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Our cricketers need to do more
January 03, 2005
The life of a man is as uncertain as raindrops trembling on a lotus leaf. The world will always remains a prey to death, disease, ego and grief.
-- Adi Shankara in Bhajagovindam
Words seem hollow at times like these.
Death and destruction in the form of one of the world's greatest natural disaster's cast a pall of gloom over South-East Asia on December 26. The death toll has already reached 135,000 and it continues to rise.
Luckily, no one I knew was present in any of the areas affected. Luckily, all my friends are safe. Death is personal and its impact is huge when it happens to you. Perhaps, the least we can do is open our hearts to all those who survived.
But just opening our hearts is not going to help. What we also need to do is open our wallets and redouble our efforts in this noble cause.
Those affected may not be your friends, family or anyone you may have known. But they are human and life is precious. The miracle of life is not just in living but also in surviving and it is these survivors who need our help the most.
India's cricketers are among the highest-paid sportsmen in the world and they are perhaps the only sportsmen in the country who are actually capable of making a difference.
The cricketers have indicated they will each donate match fees of one match. They are yet to decide whether the match will be a one-day international or a Test. One wonders if that is enough?
An Indian cricketer receives Rs 200,000 for a home Test and Rs 240,000 for an away match. A one-day international at home is worth Rs 160,000 and a one-dayer abroad Rs 185,000.
The cricketers can certainly do more. We can't force anyone to do more than they want to. But we can push them as far as possible and force them to act.
In all, 17 cricketers are contracted with the Board of Control for Cricket in India for different annual retainership fees.
Those in Grade A, like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, receive Rs 5,000,000; those in Grade B get Rs 3, 500, 000 and players in Grade C are assured of Rs 2, 000,000 in accordance with a graded payment system that came into effect from October 1, 2004.
Our cricketers have talked about helping. But help is needed now!
I called the BCCI secretary S K Nair on December 31, five days after the disaster, to find out what the world's richest cricket board was doing to help the relief efforts. I was told, "We are yet to decide how to help." Click.
That very evening, BCCI President Ranbir Singh Mahendra announced that the Board, which is also the richest in the world, will donate Rs 1 crore for the tsunami victims in South India.
The move followed similar pledges of aid from the Australian, English, South African and Bangladesh boards. The key word here is 'followed.' The BCCI should have been the first to galvanise support for the calamity. Instead, it was one of the last.
Surely, the game had many fans in the affected regions of Tamil Nadu. What kind of image are the Board and cricketers projecting about themselves?
The cricketers would earn a lot of goodwill, if they come forward and lend a helping hand.
The conspicuous silence of our cricketers has triggered off angry e-mails. Eight out of every ten mails received end with the same tagline: 'Our cricketers need to do more especially because they can.'
Even as this column was being written, I received an e-mail saying, 'According to UNICEF, as many as half of the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster were children.'
It is children, who really play the game, most of us just watch. This is our chance to make a difference and come what may we must.
Here's a list of the cricket world's efforts for the noble cause:
Virender Sehwag's bat with which he scored 309 runs was auctioned for Rs 70,000.
Anil Kumble's t-shirt, which he wore while claiming his 434th wicket, was sold for Rs 30,000.