The Great Hanif Mohammad witnessed the
3rd ODI of Bank Alfalah Cup between Pakistan and England at Karachi's National
Stadium last week. There is Hanif Mohammad enclosure at the stadium named after
him, a tribute to his indelible contribution. This cricket legend played under
the captaincy of Abdul Hafeez Kardar in the budding days of Pakistani cricket.
The legends like Abdul Hafeez Kardar, Hanif Mohammad, Fazal Mahmood and Imtiaz
Ahmed laid the foundation of Pakistan cricket from scratch. The nation owes to
the all time great captain Kardar, sensational bowler Fazal Mahmood and
dependable batsmen such as Hanif Mohammad & Imtiaz Ahmed.
Cricket was not a commercial sport at
all in those days so these legends made incessant efforts only to keep the flag
flying at international level. The players who played from 1950s to 1970s could
not capitalize on situations and perhaps they did not want to do the same since
the objectives were only to represent the country, play for the country and win
for the country. They were provided with no facilities at all. There was no
concept of getting huge contractual salary per month, provident fund, product
endorsement contracts and so on.
I was shocked to read a couple of years
ago that some of our former cricket heroes were in dire financial crises. But
there is a ray of hope due to some of our contemporary cricket stars who feel
the pain and empathize. It was an excellent move by Pakistan captain
Inzamam-ul-Haq who revealed that every player in the team would donate five
percent of his earnings from every match, apart from the auction of bats and
other accessories, and PCB would also contribute the same amount to give
financial assistance to the former cricketers who are in need. Looking at this
situation one can imagine the hardships our legends might have gone through.
Till early 1980s, cricket was not a
very popular game in Pakistan due to lack of publicity, non-availability of
cable television network in South Asia and dearth of matches played between the
countries. Radio Pakistan and PTV were the only sources but their contribution
was not sound as well owing to the lack of commercialism in the realm.
At present, cricket means plenty of
money, overnight fame and luxurious lifestyle.
It has evolved as a lucrative
profession, to say the least. Things are different from the past. There are over
06 exclusive sports channels which give ample coverage to sports including
cricket, and these channels with their sheer professional approach have been
instrumental in fascinating over 02 billion population of the globe to watch the
matches of quality production. Today, the cricketers have too hectic schedule to
cope with. I remember Zaheer Abbas decling an offer to play in a foreign country
for another team however at present cricketers can be seen playing for various
English counties etc. It was a treat to see Imran Khan in an advertisement of a
tea company and then of Pepsi only as compared to our young cricketers who can
be seen abundantly in the ads of shampoos, biscuits, toothpastes, medical
devices, beverage companies and so forth.
Let's look at a few commercial aspects
of cricket which have evolved over a decade or so making the sport a commercial
commodity. The influx of sports channels, lucrative contracts of the players
with their respective boards and saleable features of the individual players are
some of the things worth-mentioning.
Public throughout the world adopts what
their heroes endorse. Sponsorship is about brand awareness. Association of a
brand with a cricket hero has helped to take public recognition of the brands to
heights. The sponsors give hefty offers to the cricket heroes for the
endorsements of their products which help the products sell dramatically. Saeed
Anwar endorsed a shampoo, Shahid Afridi endorsed toothpaste, Abdul Razzaq and
Shoaib Akhtar endorsed biscuits, Javed Miandad, Rameez Raja, Wasim Akram, Waqar
Younis, and other team members endorsed Pepsi.
Contemporary cricketers earn millions
by individual endorsements of the products. Endorsements by the Indian players
are more lucrative than our Pakistani cricketers. By virtue of endorsements,
Sachin Tendulkar has emerged as one of the most opulent elite in the realm. He
signed a record US$7.5 million deal with World Tel in 1995 for the period of
five years. He endorses Pepsi Cola, MRF tires, TVS scooters, Visa Card,
Britannia biscuits and a number of other products. Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav
Ganguly and Rahul Dravid charge at least Rs 25 million, Rs 15 million and Rs 7.5
million, respectively, for each endorsement. Virender Sehwag, who endorses Coke,
V.V.S. Laxman, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Zaheer
Khan, Irfan Pathan, Ajit Agarkar, Ashish Nehra and L. Balaji also bag millions
for endorsing products.
Apart from product endorsements,
performance related bonuses and per match fee, the cricketers are paid monthly
salary irrespective of matches played or not.
The Australian cricketers receive up to
$3000 as per match fee. The match fee paid to the Indian cricketers for a home
series is Rs. 2,00,000 for a Test and Rs. 1,60,000 for an ODI. On the other hand
they are paid Rs. 2,40,000 for a Test and Rs. 1,85,000 for an ODI for the
matches played abroad.The Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL)
offered a more motivational monetary incentive to its cricketers in 2003. The
proclamation reads that the players would be given an additional $500 for each
win and that the match fees for Tests and ODIs which were $1750 and $1250
respectively would be enhanced by 50% in case the win is against the top four
teams of the world. The better the performance, the more the money.
Sports channels, entertainment channels
and advertising industry are raking in millions in the wake of higher viewership
as predilection for cricket has grown rapidly. Because of Englandís tour of
Pakistan, the viewers are enjoying the joint production of ARY Digital and Ten
Sports nowadays. It is because ARY Digital and Taj Television struck a joint
venture in 2003 for around $60m in order to attain the world telecast rights for
all international cricket played in Pakistan. During last tour of Indians to
Pakistan, Ten Sports was said to have earned over $100 million by selling
advertising spots. It sold 30-second spots for the series at $15,000. There were
approximately 366 such spots for each dayís cricket and the Indian tour lasted
for 20 days of cricket with 05 ODIs and three Test matches. This is to remember
that SET Max charged $4,500 for the same duration for the last Indo-Pak World
Cup match. Sony Entertainment Television, which has paid $255 million for the
satellite television rights, charges up to $6,000-$7,000 for a 30-second. The
channels charge more in case the match is between Pakistan and India. It depends
on the players also. If the players like Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Akhtar,
Inzamam-ul-Haq, Muhammad Yousuf, Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly and Rahul
Dravid, who are considered to keep the interest of the game alive, play then the
viewership is high.
The electronic revolution has helped
players, teams, satellite channels and the brands alike.
Cricketers like Abdul Hafeez Kardar,
Hanif Mohammad, Fazal Mahmood and Imtiaz Ahmed did not live in the material
world and were gratified with victories only, however today's Pakistani
cricketers are more successful in terms of name & fame than any highly
qualified Pakistani or a top bureaucrat. At present Inzamam-ul Haq, Muhammad
Yousuf, Abdul Razzaq, and Shoaib Akhtar are A-category cricketers so they
receive a monthly salary of 200,000 rupees. Players in the B and C category get
125,000 rupees 75,000 rupees a month respectively.
Another world cup, ICC Cricket World
Cup 2007, is approaching which will bring about another wave of interest in the
cricket crazy nation of South Asia. Inevitable commercialism wave will touch the