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|February 26, 2000||
Storm the Bastille!Sujata Prakash
I've been receiving some very interesting feedback on my last article 'Perform and be paid.'
One reader wrote it's a bad idea because 'these Johnnies get paid enough.' Another mentioned that rather than give a bonus for a good performance, their fees should be cut according to performance. Which would mean, seeing how things are, certain players getting just enough money for the bus fare back home. While many of us would agree that this extreme step is justified, especially after having witnessed another witless display on the field yet again against South Africa, I think psychologists might have something to say on that. If a player is already feeling like a loser, you don't finish him off completely by snatching away the last vestige of his manhood.
The best bet would be to pay the players less than what they now get for a match, say about half. Then structure it so that for every win, you pay them treble that basic rate. Plus, have performance related pay for individuals as well. A century gets you half of match fees extra. A fifty gets you a quarter, and for every ten runs after 50, add-on accordingly. If 30 runs are needed to win and the last two batsmen get them, give them 20% of the match fees. They deserve it. Similarly, work out something for the bowling and fielding.
The above is just an exercise in thinking out loud. However, it makes sound sense to pay the players a moderate base pay and handsome bonuses to make them work for the carrot rather than giving it to them on a plate. Also, it would be quite interesting to see by season's end how much each player has earned, taking into account the number of matches played by him - it would perhaps be the best index you could hope for, about individual form and performance. While not completely infallible, it could be one way of ranking the players meritoriously.
Right now there is a stalemate of sorts. We all seem to be speaking to unresponsive walls. The BCCI is giving us all a very good idea of just how necessary it is to have at least a diploma in management before attempting to run a large organization. Someone suggested very wisely that the reigns of the cricket board should be given over to a Tata or an Ambani. My own feeling is, the Japanese should be roped in. If, being such a tiny country, they can give the Americans a run for their money in baseball, then imagine what they could do in the world's largest cricket pool. The only problem might lie in getting them sufficiently interested in the game to understand it. Jokes aside, it is time we all sat up and took notice of the bungling going on by people who claim to be honorary and dedicated workers. It's better to pay good salaries and have a management outfit that's accountable and successful.
I empathized with Rajeev Srinivasan's passionate plea to boycott the products endorsed by the players, as one of the ways to stop them from taking our support for granted. However, I personally feel that the problem is more of monopoly as he stated. The TINA factor overrides all others. No other sport can take cricket's place for the majority, and unfortunately there can be no other team but the one chosen by the BCCI. A free market thrives only with competition. Utopian thinking no doubt, but what if one of these big outfits, instead of paying millions to one or more players for endorsement, spent that money on training and developing a world-beating team? What if they hand picked motivated, talented and dedicated boys -- and there are many who are languishing because of lack of connections or apathy from the system -- and groomed them?
Then, like that brave capitalist Kerry Packer once tried, let this band of renegades play unofficial matches with a zest and flair missing from the national side. The public won't complain, and like the ACB with Packer, the BCCI too would be forced out of its stupor to take notice of audience preferences.
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