February 22, 2008

Money for nothing

The IPL auction has blown cricket's economy wide open with its astronomical salaries. Will the players be earning their keep?
40



Kicks for free: MS Dhoni stands to earn about $90,000 per match in a form of the game that is far from the premier version © Getty Images

In his early twenties, when many referred to George Best as the fifth Beatle, the world was his oyster. With his bright eyes, flowing locks, designer shirts, a Jaguar E-type in the garage, and skills that have seldom been seen on English football pitches since, Best epitomised the hedonistic 60s and a break with the bleak austerity of the post-war years. In those days he was on about US$295 a week - more than what Bobby Moore, England's World Cup-winning captain, earned.

According to an article in the London Times last November, inflation over the last 40 years stood at 1257 percent. Going by that figure, you might have expected today's top English Premier League footballers to be earning in the region of $3500, still significantly more than your average office worker. Think again. The average pro takes home $41,000 a week, after factoring in win bonuses and other performance-related incentives.

The big boys, though, are on a different plane. Chelsea's John Terry negotiated a new contract last year which made him the richest player in the league's history, with a weekly wage of $264,000. Eight others made over $196,000, while the likes of Fernando Torres at Liverpool and Didier Drogba at Chelsea had to make do with a mere $176,000. The numbers are similar for the top stars on the continent, such as Ronaldinho and Kaka. It's a measure of how far football has come in the new commercial age that no one needs to look enviously across the pond at US sports.

Tom Brady, who recently came very close to taking American Football's New England Patriots through a perfect season, signed a six-year deal worth $60 million in May 2005. His greatest rival, Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts, earns more, but the seven-year contract worth $99.2 million Manning inked in March 2004 only puts him in the same ballpark as Terry.

On Wednesday, cricket entered that salary stratosphere, with the sort of rewards that former Indian cricketers who earned little over $6 for a Test match back in the 60s wouldn't have dared dream of. The Chennai franchise's bid for Mahendra Singh Dhoni didn't just surprise the other seven teams, it also blew the lid off the cricket economy.

Even today, a Test match appearance fetches an Indian player just over $5900, and the Indian Premier League's player auction may just have some reassessing the worth of their international careers. Adam Gilchrist has already bid adieu to international cricket, and Shane Bond has seen his contract with New Zealand torn up so he can play for the Indian Cricket League, the rival competition that's treated like a leper by the establishment. Even Darren Lehmann, who retired recently, is talking of a comeback so he can take a healthy nest egg with him into the Adelaide sunset.

The only difference between the cricketers and these others is, the latter really have to earn the big bucks. The American Football season lasts just over 20 weeks (if you make it to the Superbowl), and the likes of Brady and Manning are targeted for the worst treatment by behemoths on the opposing defense. The same goes for footballers like Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, who runs up to 13km during the course of a game. If you factor in England internationals and friendly games, Gerrard plays more than 60 matches in a season that lasts ten months. In the process, he would likely have inspired the defeat of a dominant Internazionale of Milan, and pitted his skills against Aresenal and Manchester United in games of the greatest possible intensity.

 
 
All Dhoni has to do is play 16 games for cricket's version of the Harlem Globetrotters. Not even its most passionate backer will say that Twenty20 is the ultimate test of a cricketer's skill. That remains Test cricket
 

For six weeks of IPL work, Dhoni will bank $1.5 million, marginally more than Gerrard makes in the same period. All Dhoni has to do is play 16 games for cricket's version of the Harlem Globetrotters. Not even its most passionate backer will say that Twenty20 is the ultimate test of a cricketer's skill, the game's answer to a Milan derby or the Patriots v the Colts. That remains Test cricket. Outwitting Australia at the WACA or defying India on a turning track in Delhi - these remain the game's most arduous assignments. Miscuing a six over midwicket on designer flatbeds in a hit-and-miss format doesn't even compare.

The IPL's stated aim is to encourage people to take up sport, and promote young cricketers. Presumably, they also want to attract the sort of fanatical support that acts as an invisible 12th man for teams like Liverpool. But with many players not attached to their local franchises, it's hard to see how that will happen. Why on earth is Manoj Tiwary playing for Delhi, Rohit Sharma for Hyderabad and Robin Uthappa for Mumbai? In football, players choose their clubs. Torres turned down many to come to Liverpool, while Kaka stays on at Milan despite everyone else drooling over his talent. That makes it easier for fans to embrace non-local players, safe in the knowledge that the new icon isn't just some mercenary out to make a quick buck.

The sort of money thrown at young players in the IPL - is Tiwary really worth twice as much as Michael Hussey, even if Hussey only plays half the season? - should also make us wary.

American Football offers the greatest cautionary tale of too much, too soon. A few years ago, Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons was the most exciting quarterbacking talent around, the future of the league, and in possession of a contract worth $130 million over 10 years. These days he languishes in a penitentiary in Kansas, after a federal investigation exposed his involvement with Bad Newz Kennels, a pit-bull fighting and gambling syndicate. No one should expect young sportsmen to be role models, but you also don't want them to end up like Vick, or Best, who died an alcoholic a couple of years ago.

Perhaps the last word should go to Stephen Jay Gould, one of the great scientists of our age, who fell in love with sport in an era where excess wasn't the common denominator. "No one can reach personal perfection in a complex world filled with distraction," he wrote about his great idol, Joe DiMaggio. "He played every aspect of baseball with a fluid beauty in minimal motion, a spare elegance that made even his rare swinging strikeouts look beautiful ... a fierce pride that led him to retire the moment his skills began to erode."

