IPL February 17, 2010

Take the money and run

Why all the coyness about the IPL being a cash-farming opportunity like no other?

Swann: wot, no pink Ferrari talk this time? © Getty Images

Like many of the ugly sisters at the IPL ball, Graeme Swann failed to catch the eye of a Prince Charming or even a Chief Executive Charming and remained unpurchased. Many of the English debutantes were rendered even less attractive than usual because they will not be around for much of IPL 2010 due to a prior engagement in Bangladesh. This contractual requirement to play Test cricket is frustrating for the poor dears, as Graeme Swann explained this week:

“…I think if we are going to develop, then in an ideal world, we would be made more available for the IPL…”

Indeed, Graeme. I had been hoping that success in last Friday’s Euro Lottery would have enabled me to develop in all manner of directions. I had intended to develop a taste for expensive cigars, powerful cars and fine wines for a start. A holiday mansion in Tuscany, a string of sordid affairs and a swimming pool in the shape of the Ashes urn were amongst other developments I could foresee.

Like Graeme, I was to be disappointed.

But why this coyness from England’s Twitterer-in-chief about the desirability of making large amounts of cash? Is it in order to spare our feelings? Is it out of solidarity for all those cricketers of generations past who didn’t get the chance to cash in? Pre-Packer, national cricket boards paid their stars a pittance and in return expected unquestioning loyalty and silence.

But no one wants those days back (well, apart from the silence) and no fair-minded person should quibble when talented human beings secure their rewards. So, since we’re all grown-ups, can’t we drop this stuff about the IPL being a great opportunity and a chance to develop? We all know that translates as “a great opportunity to develop a large bank balance”. Far from sparing us the pangs of jealousy, it makes young talented men sound like dissembling politicians.

This stuff is particularly disappointing coming from Swann. During the Stanford “tournament”, when his colleagues were muttering sheepishly about “investments” and “school fees”, should they scoop the Stanford cash, Swann stated that he was intending to purchase a pink Ferrari with his share of the loot.

That’s more like it. Modern cricketers should remember that they are entertainers, not accountants clocking on for their nine to five. Extravagance, copious consumption and possibly diamond-studded pyjamas, are all part of the package. If they are going to be paid like superstars, they need to throw off any lingering distaste they feel about the accrual of lots of noughts on their bank balance. And if they are in any doubt about how to handle the money and the fame, they should puff out their chests, take a long hard look at themselves in the dressing room mirror and ask, what would Elton John do?

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England