Protect the interests of the uncapped Indian players

Daniel Christian, an all-rounder from Australia, was an unknown quantity but he figured in the auctioneer's list and was picked up at 900,000 dollars.-AP

Putting up the uncapped players on auction will make it a level playing field for the players as well as the franchisees. In addition, it will also help immensely in preventing the people concerned to look at ways and means of beating the system.

The IPL 5, despite all the doubts that prevailed at the start of it, has emerged a winner in that the attendance at the venues was healthy at all centres and the suspense element regarding the teams qualifying for the knock out phase was retained until the penultimate game of the league stage.

However, the current edition also threw up certain pointers that all that glitters is not gold and there are yet a few areas that need to be rectified to take the popularity of the IPL brand a few notches higher. Of course, the chances of any event or a person being absolutely flawless are minimal but it is all about fine tuning and chiselling off the rough edges in order to make things smoother in the coming years.

The good old ugly head of betting and spot fixing reared its head once again and the irony of it was that the murky side of the business was spoken about by some players who were part of different IPL teams. Though some issues mend themselves when discussed the least, this particular issue needs to be addressed to preserve not only the great image of the game and the brand but to retain the trust of the millions of followers of the game. The BCCI, instead of waiting it out have taken the bull by its horns by initiating an investigation immediately and hopefully the committee conducting the investigation will get to the root of the malady.

It will be impossible to completely weed out the menace but that efforts are taken by the BCCI to cut out the cancerous cells in the system need to be lauded. The other big issue is the excessive payments that some franchisees allegedly pay to players. This is something that will haunt the administrators as the BCCI will be held responsible for the franchisees' sleight of hand. It does not require any effort to whip the players but the embarrassing question that the administrators will be required to answer is whether it is possible for one to tango.

The payment of money in excess of what is agreed upon between the parties in a formal contract is a product of the guidelines formulated during the start of the IPL concept in 2008. Unlike the uncapped foreign players, the Indian counterparts are not put up on the auction list. This obviously opens up avenues for both players and team owners to resort to settling matters in their own way. For instance, Daniel Christian, an all-rounder from Australia was an unknown quantity but he figured in the auctioneer's list and was picked up at 900,000 dollars. The presence of a high number of Australian coaches in the IPL obviously helped in the escalation of the cricketer's value whereas several uncapped Indian players who had done something to get noticed in the earlier editions were left to settle for the prescribed amounts ranging from Rs 10 to Rs. 30 lakhs.

It is fairly obvious that these players were looking at a six to seven digit payment in dollars as against the seven digit payment in Indian rupees. There was a scramble for these players post auction and with supply not matching the demand it was left to the players and franchisees to make deals which were mutually beneficial.

This anomaly will foster some questionable deals even though one cannot necessarily provide enough proof to substantiate the allegations. The inability to provide proof does not mean that there is no substance either to some views expressed on this subject by the players.

The BCCI has tried to ensure that it looks after the players (both past and present) in every manner possible and this is one aspect (the anomaly of uncapped not put up in the auction) that it needs to address sooner rather than later. Several changes have been incorporated in the rules of the IPL since its inception and I am sure that the BCCI President, N. Srinivasan, a player-friendly administrator will protect the interests of the uncapped Indian players. The auction is not the only area that Indians have been short changed as the high number of coaches, support staff, umpires, referees and commentators from abroad will indicate. But for starters, putting up the uncapped players on auction will make it a level playing field for the players as well as the franchisees. In addition, it will also help immensely in preventing the people concerned to look at ways and means of beating the system.

There is no doubt in that the BCCI needs to take some corrective measures but it is ridiculous to blame the apex body or the IPL for the peccadilloes of certain individuals off the field during the course of this IPL. However, the franchisees are the ones responsible for the conduct of their players and as such it is their responsibility to ensure that players of their teams behave in a manner befitting a sportsperson.

At the end of it all, IPL is very much a cricket tournament featuring players of high quality albeit the fact that commerce and entertainment happen to be important components of the package that makes up the IPL what it is — a powerful and enviable brand across the World.