Hopefully, we'll be able to say that one day about some of those who have clambered aboard the IPL gravy train.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • gandhik1 on February 24, 2008, 3:39 GMT

    The players earn a lot more than they deserve but the league will earn the money so the players have to earn their part. But I do believe this was the wrong way to distribute the players. The best way for this would be to have a draft with all players. Some thing like all the major leagues in the United States. So the highest bidder for the teams get the first pick and let them decide on their own what each player in their team deserves. But set a minimum fee for these players so they don't get underpaid. Once a season is over the league is going to have some stats on what each team costs, hence a particular cap space should be set up for each team. That way you would'nt see every good player in a single team. Also from next season onwards every player that wants to play in the league should sign up with the league and a paricular draft is held before each season with worst record gets first pick. Young players should also undergo a similar selection right now with limited salary.

  • premmsn on February 23, 2008, 16:16 GMT

    All said and done, one has to come to accept that a 5-day long game is not going anywhere, for that matter not even a day long ODI. How much of a ODI does anyone truly enjoy...the first and last 10-15overs? Time is of essence these days. People want to see something fast paced filled with action, one that lasts for a couple of hours, and keep moving on with their real lives. True T20 might not be a real test of skills of a cricketer or a team, so the focus should be on tuning the game but one has to accept that the format and the length of the game is here to stay.

    That said, this auctioning of Cricketeers is crazy. It was like bidding and trading of slaves when particularly the player does not have an aorta of say in the decision. It could have been done in a much more elegant way of behind the scenes negotiation through a players agent, in that way the player has a choice.

  • OzzieSteve on February 23, 2008, 2:08 GMT

    IPL is a junk tournament. Its just one millionaires team against another millionaires team, and who cares about the result. Nothing good can come out of this for cricket. It will create jealousy and resentment amongst team mates in natioanal sides , and will eventually collapse just like World Series Cricket, for the same reason - the results mean nothing.

    I think it is a plot to destroy Australia's domination of the game - divide and conquer, and Cricket Australia should be aware of the divisions it will create in the national side and ban all contracted players from playing IPL.

  • Crkt_Fan on February 23, 2008, 1:02 GMT

    For all you cinics in India, Australia and the rest of the cricket world chill out. This is only the beginning of the professional phase of Cricket. I am sure the system is not the most efficient. There will be many changes to the existing set up. And, what is wrong with cricketers making money while they can? It is not like Tiwary or Dhony is demanding the money. The player is being paid the price. Where is greed in this??? I have been following cricket for 36 years and agree that nothing can come close to Test Match Cricket, but the game and mentality have to change. Wouldn't you change your job if the competitor to your company is paying you 10 20 or 30 thousand more??

  • Nash_Suns on February 23, 2008, 0:26 GMT

    I am only interested in the revenue and jobs these games create. Few examples include mechandises, sports clubs, Electronics etc. Since it is the first year of IPL it makes sense for an auction of players. Eventually when the league grows players will select the team they want to play(only if they like the offer they get). As dileep stated its not always true that players in NBA, NFL, EPL play for the team they like. There are lot of instances people move to different teams for a better offer. Every successful league went tru auctioning and critic comments. Lets us all cheer for IPL please and make Cricket globally popular.

  • scifilvr on February 22, 2008, 22:07 GMT

    Let the market decide. Which translates to, let the public decide what they want to watch. Why would Tests be more sacred than 20-20 or 10-10 if it were to come to it? Make no mistake, I for one prefer watching Tests to 1-days, leave alone 20-20s (given I watched the entire Ind-Aus Test series shelling out hard earned $ to watch Channel 9 live over the internet from the US), but who am I to say: 1. The Indian public are stupid, and they should rather watch Tests over 20-20 or 1-day? 2. The Indian Cricketers should not be paid as much as they can get / demand?

    The former is morally wrong, the latter is unethical. Each of us in either the shoes of the players or the team owners would do the same.

    Yes, what will need to happen is players having access to: 1. better physical conditioning 2. better ICC/BCCI planning of itineraries (oh yes, its possible, dont let anybody fool you it cant be managed). But both of the above will happen as $ trickle down.

    God bless professional cricketers!

  • Rajan9 on February 22, 2008, 21:54 GMT

    Of course this is too new for all of us, but wait and watch, it will evolve. Too many critics are too quick to rubbish the value of T20 and the technique (or lack of) employed and required for the new game. Give it a couple of seasons and it will evolve and grow. Just like One Day cricket did. My theory is that ultimately, T20 will hasten the demise of fifty overs cricket. The die hards will continue to swear by Test cricket, but the masses will gravitate to T20 completely from ODIs. It's very conveniently and smartly packaged for the 21st century. Give it 5 years at the outside. By then T20 would have come of age, with a new breed of cricketer - extremely athletic, bold and possessing specialised skills - all resulting in a spectacular end product. The sheer scale of the economy of this new game will ensure that. ODI cricket, afterall did improve so many things in its wake. Even Test cricke

  • DeepCower on February 22, 2008, 21:47 GMT

    Another IPL bashing article! Would people wake up and stop pretending to be purists and stop writing like only they know how to admire classical cricket? I can so imagine traditionalists back in the 70's saying the same thing about one day cricket. And we love it now, don't we? People who write disparagingly about T20 cannot promise that they won't be glued to the TV when it happens. Because the thing is so damn exciting. Really, what is the problem? Alright, they earn a lot. But then, we don't compare every high earning member of the society to Vick or Best, do we? There are people who don't earn much that are also gamblers and alcoholics. Oh, well! Sport is dynamic. We have to embrace changes. I enjoy test cricket as much as anyone else, but to see every journalist in the world sip his morning coffee and start detailing in one column or the other why exactly he thinks IPL is no good is really rather tiring. Give it a shot. It might well be the next best thing in sport.

  • Sruji on February 22, 2008, 20:57 GMT

    Well done Dileep. It needs quite a research for those comparisons.

    My concern is about, people's uptake the rivalry between Indian cities. As Dileep mentioned how fans of Hyderabad connect Symonds as their sporting icon? What if Mumbai offers more money for Rohit Sharma.. what about those fans who supported him all those previous seasons?

