February 21, 2010

Indian Premier League

Jadeja case an eye-opener

Aakash Chopra


A lot of players faced a similar situation (like Jadeja's) in the first edition of the IPL when they were found negotiating with other franchisees despite already signing an MOU with one © Associated Press
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‘I hate Ravindra Jadeja. He’s betrayed Rajasthan Royals’, wrote a Rajasthan Royals fan on my Facebook page. ‘Jadeja should be banned for longer’, wrote another on Twitter. I felt bad for him. He reminded me of classic western tragedies and a fallen hero, doomed to a life of retribution, for he fell for the lure. No doubt, he should have been penalized. Yet, I consider the fine just a deterrent, not the solution. Jadeja’s story didn’t come as a shock, for I had seen it all coming and was surprised that no one else did.

A lot of players faced a similar situation in the first edition of the IPL when they were found negotiating with other franchisees despite already signing an MOU with one. Back then, they were let off with a stern warning. Ironically enough, it was never considered an issue, but an aberration.

But ever wondered why players didn’t take the MOU seriously? Well, it wasn’t just plain foolishness. Perhaps, we missed a story there.

The contract stand-off between agents and players has continued to be an eye sore for both the parties for ever now. The latest case in point being boxer Vijender Singh. Apparently, he signed a rather odd contract in which he agreed to share 60% of the revenue generated with the agency. It was a long contract with no option to walk out. And it isn’t just the newbies who’ve succumbed to the pressures. Big guns like Sourav Ganguly, Zaheer Khan, VVS Laxman, Harbhajan Singh too have had their share of unpleasant trysts with legal modalities.

What troubles me is this – why did Vijender agree to such obscene terms?

Well, as kids when you go to an academy the only thing you learn are the nuances of the game. You ask your seniors and coach how to play a certain shot or bowl a certain ball. You never ask them how to find the right agent and how to deal with the media. Neither do the seniors offer you such an advice. But the moment you graduate to the next level you’re suddenly exposed to a world of a different kind. Not only do you face better bowlers and batsmen but also different kinds of pressure from all quarters.

If you perform, even moderately enough, an agent/manager and nowadays the IPL scouts approach you with an unimaginable booty in hand. With cricket fast becoming mercurial in nature, the insecurities loom large on its players. And the agents cash in on just that. A rosy picture is painted and a world, hitherto unseen, is promised to these kids. Would you then blame these teenagers or 20-somethings for falling for it?

But, it’s not only the contracts where players find themselves on a sticky ground. A certain sense of high headedness amongst cricketers has also been a constant media grouse. Even the officials within the board have aired their concern with regards to the priorities of the younger lot. Add to this the danger of success going to a players head and one has a lot of issues to deal with. But are the young players equipped to deal with these non-cricketing issues? My answer is a firm ‘no’.

With the average age of a player making some quick bucks coming down considerably, there’s certainly a need to address these issues. These players need professional help on various quarters. We need a mechanism in place which would reach out to these kids and teach them how to deal with the media, how to choose the agent judiciously, how to honor a contract and its repercussions and above all how to set your priorities right with regards to playing for the country. It may sound a lot of work but England Cricket Board does it efficiently every year. They have a drug menace to deal with and hence to educate their cricketers, they’ve formed a committee which visits every county and speaks to every first-class cricketer. We need something similar keeping our issues in mind. Such mechanism would not only avoid Jadeja-like cases to occur but also will empower players to deal with the over-the-top criticism Jadeja has been subjected to.

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Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by Naveen Fernandes on (March 1, 2010, 6:58 GMT)

I find the comment from Shyam Joshi very interesting - Why isnt the franchise negotiating with Jadeja penalised? There is something funny in the IPL, if the franchices are negotiating with a contracted player. Dont they have a lawyer who checks a players contract before starting negotiation? Makes you think of the Pakistani players issue. Which franchises asked for them, and why there was no bid at all? Is it all a stage show managed by IPL managing committee?

Posted by deepak gupta on (February 25, 2010, 9:29 GMT)

I think IPL is a professional tournament and barganing from jadeja is not a bad thing. somehow i think closeness with dhoni inspired him to join chennai. he is a talanted player and with ipl he get more experience for coming world cup. so i think that ipl forgive him for this matter.

Posted by Bijoy on (February 24, 2010, 14:29 GMT)

Akash, Its fine to see some one from the same field giving tips and guidelines to young players. If the contract is not reniewed means whyIPL bans Jadeja? IPL and BCCI should take decisions after taking clear details. A young boy like Jadeja doesnt have time to loose for legal activities let them play the game and make money. After a certain period it will not be easy for all to be Sachin

Posted by Auchi, Sri Lanka on (February 24, 2010, 12:58 GMT)

You are totally right.

Posted by Ashok chowdhary, moscow on (February 24, 2010, 6:38 GMT)

great job done aakash,how lucky some sportsmen are to have someone like you who think about them, keep it up aakash n keep on lightening us from the darker side of the story.

Posted by Shyam Joshi on (February 23, 2010, 15:20 GMT)

Why were the franchisees with whom Jadeja was interacting not penalised? This situation would not have come up if they would've refused to talk to him. Rajasthan Royals, themselves, might have talked to players belonging to other franchises.

Posted by S.Thyagaraj on (February 23, 2010, 6:18 GMT)

I feel it is unfair to penalise a player for lack of knowledge,our legal contracts are so complicated and even expert legal persons some times end up interpreting legal contracts,given this waht can a 21 yearold cricketer do in our legal jungle. Further our IPL boss and BCCI are so commercially minded that they dont care what happens as long as there ends are met.It is a situation which needs some urgent remidial action so that young and talented cricketers are not exploited either by agents or by others

Posted by Raghavendra Patnaik on (February 23, 2010, 5:27 GMT)

Interesting piece Aakash. I think you make a very relevant point in saying that athletes (young AND experienced) need professionals to advise them on aspects that are beyond their domain expertise. A lawyer may not help improve your elbow position while playing the cover drive, but he can surely watch your back, when it comes to legal rights and obligations. As a Sports lawyer who has advised some of India's leading cricketers and athletes from other sports, I find it hard to understand why athletes tend to be so lackadaisical about vetting the dotted lines they sign! Particularly in franchise oriented set-ups like the IPL, there is a real need for players to engage their own (expert) counsel and not rely only on their franchisees, who may turn against them if the situation arises.

The IPL itself ought to consider having a consortium of lawyers and agents that is involved in the contracts at the negotiation and drafting stage, to ensure minimum chaos, when incidents like these occur.

Posted by Ruchit Vachhrajani on (February 23, 2010, 2:27 GMT)

Playing for IPL is playing for money, it is simple. Isn't it?

So what is wrong even if his intentions were to check whether he can get better price from other franchaisees.

Was he clearly informed that he is not suppose to look for other offers? Was that included in the contract? Royals cannot have problems with Jadeja's intentions if these thigns were not specified in the contract.

Afterall, playing for IPL is playing for money...

Posted by Eshers on (February 23, 2010, 2:08 GMT)

Akash,

I think the issue has been completely mis-managed. Whats wrong if a guy who doesnt have a contract as on date negotiates with another club. Professionalism and Indian Cricket are some centuries behind still unfortunately !!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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