The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Assurance for full-strength NZ needed

The standoff between New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and the New Zealand Cricket Players’ Association couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time for the recently formed Indian Cricket Players’ Association. With New Zealand’s elite cricketers on strike from October 1 for a greater share of the pie, there will be many an old hand in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) who will cite this example as a reason to delay, if not deny recognition of the Indian players’ body.

Ever since big money came into the game, thanks to TV rights and sharing of the World Cup revenues, the all players have woken up to the fact that while the funds are generated on their ability to play the game, they are not receiving an adequate share of it.

Profits for the boards have gone up dramatically, yet the players have not received the same proportion of increase — neither in Tests nor one-day Internationals. The cricketers’ bodies in Australia, England and New Zealand do take into consideration the first-class cricketer in their countries when entering into any discussions with their boards.

In India, the first-class cricketer is the poor third cousin of the Test and international cricketers, probably forgotten by those who have graduated to the international level. This could be explained partly by the fact that the schedule is tight that the international players do not play first-class cricket and so are unaware of the needs of his first-class cousin.

It’s a pity that even if he is not up to date, he has forgotten the very player with whom he has played first before graduating to play for India. The key to the success of the new body is how it is going to tackle the development of first-class cricket and the welfare of those who play in it. It is extremely important for the board to look after the grassroots, for with job opportunities diminishing for the first-class players and the season being a lengthy one, they must have the incentive to carry on knowing that only a dozen or so eventually make it to the international league.

The Australian cricketers’ body has agreed with the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) that it would get 25 per cent of every dollar that the board earns. To this, BCCI president has announced that the Indian board will give one per cent more to the Indian players. That is fine, but who exactly are these Indian players' If it’s only the Test and one-day players then he will have satisfied a dozen or so but left the other hundreds of junior and first-class players with nothing. The thing to remember about the Australian and New Zealand player bodies is that they are working for all the players and not a privileged few.

To be sure, the number of players in Australia and New Zealand is much lesser than in England or India since there are only six or eight first-class teams Down Under. So the first-class player will also get a sizeable share of the percentage.

More than the percentage share that is being offered, it might be more helpful to know where the money is going. If the players are asking for 25 per cent, then there has to be an equal if not a higher share for development of the infrastructure and the game itself.

Some of the money has to be kept aside for administration and this is where the other bodies seem to have their grouse for they think that more is spent on administrative salaries and travel than is necessary for the game.

In India of course, everybody is an honorary official excepting the recent Talent Resources Development Officers (TRDOs). Still, the expenses for meetings can run into lakhs, if not crores.

The Australian selectors choose the team via teleconferencing which must be a fraction of the cost than being together for a meeting that might last 15 minutes. When you read that there are no changes in the Indian team for the next Test, it makes you wonder if the selectors needed to be present at the Test for all five days if the eventual result of the meeting was an unchanged team.

Be that as it may, the developments in New Zealand will be keenly followed, for if the strike goes on and the top players are unavailable, then India might perhaps play a team of juveniles or geriatrics.

What an irony this is! Remember when the contracts issue cropped up just before the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka and there was a real possibility of the top Indian players not participating, it was the New Zealand representative at the ICC who proposed and got passed a resolution banning future contests with India if the full team doesn’t play in the Champions Trophy.

Today the boot is on the other foot and it won’t be a surprise if Mr Dalmiya now gets up and says that if the full New Zealand team is not going to be available to play the Indians, the tour will be called off.

Dalmiya has every excuse to say the first stone was cast by New Zealand with the proposal and passing of the above mentioned resolution in Colombo and the days of turning the other cheek as advocated by the Father of the Nation have long gone.

How else does one explain a country that won its independence by non-violence being so full of violence fifty-five years later'

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