    On the other hand, Indian fans didn't have the culture like those Anglo or American club fans and the healthy sporting rivalries (well, there are several occasions to prove it wrong). We are notorious for our passion and out of control behavior at times. This newly bread rivalry between cities could lead to tensions between fans.

    Well, this is just a thought.. and I don't think BCCI would care about it.

  • FAnon on February 22, 2008, 20:42 GMT

    Contemporary modernity and India's own drive to modernity have collided at various junctions (to great consternation of the old order). Indian corporations going transnational is one such 'junction' as is India's take on Neo-liberal socio-economic engineering of the nation state. Cricket is another and consciously or not the whole exercise reeks of adopting the Amercian mercenary model for sport thus aping India's new role model in its pursuit of 'progress'. Neo-liberal capitalism drives cricket as it drives professional sports - sporting sophistry. It remains to be seen if the model works as a necessary opiate for the masses and thus profitably. Orwell would have smirked at this turn of events, he who said that football was opiate for the British masses. Never fear though Bollywood will sedate the millions left behind on the road to modernity

  • gandhik1 on February 24, 2008, 3:39 GMT

    The players earn a lot more than they deserve but the league will earn the money so the players have to earn their part. But I do believe this was the wrong way to distribute the players. The best way for this would be to have a draft with all players. Some thing like all the major leagues in the United States. So the highest bidder for the teams get the first pick and let them decide on their own what each player in their team deserves. But set a minimum fee for these players so they don't get underpaid. Once a season is over the league is going to have some stats on what each team costs, hence a particular cap space should be set up for each team. That way you would'nt see every good player in a single team. Also from next season onwards every player that wants to play in the league should sign up with the league and a paricular draft is held before each season with worst record gets first pick. Young players should also undergo a similar selection right now with limited salary.

  • premmsn on February 23, 2008, 16:16 GMT

    All said and done, one has to come to accept that a 5-day long game is not going anywhere, for that matter not even a day long ODI. How much of a ODI does anyone truly enjoy...the first and last 10-15overs? Time is of essence these days. People want to see something fast paced filled with action, one that lasts for a couple of hours, and keep moving on with their real lives. True T20 might not be a real test of skills of a cricketer or a team, so the focus should be on tuning the game but one has to accept that the format and the length of the game is here to stay.

    That said, this auctioning of Cricketeers is crazy. It was like bidding and trading of slaves when particularly the player does not have an aorta of say in the decision. It could have been done in a much more elegant way of behind the scenes negotiation through a players agent, in that way the player has a choice.

  • OzzieSteve on February 23, 2008, 2:08 GMT

    IPL is a junk tournament. Its just one millionaires team against another millionaires team, and who cares about the result. Nothing good can come out of this for cricket. It will create jealousy and resentment amongst team mates in natioanal sides , and will eventually collapse just like World Series Cricket, for the same reason - the results mean nothing.

    I think it is a plot to destroy Australia's domination of the game - divide and conquer, and Cricket Australia should be aware of the divisions it will create in the national side and ban all contracted players from playing IPL.

  • Crkt_Fan on February 23, 2008, 1:02 GMT

    For all you cinics in India, Australia and the rest of the cricket world chill out. This is only the beginning of the professional phase of Cricket. I am sure the system is not the most efficient. There will be many changes to the existing set up. And, what is wrong with cricketers making money while they can? It is not like Tiwary or Dhony is demanding the money. The player is being paid the price. Where is greed in this??? I have been following cricket for 36 years and agree that nothing can come close to Test Match Cricket, but the game and mentality have to change. Wouldn't you change your job if the competitor to your company is paying you 10 20 or 30 thousand more??

  • Nash_Suns on February 23, 2008, 0:26 GMT

    I am only interested in the revenue and jobs these games create. Few examples include mechandises, sports clubs, Electronics etc. Since it is the first year of IPL it makes sense for an auction of players. Eventually when the league grows players will select the team they want to play(only if they like the offer they get). As dileep stated its not always true that players in NBA, NFL, EPL play for the team they like. There are lot of instances people move to different teams for a better offer. Every successful league went tru auctioning and critic comments. Lets us all cheer for IPL please and make Cricket globally popular.

  • scifilvr on February 22, 2008, 22:07 GMT

    Let the market decide. Which translates to, let the public decide what they want to watch. Why would Tests be more sacred than 20-20 or 10-10 if it were to come to it? Make no mistake, I for one prefer watching Tests to 1-days, leave alone 20-20s (given I watched the entire Ind-Aus Test series shelling out hard earned $ to watch Channel 9 live over the internet from the US), but who am I to say: 1. The Indian public are stupid, and they should rather watch Tests over 20-20 or 1-day? 2. The Indian Cricketers should not be paid as much as they can get / demand?

    The former is morally wrong, the latter is unethical. Each of us in either the shoes of the players or the team owners would do the same.

    Yes, what will need to happen is players having access to: 1. better physical conditioning 2. better ICC/BCCI planning of itineraries (oh yes, its possible, dont let anybody fool you it cant be managed). But both of the above will happen as $ trickle down.

    God bless professional cricketers!

