should sit out for a couple of years till he is healed completely
and in the meanwhile a therapy on 'how to build team spirit' would
help him immensely.
BANGALORE, FEBRUARY 9: Indian problems require Indian solutions. Indian
cricketers might play three Tests, 10 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and
three first class matches and complain of excessive cricket. But the
Australians, after completing a punishing schedule of six Tests and 15
ODI, and a host of inter-territory games, are actually looking forward
to the series against their neighbours New Zealand.
Similarly, the South Africans, after a tough Test series against
England, the on-going tri-series and their challenging domestic
competition, are going about making wisecracks of touring India and
threatening to beat them.
However, Indian cricketers, far more predictable in their outlook, are
singing an old tune. They complain of ``excessive cricket'' only when
they have to duck out of domestic cricket. They state they are too
fatigued to play domestic cricket, but still scout around for a
lucrative contract with any English county where five months of non-
stop cricket and travel will yield an average ofRs one crore, besides a
luxury car and a comfortable mansion.
The stars expect the Board, selectors, media and fans to be
``understanding'' without realising that it would be an unpardonable
*** to support them in this mindless sabotage of Indian cricket.
For, in the absence of the stars, domestic cricket is something short
of a joke where the fans, sponsors and the Board are repeatedly short-
changed. And in such a diluted domestic competition, the true worth of
emerging players is virtually impossible to assess.
Consequently, the first inkling the selectors and others have of the
limited abilities of the emerging players is when they are thrown into
the hot waters of international cricket. There, in front of a world
audience, the flaws of the emerging players are highlighted
dramatically by television and the entire nation is made to bear the
*** ball by ball, over by over, match after match. Is this what
our egotistical stars want repeated time and again ?
Perhaps, the fault lies withthe Board for having permitted earlier
players to get away with quite as much. The mantra those days used to
be masala matches. One cricketer of the previous generation defended
their playing masala matches at the expense of some first class games
by stating that in masala matches, players did not have to concentrate
and tire themselves. He actually called the masala matches a form of
relaxation and an opportunity where bowlers could try out new
variations and the batsmen innovative strokes!
Biggest irony: However, the biggest irony was in Karnataka where the
Ranji Trophy champions, without the services of some of their stars,
lost miserably to Mumbai recently. For once, a player was given a taste
of his own medicine.
The chairman of the Karnataka Selection Committee, Syed Kirmani, during
his playing days, had on one occasion packed his bags and departed to
the Middle-East to play some masala matches. This after being appointed
Karnataka skipper for theRanji Trophy tie to play on the same dates!
The present cricketers probably took a leaf out of his book and scorned
their team in its hour of need!
This process will continue forever unless the Board takes some serious
steps immediately. In fact, not just Sachin Tendulkar, Javagal Srinath
and Sourav Ganguly, many more like Rahul Dravid, Ajay Jadeja, Mohammed
Azharuddin, Nayan Mongia, et al would have skipped the Challenger
Series if only they had been more successful.
Truly, this contempt for domestic cricket is peculiar only to India.
The stars probably feel it is beneath their dignity to play domestic
So, what's the solution? The best option would be to hit them where it
hurts the most. And that, undoubtedly, is money. Concede to the stars
demand for a gradation of payment. But improvise it to give domestic
cricket a good deal. Impose a staggered, graded payment system whereby
a player would get his full complement of money for Tests and ODIs at
the end of each season only if he plays aminimum 50 per cent of his
commitment of matches in domestic cricket.
Likewise, all endor***t, sponsorship, county contract, media
appearance money should be routed through the Board and payment should
be proportionate to the number of domestic matches played annually.
Those who skip domestic cricket for flimsy reasons should receive only
the base figure for the Tests, ODIs and endor***ts. The rest of the
money should be forfeited and given to the player's favourite charity.
The day the Board gets this system going, there will be a beeline for
Certainly, the time is ripe for some drastic overhauling of the system.
Else, Indian cricket will be condemned to an unending series of
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