Team India’s inability to turn the corner in the ICC Champions Trophy tournament has provoked a variety of reactions but the one that has held my attention the most was the murmurs within the Board of Control for Cricket in India about the fee structure for the players.
”I firmly believe that our cricketers have to be made accountable and the only way to do it is to have a system where payments are based on performance. The better you work, the more you earn. It’s as simple as that. I am going to take this up seriously during the Board’s next meeting. Hopefully, we will have a system in place in which the players get paid according to their performances,” BCCI Vice-President Shashank Manohar was quoted as saying in The Times of india.
The report was headlined ‘Pay cut for cricketers who fail’ and was interpreted by many as a move to reduce the players’ pay. I wondered if a key member of the Board was indulging in populist methods after Team India had not delivered the goods at the ICC Champions Trophy or if the newspaper headline was a little misleading since the words pay cut did not appear in the report itself.
Be that as it may, I have never been one for a system of punishments and penalties but have always advocated the system of rewards. I believe that those who do not perform should be dropped from the squad. There can be no worse price that a player can pay for under-achieving than with his place in the team.
Not too many noticed an attempt by BCCI Secretary Niranjan Shah to clarify the position when he said the match fees for the players was likely to remain the same. “A lot of Board members feel that performance-linked bonus payments should be introduced that will be disbursed among the various players as part of the 13 per cent of the Board’s revenue each year,” he said. “Those who perform well will get more from this share.”
The BCCI is said to be planning the formation of a three-member panel — Chairman of Selectors, Coach and an administrator – to evaluate player performances in every match. Trust the BCCI to increase the workload of the Chairman of Selectors and Coach and at once offer players the chance to wonder who was responsible for some players getting a fatter pay and others not being as fortunate.
If anything, there must be a win bonus for the team as a whole rather than have any incentive for individual performances in what is essentially a team sport. The inherent risk in a system that rewards individual success is that it can lead to selfish rather than selfless performances. You would not want a bunch of players to go out with thoughts of penalties dragging them down further.
In a nation that did not seem as anguished when its communications satellite and the largest rocket both disintegrated in mid-air during a dramatic failure just moments after lifting off in July, national cricketers have to come to terms with being objects of extreme, passionate focus irrespective of whether they win or lose.
As I sign off, here’s a passing thought: Of course, the Board is well within its right to demand accountability from the players. Would it not be lovely if BCCI members apply such standards to themselves and become more accountable? In the year that this bunch of office-bearers has been in place, we have only heard lip service on how the Board would be run more professionally.