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Fans want skills and temperament, not wads of notes to decide the winner
by Sunil Gavaskar
Sep 05, 2010

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When Mahendra Singh Dhoni signed a deal to look after his business interests and endorsements deals with the company formed by his good friends he was being smart. If his friends are genuine pals and not there only to cream him off then, he will be spared some of the pitfalls that can come with those who promise the player the earth and actually stick to it by giving him mud.

 'Mahi' is a clever man, and he has by now seen what the cricketing world can do, not just to the player but to those who are around him as well. What will happen with the deal is that, he will be insulated to a great extent from those who may well cause him stress and distress, when all he needs to do is to simply focus on the game and try and win the World Cup for India. Not for one moment is it being suggested that, the other agencies that vied for his signature are leeches looking to suck his blood and get rich at his expense. Heck even my company was trying to win his signature but realized early enough, that with the Indian skipper, trust is an important factor and after his previous experience he was more likely to go with those whom he knew than those he did not.

That’s exactly what happened. All players have managers or agents to look after their business interests and dealings as well as endorsement opportunities, and what they look for is to be able to build a rapport which will translate into good business for both parties.

The manager or agent should not be intimidated by his clients stature, and has to be confident enough of telling him what is good for him and ensure that he stays away from those who can affect his career. The player also has to be confident that the manager will not do anything that will hurt his image. Therefore every single appearance, every single advertisement, testimonial and endorsement has to be looked at not just from the monetary point of view but how it will reflect on the player. Sachin Tendulkar still does not associate himself with an alcohol or tobacco brand for he is a role model for the youth of this country.

In all the endorsements and testimonials that he has done there is never a situation where Tendulkar has looked silly or incongruous. This is thanks to his agents who ensure that brand Tendulkar always rises above the product and enhances it. Unfortunately, that cannot be said of other players who have sometimes not done themselves any favors by the way they have allowed themselves to be used by the brand.

There was that classic instance of Virender Sehwag who in an advertisement hits a ball into a class room. The street urchin who is playing with him barks “hey Sehwag, go and get the ball". Can you imagine Tendulkar or his managers allowing such an ad where an urchin fires an order at him. Urchins should be deeming it a privilege that a Test international like Sehwag is actually playing with them and not screaming orders to him.

The reason that all this is being written is, because of the happenings in England where a player agent was 'stung' by a newspaper and exposed as one who could predict what was going to happen. Whether he actually influenced and induced the players to do his bidding is what will hopefully be known sooner than later. Of course, when a person does not know that he is being secretly recorded, there is a tendency to boast and show that he or she knows and can do much more than they are capable of.  After all if a transaction is to be done then it makes sense to inflate ones influence even if it is hardly there, so that, more can be extracted from the party wishing to make the deal. It is not just regarding cricketers but also other fields where so many claim to be close to so and so minister or film star or a business head, even when they are not, so that kind of boasting is par for the course simply because the person is not aware that he is being secretly recorded.

Be that as it may, the footage was compelling and if circumstantial evidence is the key then there is hardly any doubt that the no balls were deliberate. The three players under a cloud have withdrawn from the remainder of the tour, and that is only fair to the opposition and the crowd too, for they need to be certain that they are going to play a proper game of cricket where the contest of skills and temperament will decide the winner and not wads of notes.

There seems to lots of sympathy for Mohammad Amir because of his age, but why should that matter? Would the same sympathy be given to another player of a similar age if he had not been such a talent like Amir? Age has nothing to do with it. If a player does not know what is right and what is wrong, then he is mentally challenged and Amir certainly isn’t.

Cricket did not stop when Sir Don Bradman retired, nor did it come to an end when Sir Garfield Sobers called it quits. The game will go on as it always does simply because it is bigger than any individual.  So let’s leave the sympathy aside and if the guys are guilty, then ensure that they never step on the cricket field again and pollute the game we love.

 
More Views by Sunil Gavaskar
  Results have been utterly disappointing for New Zealand
  National duty comes first
  One-day game is alive and well
  Dhoni bears the fury of the media
  Spirit of Cricket
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