Pay more to Test cricketers

If the youngsters' interest to play the longer format has to be fuelled, it will require a revision of the match fees that is paid for a Test match. In the last three years, the one-day specialists have netted more than their colleagues playing only Tests.

The IPL auction attracts a lot of attention as it is an event that gives cricketers across the world an even chance of becoming multi-millionaires overnight. The recently held auction proved to be a windfall for Ravindra Jadeja but that was overshadowed by the withdrawal of Pune Warriors from the auction. The owners might have had enough and more grievances to take the extreme step but they could have refrained from doing so at the last moment.

The saving grace is that both the franchisee and the BCCI have decided to discuss the issues and hopefully they will settle the matter amicably. Nonetheless it has to be said that cricket will have to contend with another dimension along with all other things — the cut and thrust of corporate culture. The recent Sahara-BCCI episode perhaps is an indication that staging an IPL will not be a walk in the park any longer. It was not earlier either but at least the BCCI had fewer hurdles to surmount in its bid to get the IPL going.

The biggest beneficiary of the recent auction, Ravindra Jadeja, will feel that life has come a full circle as he was penalised a few years ago for his overtures but it will be interesting to see the impact the big money has on the young man. A few of his peers have struggled to handle the money, glitz and glamour of the IPL and as such the hushed whispers about the vulgar salaries of the IPL having a detrimental effect on the youngsters are getting louder.

In addition, the consensus that the younger lot is happier to play the shorter formats of the game is gaining momentum as well. I for one think that the players are not to be blamed if they lean towards the shorter formats given the current payment structure of the players.

If the youngsters' interest to play the longer format has to be fuelled, it will require a revision of the match fees that is paid for a Test match. In the last three years, the one-day specialists have netted more than their colleagues playing only Tests. None can ignore the fact that the biggest motivator is money and hence it is more or less a compulsion to attract the focus of the youngsters towards Test cricket by enhancing the fees.

For instance, the fees for a Test match can be equivalent to that of three ODI's which will result in balancing the disparity. Mind you, Test cricket is a hard grind and it is deemed as the real format of the game even if only for public consumption.

The hue and cry after the dismal Test series against Australia has died down but the fact remains that Test cricket is the least favoured by some cricketers for more reasons than one. The ratio of Tests to ODI has been 6:32, 14:29, 12:34 in the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively. The likelihood of the incidence of a high ratio of Tests like it did in 2010 and 2011 is rare. If the match fee of 2010-11 (Rs. 4 lakh for an ODI and Rs. 7 lakh for a Test) is taken as the base, the Test players made 33% of the money that the ODI players made in 2009, 90% in 2010 and 75% in 2011.

Quite obviously, it is rather pragmatic of the players to aim to establish themselves in the shorter formats as the money to be made is more. Besides, the higher frequency of playing days is also another motivating factor. Presumably, the match fees are paid based on the revenue generated by a particular format but I am sure that the profit sharing percentage can be revised to restructure the match fees. In the event it is done, the youngsters will view the prospect of playing Test cricket in a different light. For the likes of Dravid and Laxman the shortfall in their income is compensated as a result of a higher income they get by virtue of being in the top bracket of the central contract.

The recent debacle in Australia has brought to light the fact that certain decisions have to be made in the not too distant future. However, those decisions will and can be made only on the basis of the resources available. While the contention might be that there is a lot of talent waiting to be tapped, the reality is that that notion is far from the truth. It will be a task to name five players (outside of the top 20) in each department who look convincing enough that they are ready for international cricket. I am not being critical either about the cricketers or the administrators but with the current day cricketers having the option of earning mega bucks and fame through their performances in the shorter formats, the need to lure them back to the longer format will be a challenge by itself. Of course, one can say it has come from within but in an era where economics in cricket is the overriding factor, it will take a lot of cajoling and persuasion to make the younger lot embrace the longer format of the game voluntarily.