  • Rajan9 on February 22, 2008, 21:54 GMT

    Of course this is too new for all of us, but wait and watch, it will evolve. Too many critics are too quick to rubbish the value of T20 and the technique (or lack of) employed and required for the new game. Give it a couple of seasons and it will evolve and grow. Just like One Day cricket did. My theory is that ultimately, T20 will hasten the demise of fifty overs cricket. The die hards will continue to swear by Test cricket, but the masses will gravitate to T20 completely from ODIs. It's very conveniently and smartly packaged for the 21st century. Give it 5 years at the outside. By then T20 would have come of age, with a new breed of cricketer - extremely athletic, bold and possessing specialised skills - all resulting in a spectacular end product. The sheer scale of the economy of this new game will ensure that. ODI cricket, afterall did improve so many things in its wake. Even Test cricke

  • DeepCower on February 22, 2008, 21:47 GMT

    Another IPL bashing article! Would people wake up and stop pretending to be purists and stop writing like only they know how to admire classical cricket? I can so imagine traditionalists back in the 70's saying the same thing about one day cricket. And we love it now, don't we? People who write disparagingly about T20 cannot promise that they won't be glued to the TV when it happens. Because the thing is so damn exciting. Really, what is the problem? Alright, they earn a lot. But then, we don't compare every high earning member of the society to Vick or Best, do we? There are people who don't earn much that are also gamblers and alcoholics. Oh, well! Sport is dynamic. We have to embrace changes. I enjoy test cricket as much as anyone else, but to see every journalist in the world sip his morning coffee and start detailing in one column or the other why exactly he thinks IPL is no good is really rather tiring. Give it a shot. It might well be the next best thing in sport.

  • Sruji on February 22, 2008, 20:57 GMT

    Well done Dileep. It needs quite a research for those comparisons.

    My concern is about, people's uptake the rivalry between Indian cities. As Dileep mentioned how fans of Hyderabad connect Symonds as their sporting icon? What if Mumbai offers more money for Rohit Sharma.. what about those fans who supported him all those previous seasons?

    On the other hand, Indian fans didn't have the culture like those Anglo or American club fans and the healthy sporting rivalries (well, there are several occasions to prove it wrong). We are notorious for our passion and out of control behavior at times. This newly bread rivalry between cities could lead to tensions between fans.

    Well, this is just a thought.. and I don't think BCCI would care about it.

  • FAnon on February 22, 2008, 20:42 GMT

    Contemporary modernity and India's own drive to modernity have collided at various junctions (to great consternation of the old order). Indian corporations going transnational is one such 'junction' as is India's take on Neo-liberal socio-economic engineering of the nation state. Cricket is another and consciously or not the whole exercise reeks of adopting the Amercian mercenary model for sport thus aping India's new role model in its pursuit of 'progress'. Neo-liberal capitalism drives cricket as it drives professional sports - sporting sophistry. It remains to be seen if the model works as a necessary opiate for the masses and thus profitably. Orwell would have smirked at this turn of events, he who said that football was opiate for the British masses. Never fear though Bollywood will sedate the millions left behind on the road to modernity

  • Sri_chicago on February 22, 2008, 20:12 GMT

    This is one of the better articles on the IPL and developments therein. Very well said Dileep. Everyone keeps comparing IPL to English Football and one of the most glaring differences (who chooses whom) has been highlighted by you. Six weeks of such big bucks - being a die-hard cricket (read Test Cricket) buff, I shudder to think where this is all leading to. We've talked about quality. How about intensity? Which players will stand out in terms of their commitment to excel and to perform, as a testament to their true character and skill? And which others will be content to put in lukewarm performances (hallo Yuvraj Singh) and just take home the greenbacks? How are fans and crowds supposed to react to their players playing for another club and (maybe)contributing to defeat or victory? Will there be calls or boos of match-fixing then? There is so much to ponder when money takes over. Alas, the golden era of cricket in its pure and pristine glory seems to be destined for extinction.

  • charan_crazy on February 22, 2008, 19:30 GMT

    I think it is a very nice article especially comparing the IPL with NFL and EPL. I want to comment on the one sentence you have written "The sort of money thrown at young players in the IPL - is Tiwary really worth twice as much as Michael Hussey, even if Hussey only plays half the season? - should also make us wary" There are three reasons why Tiwary was paid more than Hussey 1)Only two Australian players can play in each of the eight teams as per the Cricket Australia rule. 2)Only 4 international players can play in a given IPL Match. 3)Australians are playing a series of pakisthan(still talks about cancellation) and westindies in the months of april and May and which clashes with IPL Schedule and obviously Hussey is playing both one-days and test matches. So,It is better to invest on a young Indian lad who can play all the matches than overseas player with the amount of risk. That is one of the main reasons all the Indian Lads have fetched so much amount of money.

  • croak on February 22, 2008, 18:51 GMT

    I don't agree with your opinion of a Mumbai player like Rohit should play for Mumbai. The issue is mainly with the cricket that we are used to since time immemorial - controlled by the respective government, state, district/county etc etc. The NFL, NBA, MLB, Soccer leagues and all, have been around for quite some time and have evolved. I follow NBA more than the other leagues, so it is easy for me to compare. There were skilled players all along, but the way the game is played has completely changed. Players from one city play for another; rarely do they play for their city, and when they are drafted into the league, they don't have much choice other than play for that team for 3/2 years, depending on his draft position. During this period, he can go bust or become a super star. It is up to the player to exercise his skills and money the right way. Kwami Brown - bust, Gibert Arenas - superstar. Kobe Bryant is from Philadelphia, but plays for LA. In all, this is good for cricket.

  • AussiDesi on February 22, 2008, 18:36 GMT

    I disagree with your views. In this capitalist world it doesn't matter how much someone or something is worth, all that matters is how much the market willing to pay. Look around you and you will see that is exactly the case - whether it is a highly paid Hollywood actor, NBA player, overpriced stock or commodities such as oil. Your worth is what the market is willing to pay. It is the fact and let's just learn to accept it.

  • clrj on February 22, 2008, 17:49 GMT

    'What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?'

  • Sri7 on February 22, 2008, 17:48 GMT

    This is a totally out-of-context article. No one is saying that Dhoni is getting payed just for the kind of cricket he plays. Dhoni is earning big bucks because of his captaincy skills and his star attraction. This can not be compared to a european footballer. 1 billion Indians (most of them) just have one sport which they worship and that is cricket. This universal appeal is being used by different business entities to sell their products. MS Dhoni is the biggest star of 'em all now, its obvious that he will earn more. Imagine how much money the franchise's will make based on his star appeal and more so if the team wins. Coming to Symmonds hez a multi-faceted cricketer and can add much to ur team. And a winning team's franchise will make loads of money - with the advertising value this game provides. I wont be surprised if these wins and losses will affect the share value of say a reliance or a united breweries.. this tournament has substantial economic impact.

