June 27 - July 3, 2011

Some specific developments in last three years involving cricketers Shoaib Akhtar, Muhammad Yousuf, Younis Khan and Shahid Afridi triggered a debate in some quarters for forming Pakistan Cricketers Association to safeguard the rights of the players. All four suffered allegedly at the hands of cricket establishment Pakistan Cricket Board for various reasons. Shoaib Akhtar nicknamed as enfant terrible of Pakistan got involved in a tiff with the PCB on discipline ground and the other three Younis, Yousuf and Afridi also had difference only because the PCB tried to impose its discipline on the players.

The four were miffed with the PCB only because their engagements were hurting their financial interest. They knew that under the contract they all were employees of the PCB and had to follow the rules of the PCB. But, all of them tried to use the media to challenge the PCB in the hope that their celebrity status and media support would corner the PCB. But, things did not turn out the way they wanted and they had to understand that they would not have everything all their ways.

But the PCB tussle with the players who were disciplined in different manner did start a debate over the formation of Pakistan Cricketers Association that could fight for the rights of the players.

For the cricketers they only had two rights which they want to defend forcefully. The first is selection in the national team and the other is maximum financial benefit they could squeeze from the PCB.

The players had always argued that the CB earns all the money because they play and perform. If they were not there the money would stop flowing. Players could be partially but not totally right.

The PCB has to look after many more things than organizing international cricket which is the major means of generating revenue. Organizing or playing in international cricket is just one part of PCB responsibility.

Organizing and promoting the game at grass root level and at domestic level, creating playing facilities and maintenance of cricket ground is as important as playing international cricket.

After cricket turned into money churning industry half educated cricketers at international level all over the world are getting money they could never imagine earning from the education they had.

The biggest concern of international cricketers or of those who were fighting to get back into international fold is to earn as much money as possible. If they could stay at international level for ten years they could get money that would serve their five generations. But if their career is cut short because of their exclusion from the national team they would be at a tremendous loss. They would fight back like injured tiger to get back into the national team to serve their own financial interest. The players may speak that they wanted to serve their country by playing or getting a place in the team but the fact is that it is money that is more important for them.

Pakistani players who had played English County Cricket when there was not much money in international cricket become multimillionaire in ten years time. Mostly coming from middle level income group, the cricketers could earn good money for playing in county cricket.

There is so much money now flowing into cricket that six cricketers who joined Indian Cricket League earned 30 million Indian rupee just in one year.

So, the questions boils down to the query would formation of Cricketers Association would serve players financial cause. Because there is no other cause bigger than money.

Before we go further it is important to know the definition of an association. The association is formed by group of individuals who voluntarily enter into an agreement to accomplish a purpose.

What will be the main purpose of an associations if it is formed. Would those purposes be different from those laid down in the PCB constitution. Player's association's purposes could not be training umpires, statisticians, scorers, maintenance of ground, creation of new facilities, setting up of domestic schedule promoting women's cricket and the game at grass root level. The PCB as the parent body controlling the game is devoted to carry out all those functions.

The players could only give their in put to make the system better and more effective. The PCB has already employed cricketers who are serving in various areas.

The only area which the player could concentrate on is the welfare aspect of the past, present and future cricketers. They could on behalf of the cricketers negotiate contract with the PCB, advise the PCB to create a funds for the welfare of past cricketers and any cricketer who needed financial help.

The cricketers association had to define who is a cricketer and who would be eligible to get benefits. They could operate only through the PCB or becoming part of the PCB system. Once they join the PCB they would have to maintain discipline and work for the good of the PCB and the players.

Cricketers Association if set up would not survive in a country like Pakistan and is bound to break up in a number of splinter groups and the grand idea of having a body serving all the cricketers would just collapse.

If those who are calling for setting up of Cricketers Association are serious, they should sit down and start registering cricketers. Each person claiming himself as cricketers and willing to join the association had to pay an amount to get himself/herself register with the proposed association and pay a monthly fee which would be sued to set up an office of the association.

It would take years to complete the process and ultimately it would be an exercise in futility. The current PCB system is good enough which engages cricketers to run the game. Cricketers interested in the welfare of cricketers should ask the PCB to launch an Endowment Fund for the cricketers and start registering the cricketers who would be benefited by the fund. Sindh Government has already launched two Endowment Fund one for artists and one for sportspersons. Cricketers should aim at the welfare of the cricketers than playing politics.