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The Rediff Cricket Interview / Aunshuman Gaekwad
'How can you fix the number of products a player can endorse?'
April 12, 2007
Former India opening batsman and coach Aunshuman Dattaji Gaekwad is considered one of the finest cricketing brains. When he talks on any aspect of cricket, you have to listen to him.
A brilliant analytical mind, Gaekwad is highly respected in the cricketing fraternity for his forthright and lucid views. In fact, he is one of three cricketers who should have captained India -- the other two being Ashok Mankad and the late M L Jaisimha.
Haresh Pandya sought his views on Brian Lara's retirement from One-Day Internationals, Ravi Shastri's appointment as coach of the Indian team for the Bangladesh tour and the BCCI's decision to restrict the number of endorsements of its players.
Realising that he isn't good enough for the shorter version of the game, Brian Lara announced retirement from it. How do you look at his decision?
I must say Brian has taken a wise decision. Though he is still better than many of his contemporaries, he probably believes he hasn't been performing the way a batsman of his genius should. I'm sure the cricket world will greatly miss the brilliance of Lara. But it's great that he has decided to play Test cricket a couple of years more.
Don't you think Sachin Tendulkar, who hasn't been performing anywhere near his class in overs-specific cricket for the last several years, should take a leaf out of Lara's book and stop playing at least One-Day Internationals?
Well, big players have to take their own decisions. They themselves are the best judges and critics. I think no one needs to tell a player of the class and standing of Sachin how he should play or when he should call it day. He is a truly great batsman; nay a genius! I'm sure he'll announce his retirement the day he realises he is no longer capable of delivering. We should leave him alone.
You've always been in favour of an Indian coach for the national side. The BCCI has fallen back on an Indian and appointed your former teammate Ravi Shastri as coach. How do you see his appointment?
It's a very good choice. Ravi isn't only a very experienced player but also a man of media now. There is no reason why he shouldn't prove to be a good coach and manager. I'm sure he'll do an excellent job. Importantly, all the players like and respect him for what he is. A coach has to be loved and respected by his wards, so Ravi has already won many vital points.
Do we really need separate bowling and fielding coaches when a proven all-rounder like Shastri has been appointed coach now?
Since the BCCI has appointed separate bowling and fielding coaches after Greg Chappell's departure, I think there must be some requirement. I'm not too sure whether we really need a bowling coach, but I whole-heartedly welcome the idea of having a fielding coach for Team India.
Frankly speaking, out fielding, particularly in One-Day Internationals, leaves a lot to be desired compared to other teams of the world. I need hardly emphasise the importance of fielding in any type of cricket, more so in the one-day variety.
Do you think Robin Singh is the right man to be the fielding coach of Team India?
I'm sure we wouldn't have found a better player than Robin as the fielding coach. He himself was a brilliant, outstanding fielder. I believe he played many One-Day Internationals for the country on the strength of his fielding prowess alone. He'll have a lot of things to tell his wards about the many important aspects of fielding. He'll have to turn his wards into sharp fielders and also get the best out of them in actual matches. I do hope Robin proves to be as successful a fielding coach, as he was a high quality fielder himself.
How do you view the BCCI's new performance-based contract system for its players?
I think the BCCI has done very well by scrapping the gradation for retainer. The match fees for each player per Test and One-Day International are also fairly reasonable. Now there is an incentive, too, in terms of bonus for victory in Test series, home and away. So I don't think the players have grounds for any complaint.
But don't you think the BCCI is wrong in prohibiting players from endorsing not more than three products or sponsors?
Yes, this is one decision of the BCCI I can't agree with; it's silly. How can you fix the number of products or sponsors the players have to endorse? Why only 3? Why not 5? And for that matter, why not just 2? Though the BCCI has said it's open for frank and healthy discussions in this regard, the point is, why did it take such an illogical decision in the first place?
Simply because some of the BCCI bigwigs believe that the cricketers, especially the younger lot, get spoiled when they start making pots of money at a young age. They feel it affects their game and performance�
What nonsense! The theory that younger players tend to get spoiled when they earn a lot of money doesn't hold any water. Cricketers, even Indian cricketers, endorsing products and sponsors is a very old practice. It has been there for ages. You can't stop the players from making money. If we performed badly in the World Cup, it has nothing to do with our players appearing in television commercials or endorsing products and sponsors. All those televisions ads featuring the Indian players were shot long ago. Obviously, they're meant to be shown repeatedly on television during the World Cup in particular.
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