Money often costs too much, said Ralph Emerson. True.
That cost, as Emerson put it, have both positive and negative effects. It is a known fact that behind most of the crimes and most of the divides there are three main things: money, woman and land.
The same divide has been created within the group of Champions trophy winners. It was bound to happen.
The Champions Trophy winning team has been showered with not only praise but with rewards and they deserved every bit of it. Besides the glittering trophy and a rise in the ODI rankings, the squad also got the prize money of 2.2 million dollars (around 220 million rupees). Pakistan Cricket Board confirmed that the whole prize money will go to the players as the Board had already received 125,000 dollars as participation money from the International Cricket Council .
Pakistan Cricket Board itself announced Rs one million to each player as reward for winning the elusive title. Next came the prime minister, who despite being embroiled in a corruption case investigation (along with his family) himself, was accused of being a spendthrift when he announced Rs. ten million for each player. Critics very rightly put it as “astronomical” and suggested that the reward should have been lesser as this is public tax amount and should have been spent on setting up of health facilities in the wake of scores of fatalities in an oil tanker blitz near Bahawalpur.
The Army chief, as promised, reiterated his plans to send the players for Umrah. It is not known what the Naval Chief awarded to the players. May be a cruise into the deep sea, but that would not have been an attractive proposition.
But the seed of discord were due to be sown soon. The first incident was very wisely averted by Sarfraz when the BOL Network announced ten million rupees for the squad, with a lion’s share to the skipper. But Sarfraz put his foot down and demanded that all the squad players should get the equal share.
But the controversy started to raise its ugly head in the Bahria Town function. The property wizards awarded one million to each player but were more generous towards skipper Sarfraz Ahmed and opener Fakhar Zaman. Zaman had famously scored a hundred in the all-important final of the Champs trophy, that too against bitter rivals, India. So Sarfraz and Fakhar were given one canal plot each.
Most of the players were hoping that they will also get plot from the property tycoon. But it was not to be. The murmurs had started during the Bahria Town function.
The disparity was once again evident in the Hashoo Group function where Sarfraz was awarded 0.5 million rupees while the rest of the players were 0.3 million. On Thursday some of the players had their patience run out. The Centaurus Mall owners awarded Sarfraz a one canal plot, Rs 500,000 to Fakhar while the rest of the players were paid 200,000. That irked the players as they boycotted the function, refused to be part of the group photo and left the function on the pretext of mismanagement.
Pakistan Cricket Board is said to be upset at the happenings and is due to speak with the players. It is the governing body which should made the players realize that they cannot demand equal share everywhere. But the other more pertinent point is that should the players be made part of every function. Isn’t it enough? If every other organization is allowed to host a celebratory function things will go from bad to worse.
If you believe a former Pakistan coach then the dressing room conversation used to revolve around properties, plazas, plots and cars. Another source in the Indian team recently told me that when he asked Virat Kohli about what he discusses with Pakistan players when they meet, VK pointed out that the conversation is mostly other than cricket.
Rewards will not stop, but they come with achievements.
Pakistan have won a prestigious tournament. They now have every title (50 overs World Cup, World Twenty20 and Champions Trophy) and a direct qualification in the 2019 World Cup. We should savour the achievement and not spoil the occasion. The unity of the players should not be allowed to be divided by money.
Pakistan cricket has many other problems to address.