India's Problem League rolls on
The anti-Indian Premier League elements in the cricketing world have just been provided more ammunition to fire, with Lalit Modi saying that the 2009 player auction was rigged to benefit Chennai Super Kings. Not that Modi's claims were aired for the first time, but this one has created a bigger buzz than when he first mentioned it. There will be two views to Modi's claims that come in the wake of Sahara India snapping ties with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
One is, why has Modi woken up now when he, as commissioner of the IPL, had a strong platform to protest the so-called sinister manner in which mercurial England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff stayed with Chennai Super Kings, a team owned by then BCCI secretary N Srinivasan. View No 2 is that the controversial administrator could have been under pressure from the BCCI. It must be remembered that the IPL is a sub-committee of the parent body.
Why now? Lalit Modi has woken up now when he, as former commissioner
of the IPL, had a strong platform to protest the ominous manner in
which Andrew Flintoff stayed with CSK in 2009
All the same, everyone involved with the IPL cannot say the tournament is spotless. In fact, there are huge holes that point to non-transparency through special treatment to certain franchises and the issue of secret auction in the event of a tie-breaker for a player. Ravindra Jadeja went to Chennai Super Kings through this process in this year's auction. In 2010, it was West Indies' Kieron Pollard, who was bought by Mumbai Indians and New Zealander Shane Bond by Kolkata Knight Riders.
It's fine to devise a method to decide on which franchise gets the much sought-after player in a tie-break situation, but it is a slap in the face of transparency when the amount is not ultimately revealed. The third extraordinary aspect is that the BCCI earns the extra money paid by the franchise. So next time an IPL supporter tells you that the league is haze-free, you have a good chance of winning the argument.
Whether Jadeja is worth two million dollars and much more is a fair question. He's not even a regular in the India one-day team. Good luck to him and Chennai Super Kings. By the way, his fellow 'secret auction' all-rounder Pollard's IPL record is: Matches 30, Runs 419, Highest 45, Average 19.04. And Bond retired from all forms of the game five months after he was bought by Shah Rukh Khan's Knight Riders.
IPL teams will continue splurging money on players keeping in tune with the name of the game. However, is Indian cricket going to benefit from this money chucking? The IPL's brand value may grow taller, but pundits and even cricketers, who have played in a 'well-paid' era reckon it will affect the hunger of players. I agree with Mark Waugh when he says, "If you get a large sum of money when you are 20 or 21, there is no doubt it will affect your dedication."
Back to administration. The IPL bosses must make it their business to ensure the tournament is governed fairly. It's bad news when Sahara says the Board dished out preferential treatment to teams. Fairness should be the name of the game.
Kerry Packer, the man who changed cricket forever with his World Series Cricket in the late 1970s, was once livid over the fact that the Australian team which he had put together, was being paid less than what their terms spelt out (anecdote courtesy former Australia off-spinner Ashley Mallett).
It didn't satisfy him when he was told that the matter was sorted out with the team. He insisted that they be paid clearly as per contract. The total amount in question was $340,000 and Packer said that not paying the players as per conditions would "break me."
History shows that those who have taken the game for granted have been bitten smack in a place where it hurts. Administrators just need to look around to find examples. Some times, being myopic helps.
Clayton Murzello is MiD DAY's Group Sports Editor