  • SnowSnake on February 22, 2008, 17:33 GMT

    Dileep,

    I must commend you for being the first person to see the absurdity in the IPL business model. In my opinion this business model is doomed to fail without casualities. The loosers in this failure will be the owners of the teams. Since these owners are independently rich there will not be any significant casualities. I see this model as a business failure where money will exchange hands from the likes of Shah Rukh Khan to cricket players.

    Contarary to what people call the ICL, IPL is a true rebel league. It was setup as a rebellion to the ICL formation. I think very little business thought went into whether this is a profitable venture. In my opinion, the true reason of IPL formation was BCCI ego to retain its monopoly in Indian sub-continent. Now, what we have is price wars between two leagues with players as beneficiaries. Given that the players' salaries are out in the open, expect these players to demand more till the IPL model fails.

  • LoveTheWall on February 22, 2008, 16:57 GMT

    While it is true that T20 is by no means a format that has the rigour to put the classic cricketing skills to test, its genesis in England and over to IPL (or ICL) has nothing to do with cricket the game and everything to do with 'cricket the commercial sport'. Given that, it is not a fair to compare salary with skill or salary with number of games (or weeks) of effort. Just in the same way as it is not fair to compare the cost of 30 second advertisement slot during the Superbowl, Oscars or Grammys with say a slot during a sitcom. Cricketers are commodities and the franchise marketing brains have put some value on the commercial sport which of course is based on how willing we as spectators are to reach into our pocket to buy a ticket or watch it on TV. It is a natural evolutionary cycle. I am convinced that the next step is Season pass packages on TV, blackouts for telecast of games that have not been sold out and so on. It's all, shall we say, part of the game!

  • Subramaniac on February 22, 2008, 16:54 GMT

    Why so much jealousy and hoopla over the price tags? The amounts are minuscule compared to every major sport and comparison based on amount of work done on the field is a flawed logic. Going by your logic the highest earning athlete in the world should not be Tiger Woods (close to $100 mil/year including endorsements). Whats wrong if players want to make more money, why should cricket be any different from other major sports. Its corporate sponsorship and private sector money, they are not looting the taxpayers money. Standard of every sport has only increased with the influx of money. If you want purity and spirit of the sport go watch the olympics. Test matches will never die and will remain the standard of measure for the game. If the IPL revenues are not good, the player contract values will go down if its gains popularity there is no reason why the players should not make more money.

  • p.gopi on February 22, 2008, 16:16 GMT

    IPL has just kicked off, and it needed publicity to go along with it. Auctioning was one way of getting it and it has worked i should say. Whatever you say about lack of local talents, players been given the right to decide will happen once IPL becomes successfull. What has been laid is the founding stone, not the final one, so be patient and see this transforming how cricket is played. I foresee the number of teaming going upto atleast 20, metros having more than 1 team, season getting prolonged to 2 or 5 months, players being chased by teams, enough teams to justify it as a good career path and other cricket boards launching their own leagues,

  • Burmanolo on February 22, 2008, 16:12 GMT

    I vehemently disagree with the latter part of this article.Sport today is not as much about pride,tradition or 'spirit', its about entertaining the fans.In every sport, you dont have the fans cheering for you, your 'outta the door'. T20 is a amazing development, and believe me it is here to stay. The same arguments were being made when pyjama cricket started, and todays it is the prominent version of the game. Most people who are against T20, will be 6 feet under in a few years.The T20 fans are crickets next generation. It's the only way to revive a dying art that cricket is becoming. Also, its ludicrous to state that players are not playing for their local franchises.Dear editor,chelsea FC seldom plays more than 1 londoner on the pitch. Man utd. has no major 1st teamers from the Manchester. With the advent of T20, we will have indian kids wearing local team jerseys rather that of Barcelona FC or some footy club in England. You may say T20 is blasphemy,I say its the Messiah.

  • Nayaksai on February 22, 2008, 15:53 GMT

    Dilip Premachandran is full of hot air - A hogwash again. Again a verry inept article... Trying to say something original without them wheraboos. So what's the punchline? Nothing. Zilch. IPL is pure entertainment(as conceded by the establishment) and if it pitches in couple of young faces, that's golden. He's drawing parallels or (trying) this fledgling league to NFL. BS!!! Other than trading pros they aint got nothing in common. Them footballers train all their lives to get to the trading post. Rohit Sharma is in IPL cause he did well in other formats that's the real sport.

    IPL is plain festive. A WWF/WWE kind a spectacle if you will (born against real Greeko-Roman wrestling or whatever!). Really Really Dileep Weary!!!

  • abysport on February 22, 2008, 15:48 GMT

    super article about the comparisons of the similar leagues in relation to other sports around the world... thats all i have to say....... been marvellous reading the articles here at cricinfo....thanks guys(@cricinfo) and keep it going...

  • aarpee2 on February 22, 2008, 15:40 GMT

    I agree.Everyone needs to perform consistently at a high level OVER A PERIOD OF TIME to achieve Reward, Recognition and stardom in life.. I believe in India it all Hype [by electronic media] and Hijack [by vested interests].At the end of the day Cricket is a team sport and our rankings and our performance except in flashes does not testify to this.Only Australia has shown this. Instant stardom and celebrity status do not bode well. My mind goes back to guys like VV Kumar,Padmaker Shivalker and Rajinder Goel who toiled tirelessly for decades for their respective state teams in Ranji trophy without any monetary rewards.One other factor is the spate of injuries our fast bowlers in particular are suffering and the consequences thereof.The lack of media attention to even the finals of domestic events is a telling story on the hype that is getting blown out of proportion. We seriously need a "SANITY CHECK' before disaster strikes.

