They have a right to feel aggrieved

Andy Roddick with the U. S. Open Trophy. Even a first round loser at the U. S. Open gets more money than a player of the team which wins the Asia Cup in cricket, says the author. — Pic. AL BELLO/GETTY IMAGES-

IT should come as no surprise if in the not too distant future cricketers insist on more prize money to be given to them.

IT should come as no surprise if in the not too distant future cricketers insist on more prize money to be given to them. The recent Asia Cup had a total of $(U.S)1,80,000 as prize money plus a car for the Man of the Tournament. Now that it is not even one per cent of the amount the TV rights were sold for and if one takes into account the other sponsorship packages that were sold it all adds to a couple of more million dollars.

All this was sold on the backs of the players who were participating in the tournament and provided nine days of cricket. Admittedly, there were some matches in the tournament which had less interest than the others but they were all part of the package for which telecast and sponsorship rights were sold. The players would of course get their fees from their respective Boards though one does not know if the UAE and Hong Kong players got paid anything to play. The participating countries also would have got a fee for sending their best available teams to the tournament. Still when one reads that the winning team would get $ 60,000 and the runners-up $ 40,000 and then compare it to the winners of the tennis and golf majors makes one wonder whether the cricketers are being short charged by the authorities. So a first round loser at the U. S. Open tennis gets more money then a player of the winning team in the Asia Cup as prize money is shared between the members of the winning squad.

Prize money

At least at the Asia Cup the prize money is more than what was on offer at the Pakistan-India Test and One- Day series. There for a tour of 20 days of cricket or maybe 18 days since two Tests finished in four days, the prize money to the teams was less than $ 1,00,000. Now when the PCB announces that it has made more than 21 million dollars and then you look at the prize money which includes series winner and man of the series winner then no wonder the players are feeling aggrieved. The quality of cricket in that series was one to rejoice about for it provided not only pulsating cricket but splendid entertainment too. Yes there were expenses too for the Boards but whatever is said and done unless the prize money becomes a good percentage of the various rights that a Board earns from there will be a player revolt sooner than later.

In our part of the world there is fortunately not the kind of expenses on administration that is there in others where everybody from the Board CEO to the gatekeeper is a paid person and even there with the advent of information technology a lot of posts will be rendered superfluous if they aren't so already though having said that the old boy network does work in obtaining positions that are either specially created or are totally unnecessary.

Administrators all over the world are realising the need to involve those playing the game in decisions that will affect them. So the ICC Cricket Committee now has five out of its 13 man committee nominated by the Test captains and while there is understandable reluctance to involve the current players in day to day administration the wise administrator will always go to the current players and have a pow wow with them about the game and how it is progressing. It is easy to spot the thinkers among the current breed, those who want the game to develop and not just their run aggregates or wicket hauls and it is these players and not just the skippers that the smart administrator should go to get a feel of what the player of today thinks about the game he is playing and how it can be improved not just for the participants but also for the spectators.

Future

Today's player is quite naturally concerned about his future after the game and is aware that the foundation he builds while he is still playing is what is going to stand him in good stead after he finishes playing. There are avenues in the game itself for a good player to take up after his playing days are over and thus keep his connection with the game alive. That's why the contract system is a good way for the Boards to keep his mind at ease. This way the player knows that if he suffers an injury playing the game and is rendered out of action for sometime he will not lose out in the financial aspect. After all he was injured trying his best for the country's team and so deserves to be looked after by his Board.

It is far better for the administrator to keep in touch with the current player even as he picks the brains of the former players on how to develop the game. The current players will probably offer views that will only benefit the current squad but these will be without any hang ups. On the other hand there is the real concern that a former player may have an axe to grind when he is asked to administer the game. Very few former players have been successful day to day administrators. Yes they are very effective in committees and can really help with the experience of playing the game at the highest level but this is mainly on the technical side. Of course they make good coaches because it is easy to impart the knowledge they have gained with years of practical experience out in the middle. There are exceptions of course and there have been and there are currently some fine players turned administrators.

It is up to these administrators to look at the players' concerns and ensure that there is no heart burning among the players. It is the today and tomorrow that matter not what happened yesterday. Only an administrator with that outlook will have the pulse of what the game needs and will add to the development of the game we love so much.