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Two cheers for BCCI
by Rahul Namjoshi
Mar 05, 2008
One news item (or do we call it a flash?) that stood out amid all the jubilation and cheering for the victorious Indian ODI team was the following - ‘Sharad Pawar has declared a cash bonus of INR 100 million to the victorious Indian team. Inn addition, national selectors of senior cricket team will get INR 10 MM. Selectors of the U-19 cricket team will also get INR 10 MM. In a surprise move, the BCCI has given INR 250 MM to the Sports Ministry for the development of other sports in the country.’

Taking each announcement separately and analyzing the impact of each is what one proposes to do in this piece.

Let’s start with the cash bonus to the CB series winning team. Now everyone has been talking about the IPL and how the easy money there will lure cricketers away from representing their respective countries in tests and ODIs. If we take the ODI team and the support staff at around 20 (leave or take 2), the average prize money per head comes to a cool INR 5 million. Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is not small change even compared to the IPL.

Let’s take Ishaant Sharma as a case in point. Numbers were thrown around citing the amount of money per ball bowled that he would be making in the IPL. In the CB series he has got Rs.13400 roughly, per ball he bowled, excluding the match fees that he received. Not bad, one would be tempted to say. The point here being that at least the Indian players will be motivated to represent their country and do well in the international arena. In no way does it suggest that they are not motivated to do it, without the added monetary rewards. But this evens the field to a certain extent between IPL and international cricket, one would feel.

The cash prize of INR 10 million to the national selectors of the senior Indian cricket team is fantastic news. What we are heading towards after the recent BCCI steps, is a professional selection committee, which is fully responsible for the decisions taken. A result oriented selection process is finally coming close to realistic proportions. What this step may also do is take out the regional bias from the selection process.

The flak generated by the team selected for the CB series was not fair. The captain asked for HIS team and got it. A few stalwarts were dropped as a result. A lot of slogans were raised as a result. A few effigies were burnt as a result. An ODI championship was won as a result. Though to be frank, one was pleasantly surprised at the instant results achieved by the team. It was a start of a team building process where results would take some time to pour in. But even short term failure shouldn’t have undermined the long term vision shown by the wise men. Even Ricky Ponting conceded the fact in his post match comments about inclusion of youth being a telling factor.

The prize money of INR 10 MM to the national selectors of the world cup winning junior Indian team is a bit puzzling to say the least. The doubt here is that on a relative basis, the junior team selectors have got more than the players of the winning team who were given cash prize of INR 1.5 MM each. To an observer it seems ridiculous that the actual performers get less than the people who picked them.

One disclaimer on whatever has been written so far. One is not trying to get into the moralistic argument about cricketers being overpaid, the prevalent poverty in India and the moral questions it raises to all IPL promoters/ BCCI, the BCCI president being the agriculture minister as well. This is purely my view on the BCCI announcements.

But the master stroke from Pawar the politician comes in the 3rd announcement. Paying INR 250MM to the sports ministry for the development of other sports in the country will take the sting out of all the slings and arrows of outraged non-cricketing sports. If one remembers correctly, the Union Budget 2008-2009 provided INR 1.5 billion to the ministry of Youth Affairs and sports. So what the BCCI has done is pay more than 15% of the annual grant received by the sports ministry annually. This is a huge gesture from the BCCI and should be lauded. The BCCI has always been a target for mostly well deserved criticism from various quarters. But if the 250 MM allocation actually fructifies, it should get a pat on its back.

Well, one has tackled all the announcements made by the BCCI but it’s the announcement that wasn’t made (if memory serves one well) which brings forth criticism for the BCCI. What was the performance bonus given to the test team after the England series victory? Mr. Pawar, didn’t you also forget those outstanding men who started the fightback on this Australian tour? After the Sydney test fiasco, with all the controversies swirling around, threats of a pullout, Anil Kumble and his band of men fought against all odds to clinch a historic test win. The 4th Adelaide test was drawn as well. So a series result of 1-2 against Australia was a moral victory for the team, given the extraordinary circumstances of the Sydney cricket match. It would be far easier to throw up their hands and give into a 4-0 drubbing. Perth was the starting point of an amazing Indian recovery which culminated into the CB series win. It is understood that the ODI team was largely different from the test team. But remember the Australian test and ODI teams were more or less the same. Ignoring the sterling work of the test cricketers is unjust and unfair. A Perth test victory was as sweet if not sweeter than the CB series victory for many people. But there’s nothing to show for that fairy tale.

From a puritan’s perspective in a modern Cinderella fairy tale, the two step sisters have fared much better then her.

 
More Views by Rahul Namjoshi
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