  • SalmanAli on February 22, 2008, 15:25 GMT

    This is the first time I have actually liked an article by Dileep, and I agree with most of his comments.

    I think cricket is being rapidly commercialized without fully understanding the consequences and I do not blame the cricketers for being tempted by the money being offered, any young sportsman would take up a job which pays him exceptionally well (compared to what he was making before) without having to work hard.

    Another question we need to answer is the source of all this money being thrown into sport ? Is cricket on its way to become a Special Purpose Vehicle for those with income from undisclosed sources?

    In the end just to add to what Dileep has already said I would just include Baseball in the equation as well where during the season players end up playing 6 days a week (and half the country doesn't watch the games).

    Good work Dileep

  • sxbah on February 22, 2008, 15:20 GMT

    While some points are well made here, some are flat out wrong. First, in US, footballers choose clubs when they are free agents. When they are traded, they don't have a choice, so Tom Brady who was born in California might be forced to play in Boston. Second, when there is an expansion franchise, similar to the start of IPL, there is a pool of players provided and teams choose from those..players have no say on where they will play. Another point, Dhoni is not payed so much to relax. If the team does not win, and he sucks, his value will go down in the next round of contracts. So there is tremendous incentive to perform well on all players. Team owners, I guarantee, will not be associated with losers,as that diminishes their brand value. I have always said this, T20 or not, league of cricket was coming to India in some form: there is way too much money in the game to play meaningless series after series with no tangible end results.

  • maco on February 22, 2008, 15:19 GMT

    test cricket is still surviving because of people like you, who still leave in old generation, In this fast pace atmosphere no one has time to sit 5 days or sit 8 hours to watch cricket match, If you take our youths word, it should be fast, action, entertainment and quick, twenty serves that better, I would rather take my girlfriend to watch twenty than a movie. IPL is here to stay, because it got all the ingredients, It will be huge success with youth.

  • jayray999 on February 22, 2008, 14:37 GMT

    Why hold sportspersons to a higher standard? Does Mr. Premachandran possess "a fierce pride that [will lead] him to retire the moment his skills [begin] to erode?" If so, judging by this article, that time may have come. Resist change through your personal choices no matter how insignificant. Deny IPL readership, viewership etc. But what good is lament? It is not even like hurling gravel at a hurricane.

  • vpadmana on February 22, 2008, 12:58 GMT

    Aah.. Dileep, your argument is flawed. As long as the stadiums are filled and massive audiences are glued to their TV sets, it matters not what sport OR what version of the game. As it so happens, Twenty20 cricket is a guaranteed box-office hit, if there was ever one - better suited to the 21st century. The BCCI, the ICC, the TV moguls, you the media all stand to benefit from the show the players are putting on. Cricket has a larger world-wide audience (thanks primarily to India) than the NFL or the NBA. So, there's nothing morally or financially wrong with paying the actors their due in this star-studded movie (we pay Shah Rukh Khan and Rajnikanth megabucks, why not the same for the truly talented ones?). Sure, there will be stories like that of Vick and Best, but the follies of the few shouldn't keep the others from making hay while the sun (or should I say floodlight) shines. Eknath Solkar will be smiling in heaven, happy that cricketers are finally being paid their worth

  • Mahesh_AV on February 22, 2008, 12:54 GMT

    I agree that we need to reserve judgement till we see how this works out. As for the enduring support, lets look at it as a regional team getting support from that region, irrespective of the players in it. Karnataka backing Bangalore team, West Bengal backing the Kolkota team, etc, no matter which player is playing. This is sheer entertainment with mega-bucks and mega stars involved. As an aside, one wonders what happened to the Aussies' peevs about BCCI throwing its cash-rich attitude? Those very players are now smiling over BCCI's creation that has made them cash-rich!!!

  • BapiDas on February 22, 2008, 11:55 GMT

    Like any new movement, IPL will have to face resistance, fears and opposition. It is too early to draw conclusions. As long as the players are taken care of and the game benefits, every innovation should be welcome. It is also wrong to say that the more expensive players are 'better' than others. The franchises 'invested' in the players hoping that the event will be immensely popular and that they will be getting back their money's worth. Popularity and ability to attract viewers were more important considerations than skill and experience. T20 can never ever take the place of Test Cricket and the true lovers of the game will not be concerned about these novelties .

  • SanjivSanjiv on February 22, 2008, 11:19 GMT

    Its a well balanced article where Dileep has provided corporate dollar comparison of soccar and superbowl with cricket. No doubt IPL auction has opened the eyes of not only everyone playing the game but each one of us who likes the game. It has even attracted the eyes of people who even hardly know the game. I won't call 'money for nothing' but its money well spent. It is the money given not for the skills but for the entertainment which these cricketers can provide to the public. Majority of the people go there for the entertainment, not for watching the skill of the batsman or bowler in Twenty20 format. For the skills, I think Test cricket is a place to go. What this IPL is doing is making the overseas cricketers rich in the rich-list of Indian cricketers. May the IPL is a huge success and the rich-list grow more and more to catch with the superstars of the other games! Sanjiv Gupta Perth Australia

  • ExCric on February 22, 2008, 10:58 GMT

    Full houses do not turn up for 5 day or ODI games. Even the ODI tri-series in Australia with slow and uneven pitches has been an entertainingly boring contest, with low scores and an advantage to the team who bats before the lights come on. T20 is now big business and the traditionalists will have to share the cake with businessmen if cricket wishes to grow.

  • dcadi on February 22, 2008, 10:11 GMT

    There is no charm in watching a match that has no National pride and fervour. The IPL (for that matter even the ICL) is an overhyped corporate gamble out to make some quick bucks while the frenzy of T20 lasts. The auctioning was a vulgar dispay of wealth akin to corporate slavery. Let's not forget the forgotten heroes of Test Cricket from around the world. The T20 concept is a spit on their faces! To me Test Cricket is the mother of all Cricket battles. Test cricket is like a main course lunch that leaves you with an after taste and some some semblance of satisfaction and completeness. And T20 is like making an instant noodle dish that tastes good only as long as you eat it and then you forget it.

