Different strokes

first_imgHe is less than five-and-a-half feet tall, but that didn’t come in the way of Sunil Manohar Gavaskar taking on the fearsome West Indies pace quartet on his debut in 1971. With just a soft hat between his head and the 150-kph leather missiles aimed at him, Gavaskar redefined batting,He is less than five-and-a-half feet tall, but that didn’t come in the way of Sunil Manohar Gavaskar taking on the fearsome West Indies pace quartet on his debut in 1971. With just a soft hat between his head and the 150-kph leather missiles aimed at him, Gavaskar redefined batting not only for India but for the whole world. The first batsman to score 10,000 runs in Test cricket, his name has a long list of firsts attached to it. The first cricketer in India to create an agency to manage players’ business interests, the little master was also one of the first glamour boys of Indian cricket.And then there’s the other SG, who took the reins of the Indian team when even the most die-hard fan had given up hope. The match-fixing scandal in 2000 had many star casualties, including Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja. But there was no stopping the feisty Sourav Ganguly, as he transformed a bunch of no-name youngsters into world-beaters. Undeterred by failure and uncaring about protocol, the most important thing for him was victory, even if that meant annoying a certain Steve Waugh. Bengal Tiger or Lord Snooty, call him what you will, but his shirtlessness at Lords remains the iconic image of the resurgence of Indian cricket.The two SGs played in contrasting eras. While Gavaskar represents an era where cricket was a slow-paced, leisurely game, far away from the corporate world, Ganguly belongs to a time when the entire nation eats, drinks and sleeps cricket, dissecting every move its icons make in the middle, and off it. There is money everywhere, and the pressure of being successful is relentless. Here is how they see it.advertisementQ. Do you remember your first prize from the game of cricket? What was it? How did you feel?”Colonel C.K. Nayudu promoted Indian tea, Farokh Engineer did a Brylcreem ad much before I did my first commercial.”- Sunil Gavaskar**********************************”I got Rs 400 when I started playing for Ranji Trophy. In my first tour of Australia in 1991-92, I got Rs 30,000 for the entire series.” – Sourav GangulyGavaskar My first prize from the game of cricket was for the tennis ball cricket games that we played in our building compound in Mumbai. It was a bottle of lemonade shared by the eight players in the team that won the game. My uncle, the late Pramod Pandit, would offer that as an incentive to the team he captained. It was barely a sip or two but it still brings back great memories.Ganguly I think I got a man-of-the-match award in Orissa in an under-15 level game. They gave me a cricket bat for it. Obviously getting a cricket bat in those days and at such an age was very special.Q. When you played professional cricket for the first time, how much did you earn? How much did players earn as match fees in your time?Gavaskar Since we were employed by corporates we never actually earned a professional income. It was called allowance by the BCCI. I played for Mumbai at Rs 15 for a match and when I graduated to playing for India, I think, it was Rs 1,000 for the entire tour of the West Indies.Ganguly I got Rs 400 at the Ranji level when I started playing professional cricket. In my first tour of Australia in 1991-92, I got Rs 30,000 for the entire series.Q. What was the match fee you earned from your last match?Gavaskar The last Test I played in 1987 got me Rs 5,000 as match fee plus Rs 4,000 that went into the players’ benevolent fund.Ganguly I got Rs 4 lakh in the last Test I played two years ago.Q. Do you remember the first news published about you? How did you feel?Gavaskar The first time my name appeared in print as G. Sunil: 30 not out, for St. Xavier’s High School. I was a bit disappointed since there were plenty of Sunils and I wanted my surname to appear too. I guess it was a forerunner of things to come since even now, after so many years in the game, people still mispronounce my name.Ganguly I got a hundred against Orissa because of which my name appeared in a newspaper for the first time. I really felt on top of the world that day.Q. Was it easy for cricketers to get jobs during the time you were playing?Gavaskar If you were a good enough cricketer then you were likely to be picked by a corporate or a public enterprise like airlines, banks or the railways since there were plenty of inter-company tournaments. I struggled to get a job till I played for India and then Associated Cement offered me one.advertisementGanguly For both the questions my answer is yes. I was recruited by Tata Steel and the company offered me a top managerial position.Q. Did cricket help you in exploring other sources of income? If yes, how?Gavaskar