Saturday, 8 January 2011

Bought and sold

Just back from a Men's Breakfast at Church: good healthy food (bacon, eggs, mushrooms, black pudding) and good company. Talk inevitably strayed from problems with the church building to football - can't avoid it in Sheffield - and to the huge salaries that players are given (I won't say they earn them) for their services.

I get home to find the IPL auction taking place: franchises trying to out-bid each other to secure the best players for their T20 cricket teams. Interesting to note that some of the 'best' players in world cricket have gone unsold so far (Brain Lara, Herchelle Gibbs, Matt Prior, Mark Boucher to name a few), and that some huge sums of money have been shelled out for the services of players like Jacques Kallis ($1.1m), Yuvraj Singh ($1.8m) and a record $2.4m for Gautam Ghambir.

Much as I love cricket (though not so much the T20 format which lacks much of the subtlety of the longer game), I struggle to justify the sums of money that are being forked out here. Is it ever right to buy and sell human beings for any reason, least of all simply for the pleasure of Indian cricket crowds. Whilst recognising that there is a huge fan-base, and therefore a huge commercial market, for the game on the sub-continent, there does seem to be something awry in this almost slave-market approach to team selection.

At the end of the day, the rich franchises will benefit financially from this - that is after all why they do it. And they will do so at the expense of ordinary cricket fans in India, many of whom are living on subsistence wages and in relative poverty. Can that ever be right?