    I cannot agree less with Dileep on other issues and I am glad we as cricket fanatics would love to see how this form of T20 develops from here.

  • dcadi on February 22, 2008, 10:10 GMT

    There is no charm in watching a match that has no National pride and fervour. The IPL (for that matter even the ICL) is an overhyped corporate gamble out to make some quick bucks while the frenzy of T20 lasts. The auctioning was a vulgar dispay of wealth akin to corporate slavery. Let's not forget the forgotten heroes of Test Cricket from around the world. The T20 concept is a spit on their faces! To me Test Cricket is the mother of all Cricket battles. Test cricket is like a main course lunch that leaves you with an after taste and some some semblance of satisfaction and completeness. And T20 is like making an instant noodle dish that tastes good only as long as you eat it and then you forget it.

  • Cellinis on February 22, 2008, 9:18 GMT

    Bravo Dileep! As usual, cricket has gone for half measures. As you so astutely pointed out, Rohit Sharma - Mumbai or Hyderabad? Not to mention that this auction reminds me of a cattle market... just like cattles, none of these players had any say in which team they joined. Worse, they seem all very happy about it, a couple of centuries after slave trading (which followed a similar principle albeit slaves weren't earning anything) was abolished!

  • SourojitDhar on February 22, 2008, 8:18 GMT

    Mr. Premamchandran... Unfortunately, history is written by the victors. And money often dictates who the victor is. It is sad but true. We are living in the 21st century and no one has either the time nor energy to follow a 5-day game. True, it is a real test for a cricketer, but so is a marathon for a runner. Yet, we tend to be drawn more towards a 50-meter or 100-meter sprint. Wonder how many people remember the names of long distance runners. Same when it comes to F1 races compared to a 12-day rally event.

    For all their hard work, cult following and national stature, cricketers are underpaid (your comparisons to NFL and EPL are just some cases in point). Its time we shortened the game and paid our players big money.

    So please try to SNAP OUT of your conservative stupor and make an attempt to embrace change!!

  • mathematicised on February 22, 2008, 7:30 GMT

    Gould's comments on DiMaggio's strikeouts looking beautiful leads me to a comparison with Sachin Tendulkar.

    Going back to 1996 when India toured South Africa, Alan Donald bowled one of his most devastating deliveries to Sachin. It was on a good length outside off stump, and seamed in. Tendulkar went forward in what looked like a perfect forward defensive stroke. Somehow the ball snuck through and sent the middle stump cartwheeling.

    Being Indian, my heart sunk as soon as I heard the rattle and saw the stumps flayed but that image of ball beating bat is one of the most beautiful images that can be associated with the game. It is no coincidence that possibly the greatest batsman of our time was beaten by one of it's greatest bowlers. And yes, it is no coincidence that it happened in a Test Match, that most demanding and exacting art.

    While excess is all very well, everything about the IPL and the likes must be kept in perspective. Are the people and media up to it? One wonders.

  • ajaxus on February 22, 2008, 7:20 GMT

    I've seen this excuse of players from one city turning out for another being cited as a reason for lack of enduring support. I think you will find frequent and numerous examples of this happening in the English Premiership. Wayne Rooney was a Mersey-side youth brought up through the Everton youth programme until he joined the ranks at Old Trafford and Manchester United. I wouldn't think that made any difference to the fans at Manchester. Similarly Michael Carrick started out at West Ham as did Frank Lampard and both have plied their trade at other clubs - Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea resp. I think the IPL needs time and plenty of eyeballs as all franchises need time to build support and draw in fans. I would suspect that Chennai would ultimately draw support not only from cricket fans in Chennai and Tamil Nadu but also Jharkand and Australia, just like several Australians. Americans support Everton because Tim Cahill and Tim Howard play there.

  • masterblaster666 on February 22, 2008, 7:10 GMT

    I think it's advisable to reserve judgment until we see how the thing actually pans out. This is the first season and without big stars and big money, you won't be able to pull the crowds in, simple. We don't know what these same guys will be worth in the seasons to come..bigger they are, harder they fall, after all. Talking of club loyalty in football, let's not forget the many overpaid stars who exchanged club loyalty for big bucks to join Real Madrid, which, at the height of its excesses, didn't exactly produce unprecedented results on the field. Like mice to the pied piper, cricketers will follow the money, no point blaming them. IPL may just be what we need to cut down the excessive number of ODI tournaments played year-round to a few extremely competitive Test and ODI contests. Test cricket anyway is a cult that survives on a critical mass of followers, who are not going to be affected by the T20 invasion. You don't choose between WACA Test and IPL if you follow Test cricket.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • masterblaster666 on February 22, 2008, 7:10 GMT

    I think it's advisable to reserve judgment until we see how the thing actually pans out. This is the first season and without big stars and big money, you won't be able to pull the crowds in, simple. We don't know what these same guys will be worth in the seasons to come..bigger they are, harder they fall, after all. Talking of club loyalty in football, let's not forget the many overpaid stars who exchanged club loyalty for big bucks to join Real Madrid, which, at the height of its excesses, didn't exactly produce unprecedented results on the field. Like mice to the pied piper, cricketers will follow the money, no point blaming them. IPL may just be what we need to cut down the excessive number of ODI tournaments played year-round to a few extremely competitive Test and ODI contests. Test cricket anyway is a cult that survives on a critical mass of followers, who are not going to be affected by the T20 invasion. You don't choose between WACA Test and IPL if you follow Test cricket.

