The IPL has been run with an iron fist from its inception, through its first season and then up to the player auction which preceded the second season. And Lalit Modi has every intention of continuing his autocratic rule.
Power is a giddy drug and the thrill of driving the ICL to the brink of liquidation and then seeing national cricket boards bow and scrape in his court must be close to sexual in its thrill.
But he may be about to face his biggest challenge yet and it may come from the source he would expect least. The players. Or at least, the international players.
India’s superstars are so wealthy they don’t need to worry about players ‘unions’ while the unheralded youngsters who form the other part of the IPL Franchises are too poor to dare challenge the ultimate authority which commands and controls their fate.
But the players from seven of the nine Test playing nations have subscribed to their own Players Association and have given their approval to a global amalgamation of those unions – the Federation of International Cricketers Associations (FICA).
Perhaps Modi has good and sound reasons for refusing to acknowledge FICA, but there is also the possibility that he has drastically misunderstood the strength of the relationship between international players wrought through their joint association.
By stating that he “does not talk to FICA” he may just have bitten off more than he can chew. FICA’s strongest member is the PCA of England, closely followed in strength by South Africa’s SACA. New Zealand and the West Indies are not far behind. There used to be a perception that Sri Lanka’s cricketers were more ‘laissez faire’ about international player relations, but that has changed radically after their appalling experience at the hand of terrorists in Pakistan.
All it will take for Modi’s dream to start crumbling around him is for a small group of the world’s most influential cricketers to take a stand against his intransigence. There may be nothing wrong with him insisting that the IPL will take sole control of security, but why would he so stubbornly refuse to speak to the body which the players have assigned as their joint representative?
True leaders are those who consult, listen and digest. They do not place themselves in bullet-proof towers constructed purely from their own conceited conviction.
How can Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Flintoff, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene seriously take the money on offer in season two of the IPL when the man in charge of the league rudely refuses to even speak to the men they have elected to be the guardians of their collective fate.
Modi ensures that the gladiators in his Colosseum are very well, but there is a difference between the gladiators of 2000 years ago and today. If Modi can’t see that, then it is up to the players to make him aware. Perhaps they will divide themselves into two groups, divided by 2000 years: Money ahead of life, and Life ahead of money.
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