Virtually unknown Australian allrounder Glenn Maxwell has now become a household name in India thanks to the latest IPL auction in Chennai on Sunday. Maxwell is the latest to join the millionaires' club because of Mumbai Indians' gamble on his talent.
The rookie South African allrounder Chris Morris was honest enough to admit that he had never seen so much money in his life after Chennai Super Kings spent $625,000 on him at the 2013 players' auction. It is easy to get carried away in the noise of all this million-dollar riches by cricketers. But everyone is not that lucky. Sometimes, all the hype in the auction is not matched by the reality faced by many of the players including the icons of international cricket.
It is shocking to know that the defunct IPL franchise Kochi Tuskers Kerala has still not paid 35% of what is due to its former players. Needless to say these players are wary to come on record because of obvious reasons, but they are a frustrated lot. A key member of the Australian Cricketers' Association has acknowledged that the "Kochi Tuskers Kerala's payment is a concern" despite the reluctance to come on record.
This correspondent spoke to a range of players - Indians as well as internationals - over the last couple days and they were unanimous in acknowledging that Mumbai and Chennai Super Kings are two of the most professional IPL franchises as far as payments of players are concerned. However, the likes of Deccan Chargers, Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore do not enjoy such reputations among the players.
Former Sri Lankan offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan, who has played for three IPL franchises in the last five years, did not hide his frustration. "Yes, I have not been paid by the Kochi Tuskers Kerala. When you don't get paid by a franchise after such a long time it is always a concern," he said over the phone when contacted by this correspondent.
Murali, Test cricket's leading wicket-taker with 800 victims, is still active in Twenty20 franchise cricket across the globe. Former India player Maninder Singh is concerned that if legends like Murali are treated this way, it will affect overall image of the IPL. Maninder has an interesting suggestion, though. "Why doesn't BCCI take care of such matters? All the money to the players can be routed through the BCCI. In this scenario, franchise will have no scope to manipulate the payment to the players," he says.
Ultimately, players sign on the dotted line for a franchise because they believe that the most rich and powerful board in the game - the BCCI - will ensure that they get their money without any hassle. Twenty20 tournaments in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan don't excite players as much as the IPL and the main reason is big money and its timely payment. If the payment issue with Kerala is not resolved soon, players will be forced to say that all that glitters in IPL is certainly not gold.