19 January, 2021

Shoemaker And Six Elves

Is Reebok responsible for Azhar's fresh lease as captain?

Shoemaker And Six Elves

WAS the cricket board forced to extend Azharuddin's reign as captain last October because of its voracious commercial appetite? Impossible as it may sound, rumour has it that Azhar owes his one-year extension to a tacit Reebok-BCCI understanding.

When the shoe giant set foot in India last year, it offered to sponsor the Bombay, Karnataka and Punjab Ranji teams for three years, and six Test players—Azhar, Navjot Sidhu, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, Nayan Mongia and Venkatesh Prasad. The buzz is that the board okayed the £100,000 (Rs 60 lakh) "wages and sponsorship package" on Reebok's condition that Azhar be retained for a year. "That he has managed to ride out several personal disasters has only been due to (the) unprecedented deal," says The Sunday Times, London.

Reebok denies the charge. "At no point did we approach the BCCI for our contracts with individual players," says company Vice-President Siddhartha Verma. The six players were individually asked to endorse Reebok. Sachin Tendulkar's demand of Rs 1...



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