May 22, 2011

The problem with fining Warne $50,000

Slapping such a hefty fine on someone for speaking his mind sets a precedent that may be tough to follow

So what level of punishment does the BCCI envision for a serious cricketing crime? For instance, what would the use of performance-enhancing drugs or physical violence on the field bring in the way of punishment?

A mere life imprisonment perhaps? Or maybe a leisurely month-long inquisition at Abu Ghraib? Or if really drastic measures are called for, would they consider dusting off the guillotine? Seriously, a US$ 50,000 fine for Shane Warne speaking his mind does seem a bit on the high side. When I heard the severity of the sentence, I thought it was a Monty Python sketch in the making.

There's no doubt Warne can pay the fine, so the problem is not with him having to part with 50 grand; although he'd probably prefer to drop it at the nearest casino, where he'd at least have a chance of a win. The dilemma for the officials will occur when a serious offence is committed in the future by a young player who is not highly paid. Because the IPL is a lot like India itself - there are the have-lots and the have-nots - it's difficult to mete out even-handed fines. When player contracts vary between $2 million and 20,000 a year, it's difficult for the commissioners to treat each offence equally. I guess this is where a stiff suspension rather than a fine comes in.

Nevertheless Warne's penalty seems harsh. Especially considering, except in rare cases, in any animated discussion on the game between a cricketer and an administrator, the player will be the closest to reality.

Sure, Warne could have kept his conversation with Mr Dixit private. That way it would have remained a matter for the two of them to resolve. However, my experience tells me that in these cases involving a high-profile player and a back-room boy, the latter likes to flex his muscles and have his 15 minutes of fame.

There's also the not-so-minor matter of Warne playing his final competitive match. The public was not going to be thrilled, never mind the Mumbai Indians, if Warne wasn't available to match wits with Sachin Tendulkar one last time. It could have ruined a potential monster gate. So the officials knew it would be a mistake to suspend Warne for his transgression; that left them with only one option, a fine.

They probably felt they had to be seen to be hard on Warne. Sporting officials have this distinct distaste for personal criticism from players, never mind a public haranguing.

The problem the BCCI has created is one of precedent. The next time a serious offence is committed - and trust me it'll happen - Warne's is the fine by which the punishment for the new violation will be judged.

A devil's advocate might say Warne's steep fine will deter potential future offenders. That's not the way it works. In the heat of the moment something is said or done, and in the aftermath, no matter how much the offender wishes he could do it differently, the act has been committed. If the death penalty doesn't deter potential murderers, I don't like the chances of a steep fine making a highly competitive cricketer think twice before he speaks or acts.

Therein may lie the saving grace for the officials. It's usually only highly competitive players who get themselves into such a state that something offensive is said in the heat of the moment. And it's usually the same players who attain the lofty salary status.

Take Gautam Gambhir, for example. He's shown himself to be vulnerable to the odd bout of anger, but as the highest-paid player in this year's IPL, he'll be able to afford a steep fine if he transgresses.

Heaven knows there are a number of players in the IPL who are not worth the lucrative contracts they signed and they should have to return some of their "earnings" at the end of the season. However, Warne is not one of those players and in his case the punishment didn't fit the crime.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator and columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Big on May 25, 2011, 19:49 GMT

    @Biggus, I don't think you read the article carefully, @Satabdwi is talking about the '15 minute fame' for the other guy in this episode (a.k.a Dixit). Either way, Ian's fame is not in question here, but his logic of excessive fine or precedence is definitely is.

  • Pranay on May 25, 2011, 18:43 GMT

    Mr. Chappell with all due respect I wud lyk 2 say that no body is interested in what u say....plz help out your players that wud be better for ur country's team. And in context to warne's fine......i wud say it was a well deserved one is bigger than the can't make furious comments abt curators like that......and btw.......same pitch saw the collapse of MI for a meagre 87.....whr was Mr. Warne to complain abt the pitch den??

  • Richard on May 24, 2011, 19:34 GMT

    @Satabdwi Sinha-Chappell's had a bit more than "15 minutes of fame" mate. He had a long and successful test career-somewhat more than "15 minutes". Not the right analogy! Been watching too much 'Indian Idol' have we?

  • V.L on May 24, 2011, 18:46 GMT

    Warne had not just spoke his mind out. It seems he abused Dixit after the match with RCB. When you are paid obscene amounts of money to play 20-20 cricket, the least you can do is maintain discipline. Chappell and his like should come out of the illusion that Aussies still rule World Cricket.

  • Adam on May 24, 2011, 14:02 GMT

    And all this talk of Warne somehow being a unique bad guy in wanting a certain type of pitch is nonsense. Pitch preferencing has been going on in every country around the world for years. Groundskeepers in each country are so expereinced at it now that the captains mostly don't need to even ask!

  • Adam on May 24, 2011, 13:59 GMT

    I think the crux of the article is true, the fine seems too heavy. What they have set here is a precedent. It will be interesting to see what the next fine is and for what.

  • Dummy4 on May 24, 2011, 12:58 GMT

    At least I don't know what actually happened there. Whether Warne said too much, or Mr. Dixit overreacted. I do not agree with Mr. Chapell's comment of "15 minutes of fame". There was an article by Mr. Dixit on Cric info about Warne being a flawed genius. One thing is for sure, Warne is a one of the greatest cricketers of modern day cricket. Mr Dixit's timing of writing that articles tells us that he was indeed offended by what Warne had said. I agree, End does not justify the means and hence Mr. Dixit mentioning that Warne is a dictator etc is atleast worth checking out. Warne has brought victory to RR when nobody even gave them a chance. The fact remains that RR played away matches and won! And they won the finals too. All this because Warne was doctoring pitches is preposterous. I haven't seen any player saying that Warne doesn't listen to suggestions, but who knows. Only time will tell.

  • Dummy4 on May 24, 2011, 12:57 GMT

    People like Ian Chappell wait for every single moment to criticize BCCI at every step.

    Thats all.

  • Big on May 23, 2011, 20:59 GMT

    @Mohammed Aseem, on what basis are you indicating that Warne made a formal comment? If your definition of abuse relates to formal comment, then we have serious difference of opinion. Truth is, Warne wanted a grand finale for his last IPL - which he did not get and wanted to blame someone - guess who is always the guinea-pigs for Australian Players? I am amazed that Ian even bothered to defend Warne by suggesting that BCCI is setting a bad precedence, in fact they would be setting bad precedence if they let Warne go scotch-free - just like many of his fellow-team mates have in the past under ICC.

  • Big on May 23, 2011, 20:51 GMT

    @Nival Chamara Kolambage, You are still not getting the point. Its not about defending BCCI (and whats wrong with that - Ian is defending his country men, even when they are wrong), its about correct punishment and I strongly believe Warne was given appropriate if not severe punishment. Also, please use correct English its not "dat" its "that"

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