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March 19, 1999


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For flag and country... and the money's nice, too

Dean Jones

So you want to be a professional cricketer playing for your Country? What a job -- playing cricket all around your country and the globe, earning big money, meeting famous people, a brilliant way to spend your life!

Well I can tell you from past experiences, it is not as easy as you think!

Obviously you need to have talent and a burning passion to practice and to play. You also have to get used to the steady grind of touring, travelling day in and day out. Then you have to play on different grounds, stay in different hotels, in and out of airports, on and off buses, different roommates and food.

The factors that should motivate any young cricketer to be a professional are numerous. The major reasons hopefully are to represent your country, travel, money and above all the fact that you enjoy playing cricket more than you enjoy anything else in life.

Let us look at the Australian scene. There have only been 380 players to represent Australia in Test cricket -- and what an honour it is to be able to wear the baggy green Australian cap.

I have been very fortunate to have travelled around the world many times. Travel can be the best education of all -- seeing new countries and people, experiencing new food and cultures.

Money can be a motivational tool as well. Cricketers are starting to be well reimbursed for their efforts now, and rightly so. Test cricketers in Australia get paid US$4900 per Test, with a bonus of US$1300 per Test in a winning series. They also receive US$2300, with a winning bonus of US$500 per One Day International.

The Australian Cricket Board selects 25 contracted players with a minimum contract amount of US$38,000. First class players are now earning in the vicinity of US$28,000 per year. Other endorsements come into play as well. Take bat contracts for instance. The highest paid international player is earning US$125,000 just for using a cricket bat. Average international players are earning US$35,000. Footwear companies are spending huge amounts as well. The round-about figure for most players is approximately US$15,000. And donít forget the sunglasses -- players are earning around US$25,000 for that! Plus there are other endorsements {take Warne for example, he is reputedly being paid US$125,000 for giving up smoking!} that can all add up to a pretty good yearly income.

So if you are lucky enough to be in the top 25 players in Australia you can earn from US$100,000 to US$1,000,000 - a pretty good motivation!

So how can a cricketer succeed at this level on a consistent basis? There are many necessities -- the most important, in my book, being that each cricketer should have a mentor. Each player should have one person that he can confide in, be honest with and expect honesty in return, about his performances.

Preparation is also a vital necessity to find consistency. Attitude is the vital component to preparation, as reflected in the way the player attacks his practice and also remains blatantly honest about his own performance. For example, if a player unfortunately is on the wrong end of an LBW decision, he should be asking why he missed the ball, instead of complaining about the decision. Finding out what was wrong in his technique or his concentration is the only positive way to become a better player -- blaming the umpire is not.

Video analysis has been for me the best coaching tool of them all. It was amazing to see yourself on video and to get instant feedback on your technical deficiencies, where you are your own coach. My advice is try and see yourself on video -- a fabulous device to become a consistent cricketer.

Without fitness you will go nowhere. International teams are now playing on average 10 Tests and 35 One-Day Internationals a year. And donít forget some first class cricket is there as well, throw in some club matches {plus the travel and practice} -- add it all up and you realise you have to be fit to survive.

One major element the players of today forget is the responsibility that must be shown by them to themselves, the team and above all, to the game. Too many players are tarnishing the game by their off field activities. And this lack of care shown by some of todayís superstars is a huge concern. Players refuse to sign autographs, signalling their lack of appreciation to their fans, to the crowds and sometimes to their own team. My piece of advice to future cricketers is, if you want the money and the fame, you have to accept the baggage that goes along with it.

The media can make or break you. If you use them wisely they will no doubt help you make a successful career. There are so many people in the media, all of which are looking for a different angle. When you reach international level, you will want all the accolades and pats on the back, and if so, you will have to accept that at some stage you will get a kick up the backside. Criticism is part of the game, and you have to have a thick hide because if you make a mistake in this business, millions will know about it. Everyone has got an opinion and donít worry they are not backward in coming forward to tell you!

Cricket is a lifestyle. What a wonderful way to spend your life -- meeting great friends, seeing great places. Oh, I forgot to tell you that you have to face fast bowlers of the calibre of Donald, Wasim, Ambrose and McGrath, who would dearly like to kill you!

Aside from that, it is a pretty good job!

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