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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.

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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.

  • The Australian team donated Australian $17,000, its prize money from the Melbourne Test against Pakistan. Cricket Australia is also making a matching donation to take the total amount to Australian $34,000.

  • The English team and its players association, the Professional Cricketers Association, donated 20,000 pounds to assist relief efforts.

  • The Bangladesh Cricket Board has pledged the gate receipts from its upcoming series against Zimbabwe, estimated at $10,000, to the relief efforts.

  • Teams from Australia, England, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa will donate signed memorabilia for auction in support of relief efforts.

  • Collections are also planned during the New Year's Day Tests in both Australia and South Africa.

  • Cricket South Africa has pledged a donation and the South African mobile phone network MTN, a co-sponsor of Test cricket along with Castle Lager, will donate the proceeds from its match day 'SMS The Scoreboard' phone line. A pledge line will also be in operation during the third Test against England.

  • New Zealand Cricket will donate $1 from every ticket sold of the Twenty20 game to be played between Australia and New Zealand while NZC's ticketing partner Ticketek will donate its share of the service fee on all the tickets for the unplayed matches directly to the World Vision charity.

  • NZC's apparel supplier and partner Wstar will donate a portion of the sale price of all products sold at the ground during the forthcoming Australian tour of New Zealand to the relief efforts.

  • The ICC has announced plans to stage two matches between the world's best players to raise millions of dollars for victims of the disaster.

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    Number of User Comments: 50

    Sub: WHAT?

    What right do you have to expect Tendulkar to pay your college fees? What is the point you are trying to make? Tendulkar had adopted ...

    Posted by Dheeban

    Sub: Cricketer\\\'s donation

    I don't understand the basis of the article at all. What makes the reporter think that our cricketers are not doing enough? And in response ...

    Posted by Ramsundar Lakshminarayanan

    Sub: Vingeing

    There you go once again vingeing. The media guys in India always vinge and crib and crib.... BTW, I am an Indian too. Instead of ...

    Posted by Rooswald

    Sub: what abt Page3 fellows

    what abt Page3 fellows who simply just could not even sacficice one new year party when nations like sweden which are so far away from ...

    Posted by sandeep

    Sub: Undeserving Heroes

    How did our Cricketers help is a natural question that many people ask ? The Australian Cricketers have gained lot of respect by being the ...

    Posted by Saravanan


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