  • ajaxus on February 22, 2008, 7:20 GMT

    I've seen this excuse of players from one city turning out for another being cited as a reason for lack of enduring support. I think you will find frequent and numerous examples of this happening in the English Premiership. Wayne Rooney was a Mersey-side youth brought up through the Everton youth programme until he joined the ranks at Old Trafford and Manchester United. I wouldn't think that made any difference to the fans at Manchester. Similarly Michael Carrick started out at West Ham as did Frank Lampard and both have plied their trade at other clubs - Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea resp. I think the IPL needs time and plenty of eyeballs as all franchises need time to build support and draw in fans. I would suspect that Chennai would ultimately draw support not only from cricket fans in Chennai and Tamil Nadu but also Jharkand and Australia, just like several Australians. Americans support Everton because Tim Cahill and Tim Howard play there.

  • mathematicised on February 22, 2008, 7:30 GMT

    Gould's comments on DiMaggio's strikeouts looking beautiful leads me to a comparison with Sachin Tendulkar.

    Going back to 1996 when India toured South Africa, Alan Donald bowled one of his most devastating deliveries to Sachin. It was on a good length outside off stump, and seamed in. Tendulkar went forward in what looked like a perfect forward defensive stroke. Somehow the ball snuck through and sent the middle stump cartwheeling.

    Being Indian, my heart sunk as soon as I heard the rattle and saw the stumps flayed but that image of ball beating bat is one of the most beautiful images that can be associated with the game. It is no coincidence that possibly the greatest batsman of our time was beaten by one of it's greatest bowlers. And yes, it is no coincidence that it happened in a Test Match, that most demanding and exacting art.

    While excess is all very well, everything about the IPL and the likes must be kept in perspective. Are the people and media up to it? One wonders.

  • SourojitDhar on February 22, 2008, 8:18 GMT

    Mr. Premamchandran... Unfortunately, history is written by the victors. And money often dictates who the victor is. It is sad but true. We are living in the 21st century and no one has either the time nor energy to follow a 5-day game. True, it is a real test for a cricketer, but so is a marathon for a runner. Yet, we tend to be drawn more towards a 50-meter or 100-meter sprint. Wonder how many people remember the names of long distance runners. Same when it comes to F1 races compared to a 12-day rally event.

    For all their hard work, cult following and national stature, cricketers are underpaid (your comparisons to NFL and EPL are just some cases in point). Its time we shortened the game and paid our players big money.

    So please try to SNAP OUT of your conservative stupor and make an attempt to embrace change!!

  • Cellinis on February 22, 2008, 9:18 GMT

    Bravo Dileep! As usual, cricket has gone for half measures. As you so astutely pointed out, Rohit Sharma - Mumbai or Hyderabad? Not to mention that this auction reminds me of a cattle market... just like cattles, none of these players had any say in which team they joined. Worse, they seem all very happy about it, a couple of centuries after slave trading (which followed a similar principle albeit slaves weren't earning anything) was abolished!

  • dcadi on February 22, 2008, 10:10 GMT

    There is no charm in watching a match that has no National pride and fervour. The IPL (for that matter even the ICL) is an overhyped corporate gamble out to make some quick bucks while the frenzy of T20 lasts. The auctioning was a vulgar dispay of wealth akin to corporate slavery. Let's not forget the forgotten heroes of Test Cricket from around the world. The T20 concept is a spit on their faces! To me Test Cricket is the mother of all Cricket battles. Test cricket is like a main course lunch that leaves you with an after taste and some some semblance of satisfaction and completeness. And T20 is like making an instant noodle dish that tastes good only as long as you eat it and then you forget it.

  • dcadi on February 22, 2008, 10:11 GMT

    There is no charm in watching a match that has no National pride and fervour. The IPL (for that matter even the ICL) is an overhyped corporate gamble out to make some quick bucks while the frenzy of T20 lasts. The auctioning was a vulgar dispay of wealth akin to corporate slavery. Let's not forget the forgotten heroes of Test Cricket from around the world. The T20 concept is a spit on their faces! To me Test Cricket is the mother of all Cricket battles. Test cricket is like a main course lunch that leaves you with an after taste and some some semblance of satisfaction and completeness. And T20 is like making an instant noodle dish that tastes good only as long as you eat it and then you forget it.

    I cannot agree less with Dileep on other issues and I am glad we as cricket fanatics would love to see how this form of T20 develops from here.

  • ExCric on February 22, 2008, 10:58 GMT

    Full houses do not turn up for 5 day or ODI games. Even the ODI tri-series in Australia with slow and uneven pitches has been an entertainingly boring contest, with low scores and an advantage to the team who bats before the lights come on. T20 is now big business and the traditionalists will have to share the cake with businessmen if cricket wishes to grow.

  • SanjivSanjiv on February 22, 2008, 11:19 GMT

    Its a well balanced article where Dileep has provided corporate dollar comparison of soccar and superbowl with cricket. No doubt IPL auction has opened the eyes of not only everyone playing the game but each one of us who likes the game. It has even attracted the eyes of people who even hardly know the game. I won't call 'money for nothing' but its money well spent. It is the money given not for the skills but for the entertainment which these cricketers can provide to the public. Majority of the people go there for the entertainment, not for watching the skill of the batsman or bowler in Twenty20 format. For the skills, I think Test cricket is a place to go. What this IPL is doing is making the overseas cricketers rich in the rich-list of Indian cricketers. May the IPL is a huge success and the rich-list grow more and more to catch with the superstars of the other games! Sanjiv Gupta Perth Australia

  • BapiDas on February 22, 2008, 11:55 GMT

    Like any new movement, IPL will have to face resistance, fears and opposition. It is too early to draw conclusions. As long as the players are taken care of and the game benefits, every innovation should be welcome. It is also wrong to say that the more expensive players are 'better' than others. The franchises 'invested' in the players hoping that the event will be immensely popular and that they will be getting back their money's worth. Popularity and ability to attract viewers were more important considerations than skill and experience. T20 can never ever take the place of Test Cricket and the true lovers of the game will not be concerned about these novelties .