Today, nearly $11,000,000 was spent. In one garish ceremony the world’s monetary troubles were neatly summed up. 108 players were listed, as slaves at the Forum, having their virtues paraded as they gazed sheepishly at the riches on offer. Base prices of at least $20,000 were the only requirements, with the majority of these being exceeded.
As far as ostentatious displays of personal wealth go, purchasing Glenn Maxwell for $1 million is up there with the most nauseating And as the auction unfolded I found myself becoming increasingly sad and disillusioned with it all as some of the richest men in India spent their money on one of the wealthiest sporting tournaments in the world.
The irony of this amount of money being splashed out in India is unlikely to be lost on many. But unlike most ironies, which induce a bit of a laugh, I just sighed, and clicked off the website. I couldn’t stand watching it anymore, as men and women, some of whom are worth well over a billion dollars threw their cash around the room like a child flinging their dinner across the kitchen table. Seemingly not caring where it landed, the owners bought some of the best young cricketers around, whilst discarding others.
Just for transparency, here are some figures that searching online can provide of a few owners of IPL franchises:
- The Mumbai Indians are owned by Mukesh Ambani who has a personal wealth of $23.7 billion, acquired through his conglomerate company Reliance Industries.
- The GMR Group, a construction business, own the Delhi Daredevils and are worth $2.6 billion.
- The Kolkata Knight Riders are owned by Sharukh Khan and husband and wife team Jay Mehta andJuhi Chawla. Khan is worth $600 million whilst Mehta and Chawla are worth over $35 million. Together they bought KKR for $75.09 million.
- Chennai Super Kings are owned by India Cements. The director of India Cements is N. Srinivasan. Srinivasan is the head of the BCCI. The vice chairman of India Cements is MS Dhoni. MS Dhoni captains CSK and India. India Cements are worth over $646 million.
- Like KKR, the Kings XI Punjab are owned by more than one person – Preity Zinta, her ex-boyfriend Ness Wadia, Dabur and many others. Dabur is a healthcare company, a healthcare company that 4 years ago reported a wealth of over $300 million.
I could go on, but I think I’ve made the point I was trying to get across. These people are insanely wealthy, and they are only interested in making themselves wealthier by utilising a cricket tournament that attracts huge investors and sponsors. The most sickening of these owners is Dabur. A healthcare company that has spent millions on their team rather than spending millions feeding and caring for the most needy and impoverished people in India. The new urban elite and increasingly influential and affulent urban middle class disregard the poor. And as the rich get richer, the poor get poorer.
I remember the first t20 International in 2005. Played between Australia and New Zealand, the Kiwis wore strips similar to their famous 1970s beige outfits. They grew moustaches, and styled their hair to match the fashion of the time. When it became apparent that the Australians were going to win, they started messing about – Glenn McGrath pretended to underarm a delivery, to recreate that infamous incident years ago. When he aborted his run up, umpire Billy Bowden showed him a mock red card.
After this first match, the format became more popular and mainstream on the international stage. Yet there was still an overriding sense of fun, excitement and novelty. Players were given microphones to talk with the commentators and treated it as pure entertainment for the crowd. Most importantly, the format worked because it was not overdone.
The IPL took a good thing, exaggerated it to the nth degree and ruined it with money. Money comes first and cricket a distant second. It is the way with the BCCI, an awkward, greedy corporation. If they are allowed to continue without reprimand they could spell the end for all cricket, not just t20.