Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The international cricket community is getting a taste of that old saying with India’s current domination of the administrative and financial decision-making processes which govern the way the game is played. But what is ‘power’?
The answer, in sport at least, is unequivocal – power is money.
What gives IPL commissioner Lalit Modi the right to dictate which teams Michael Hussey and Albie Morkel play for in the forthcoming Twenty20 Champions League?
Hussey has served Western Australia for a decade, he was nurtured by his State team who backed him and looked after him through the lean times (not that there were many) as well as the good.
Similarly, Morkel was paid and rehabilitated through back and ankle injuries for years by the Titans who took a long-term view that he would, one day, pay them back through the weight of performance.
Now the ultimate payday has arrived with the inaugural Champions League set to pay the winner an astonishing $5 million, the sort of money that would utterly transform a provincial team and guarantee financial security for a decade, if not in perpetuity. But to claim the bounty, the Titans will have to win it without Morkel because Modi has decreed that Morkel and Hussey must play for the Chennai SuperKings who have also qualified for the eight-team cash orgy.
The Titans, the Dolphins, Victoria Bush Rangers, Western Australia, SuperKings and Rajasthan Royals will be joined by the two teams which reach the final of the English domestic Twenty20 tournament to be played shortly.
So what does give Modi the right? Money. It is almost of no consequence to the IPL, at least not the insignificant amounts which the Titans would take seriously. So Modi has graciously announced that IPL teams with players contracted to other teams will pay compensation – or what he has oddly labelled ‘receiving fees.’
In theory, the Titans could say ‘no’ and insist on Morkel’s services in the push for $5 million. But it is only a theory – in reality, all Modi has to do is offer an amount the Titans could not afford to do without. A million rand should do it which, at around $150,000, is the kind of money the IPL budgets for snacks in their Franchise owners corporate boxes. Per match. Besides, Morkel would be ill-advised to upset the SuperKings who now pay him over ten times what the Titans can afford.
Allen Stanford’s money will have a say on the future landscape of the international game and the England Cricket Board can sway opinion to a small degree, but Lalit Modi has gripped the game by the balls and the rest of the world, unsurprisingly, is finding it very hard to move without fear or pain.
Perhaps Modi and the rest of India’s big chiefs genuinely don’t care about the welfare of New Zealand, West Indian and South African cricket. Maybe it is irrelevant to them whether the game survives in other countries, let alone prospers or grows.
If they don’t, however, then India will become to cricket what America is to gridiron and Australia to Aussie Rules. International cricket will eventually cease to exist in any meaningful sense.
Maybe that’s the plan! Having taken control of the game and killed it off everywhere else, then India could play 180 IPL matches per year and call it the World Series, just like the Americans do!
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