25 October, 2020

The Game Drags On

The big boys demur, the money's bad, the players get stale. Where's the ticket out?

Pradeep Mandhani
The Game Drags On
Last month, when Sachin Tendulkar made himself available for an Irani trophy match from September 18-22, it was after a two-year hiatus. In fact, he's not much for home games, having played just two on an average in his 15 years of first-class cricket.

This year, he even excused himself from the 45-player camp organised by the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) ahead of the domestic season. This, from a man who had in 2000 requested his state body to reschedule Mumbai's Ranji trophy semifinal against Tamil Nadu so he could return from Sharjah and play.

But that story has a twist. Tendulkar's star value had enabled Mumbai to get a sponsor (a pen manufacturer) worth Rs 40 lakh. The star too agreed to play ball, on condition he wouldn't be used separately by the sponsors for publicity campaigns. But the latter didn't keep their word and a furious Tendulkar demanded Rs 30 lakh for breach of trust. The sponsors, in retaliation, broke the contract.

A year later, a liquor manufacturer offered in excess of Rs 1 crore as a five-year sponsorship deal to MCA. A sulking...


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