The Indian team’s tremendous win in the Test series as well as the One-Day series is truly historic as it became only the second team to do so in Australia. Of course, while teams have been touring Australia for well over 100 years, the One-Day series started only in the late 1970s. So, it is a remarkable achievement indeed. Virat Kohli’s boys have written a golden chapter in the history of Indian cricket with some diamond-encrusted performances with both bat and ball.
An Indian international cricketer is well paid today and is possibly the best paid cricketer in the world. This is not taking into account the Indian Premier League fees that he gets. Therefore, it does not make much of a difference to him if there is no prize money on offer or if it is just peanuts, as the Cricket Australia prize money was, for the Test and One-Day series. To give 500 Australian dollars as prize money, which, by the way, did not go to the player but to a charity, was ridiculous, to say the least. First and foremost, was proper permission taken from the winner to donate the prize money to the charity chosen by Cricket Australia or was it a unilateral call taken by Cricket Australia? If giving the money to charity was the sole aim, rather than recognising the team and the players’ performances, then why the charade of giving it to the team and players in a public manner? Just give it without trying to show the world that you are doing it publicly.
While every dollar counts for a cash-rich board, which recently signed lucrative deals with new broadcasters, the amount of prize money totalled up for all the matches comes to such a minuscule percentage of the broadcasting and media rights sold that it’s actually insulting to the team and the player. It’s perfectly alright if the home board does not want to give any prize money, but to give the pittance they did just adds to the insult.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India has been quite generous, especially with the prize money that it awards to the winners of the Ranji Trophy for the national championship. This is how it should be where the board recognises its national championship. That the Ranji and first-class players’ remuneration for the match and season should be increased is another matter, but the BCCI is seized of it and hopefully when the 2019-20 season starts, the first-class cricketer will no longer feel like the poor cousin of the IPL cricketer.
Cricket Australia has taken some terrific steps with the co-captain issue where seven-year-old Archie Schiller, who has had multiple heart surgeries, was made part of the Australian dressing room and there’s no doubt that the cricket board recognises its duty towards the less fortunate in society, but by giving token amounts of prize money it did not send the right message.
At the tennis and golf majors, even first-round losers make multiple times more money, so the winners in cricket should have also got a substantial amount. And then the decision to give it to a charity of choice — be it anywhere in the world and not just Australia — should have been left to the winner.
The other issue that is baffling in Australian sport is why Bernard Tomic gets away with comments such as those he made about Lleyton Hewitt after losing in the first round of the year’s first major, the Australian Open. All that he has achieved in his career is to bring a bad name to the sport that has made him what he is. With, maybe, the odd appearance in the last 16 and that too many moons ago, he has achieved nothing but notoriety in the game. His virulent attack on Hewitt, who has not only won two majors but also been part of the Australian Davis Cup-winning teams, just shows that he has weird ideas about his own achievements in the game. It is when such players are tolerated that it encourages others to do the same and then the whole beauty of the sport goes for a tumble. Indiscipline, if allowed to go unpunished, only becomes contagious and more think that it is the norm. So the authorities need to be very vigilant and nip it in the bud as soon as there’s even a little show of it.
Having said that, in today’s world it actually is more rewarding being infamous than famous as can be seen by the many transgressors who are flourishing despite their wrongdoings. That sadly seems to be the way in the world today.
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