Is it all about money, honey?
Parthiv Patel (left), Chris Gayle (second from left), Yuvraj Singh (third from left) and Kevin Pietersen (right)

The Indian Premier League (IPL) has left best of the cricketers poised for choice — Franchise or country? It is often blamed for taking the virtues out of the game and corrupting it. From a distance, it looks like the IPL and the other T20 leagues are only about incessant flushing of the moolah; players getting monstrous pay-checks that create a huge divide between the cash-rich leagues and international cricket. Such is the magnitude of the money involved that some players are better-off playing just these lucrative leagues rather than going through the grind of domestic cricket and eventually Test cricket. If you look at it from those players’ perspective, why shouldn’t they? When the world of cricket is in turmoil over fixing, quality, standards and propriety, why shouldn’t the players just play for money? But then there are some, who are ready to put everything they have on line just for that opportunity to play for their nation. Chinmay Jawalekar and Ankit Banerjee look at both sides of the coin.

 

Non-existent team spirit

 Just imagine a player named Parthiv Patel who has already switched a total of six franchises over the course of eight editions of the IPL. Six franchises in eight editions! Are the morals of team-being even existent or has the passion just quick-fizzled? Now compare a batsman who is considered the God of the circuit, Sachin Tendulkar; who has played for Mumbai Indians right from the start. To get a clearer picture, there was a former Indian player called Narasimha ‘Bobjee’ Rao who played a Ranji final for Hyderabad for almost nothing, passion unplugged. But no one was a rightist or a leftist in this scenario.

 

 

Playing for the love of the game

 

Today viewers get to see more of Chris Gayle at his adopted home-ground M A Chinnaswamy, Bengaluru than at his original home-ground of Kingston or elsewhere in the Caribbean. He undoubtedly is a passionate cricketer. May be while watching him on a TV or from a distance one does not realise that, but he is. There was a time when he was out of the side and at loggerheads with the WICB over trivial issues, just because he wanted to play Test cricket again. Nothing fascinated him ever more than playing for the West Indies. But the love for the game made him revert back to the T20 leagues. His undying spirit was later rewarded as he made it to the team again.

 

Hunger to play for the country

 

Amidst this debate, there’s a certain breed of players, which is willing to put everything on line just to represent the country again. Come to think of Yuvraj Singh; he has been one of the most consistent match-winners the country has ever-produced. But today, he finds himself on the wrong side of the selection committee and management. Age is not a problem and his fitness is good as well, his Ranji performance is a testament of that. The burning desire to play for the country is still there. But shouldn’t he indulge in the big-monied leagues for his bread and butter if he continues to be ignored?

 

Kevin Pietersen is a different kettle of fish and loves the cameras or may be the other way around. Initially he gave up the playing the lucrative leagues to focus on representing the country but after Andrew Strauss blatantly put the curtains down on his England career, he had no other option but head for the St Lucia Zouks in the CPL. Was he wrong by any stretch of imagination?

 Finally it boils down to…

It is not that the article is intended to take sides or give a moral science lectures. But it is about introspecting deep. What the cricket watching purists like are the Test matches. They have witnessed the entire transition and evolution, and are better placed to read the situation. If they believe Tests is the ultimate ‘test’ then they are just not mincing words. It is not wrong to mint money but do not forget what gave you fame, representing your respective nations.

(A cricket geek to the tee, Ankit Banerjee smokes and snorts it all day long. The romance with the sport incepted since the 1996 World Cup semi-final. He is a winner of the 2011 edition of the All-India college cricket quiz.)

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is senior content writer with Criclife. When not following cricket or writing, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed at @CricfreakTweets)