Using players to promote a brand was a very new concept when I played for India but yes that came as extra income. Later, other opportunities like writing columns for newspapers and magazines and live commentary on television came along.Ganguly It surely helped in getting me endorsement deals for various products.Q. Do you think the media has played a big role in making the game of cricket a very lucrative profession?Gavaskar Yes, both print and electronic media have played a huge role in making cricket popular. The Hindi and local language commentary spread the game to the interiors of the country and we are reaping the rewards of that with so many players from non-metros playing successfully for India now.Ganguly I would say it has helped only partly. Another important factor is the performance of the national team as cricket is widely followed in India.Q. You were one of the earliest Indian cricketers to be featured in a commercial. Why do you think you were chosen to endorse the brand?Gavaskar The popular perception is that I was the first cricketer to be used in a commercial. Actually, Colonel C.K. Nayudu promoted Indian tea and Farokh Engineer did a Brylcreem advertisement much before I did my first commercial. I don’t know why they chose me.Q. How much did you earn from your first endorsement? And from your last endorsement during your playing career?Gavaskar It’s hard to remember but I think I received Rs 2,000 for my first commercial. The last commercial I did when I was playing got me less than Rs 10 lakh.Q. How many endorsement deals did you get during your playing career?Gavaskar Maybe less than a dozen and they were not in the same year.Ganguly I have endorsed about 30 brands during my playing career.Q. In 1985, you created PMG, India’s first sports marketing company. Why? How has it changed Indian sports?Gavaskar PMG came into being when my then partner Sumedh Shah, who was a director in an advertising company, approached me to do a commercial. I was too shy to tell him how much money I wanted. Shah said to me, “If you, even after being the Indian captain, are so shy, how will the other players behave?” He then asked me if I had heard of IMG, the managers/agents for players like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, and who negotiated on behalf of these players. He thought that there was scope for something similar in India and that’s how PMG came into being. There are many more organisations like PMG now and they have helped the players to concentrate on their game while leaving commercial matters in their agents’ hands. Apart from PMG, my organisation Champs Foundation has been giving monthly cheques since 1999 to more than half a dozen sportspersons who have hit hard times.advertisementQ. Do you think easy money has spoilt new generation cricketers?Gavaskar I don’t think so. Maybe those who know their limitations as players may not work as hard as those who have ambitions to be recognised as top cricketers.Ganguly No, not at all. Otherwise, how is India doing so well in recent times?Q. Indian cricketers were not paid enough during your time. But do you think even the current players are paid enough, considering the amount of money the Indian cricket board makes annually?Gavaskar The players today get a 26 per cent share of the revenue from the bcci and that is a handy sum as can be seen by the latest gradation contracts and match fees announced by the BCCI recently.Ganguly I think the term enough is always debatable.Q. If advertisements and corporate involvements are banned, do you think cricket will still remain the craze as it is today in this country?Gavaskar Yes it will for even in the days when there were no advertisements and corporate involvement, the game was still very popular across the country.Ganguly Why should it be banned in first place? I believe cricket would have been as popular as it is now even if there was no corporate involvement and product endorsements by cricketers.Q. Sunny, you acted in a couple of films. What prompted you to flirt with the glamour world? The acting bug or the potential money?Gavaskar I grew up in a locality where we used to stage plays during festivals. The guys from the locality along with the elders would actually construct the temporary stage with props and sound design and also act in them. So when there was a long break between internationals and the film offers came along, I took them as they did not clash with any match or training session. They were guest roles in the films so the money was either nothing or peanuts.Q. Sourav, you judged a dance reality show and are currently hosting a quiz show. What attracts you to tv? Ganguly The quiz show is very exciting but the dance reality show wasn’t at all, as I have no idea about dance. There are certain quality programmes going on in television, that’s the reason I was drawn to the medium.last_img

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