid on spats through an effective conflict resolution mechanism but NZ players have taken the militant route to settle their grievances.

In India and Pakistan these disputes tend to simmer under the surface. This because in the sub-continent officials are true tigers, and the players hopelessly disunited. Cricketers are pop idols; officials enjoy better life expectancy.

Players know its impossible to take on the establishment and win; the only time Indian players saw the Board straight in the eye without flinching was over the World Cup contract issue. But with stakes rising crazily, and lakhs converting into crores, there could be tension over batwara in the future.

First Published: Mar 10, 2006 16:11 IST