Australian cricket global laughing stock, but money must be managed
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Every big sport is now a million-dollar business. And those earning in millions should be treated like stars and not schoolboys because big money breeds big egos
So, the cricket world appears to be in a state of shock following the homeworkgate. Shane Watson has walked out of the Australian team, but Mitchell Johnson, James Pattinson and Usman Khawaja have accepted the punishment sheepishly. After the debacle in Chennai and Hyderabad, this controversy has indeed made the Australian cricket a global laughing stock.
Man management, or rather the lack of it, is the root of the problem. Mickey Arthur is an outsider in Australian cricket and he doesn't have the Test pedigree as a cricketer. It is not unusual of him to put more emphasis on the theoretical side of the game, forgetting that cricket matches are basically won or lost by the runs scored and wickets taken. Arthur is in charge of a young Australian team that is going through transition. Still he is struggling in his job. It's a matter of conjecture what he would have done with someone like Shane Warne on board, when there was every possibility that his penchant for "wellness report" could have been described as literary diarrhoea.
But all the jibes and banters notwithstanding, maybe it's time to put things in perspective. A public spat between an individual player and team management that leads to drastic actions like suspension or walkout, are not very common in cricket. Yes, we always had a Lala Amarnath, Roy Gilchrist, Geoffrey Boycott or Navjot Sidhu, but big controversies were few and far between. Also, much notice was not given to off-the-field incidents when cricket was basically restricted to Doordarshan's national network and All India Radio's running commentary.
But this Watson issue and also the problems with Chris Gayle and Kevin Pietersen have surfaced in the Indian Premier League (IPL) era. This is a time when we should judge such cases differently. Unlike football or tennis, cricket has always been a country sport. Other options were never available to make a living out of it. A player has had to play Test cricket to make his name and more importantly, to earn a better living. Things have been changing. Club versus country is an ongoing debate in football. Clubs employ the players and they dictate terms. Naturally, loyalty lies with the paymasters.