Ishan Kishan (left), then the Under-19 India captain, with erstwhile head coach Rahul Dravid during his youth cricket days. Mumbai Indians have won him in the IPL auction with a staggering $ 2 million price tag. Image Credit: PTI file

Kolkata: The discussion which dominates the IPL auction - year after year - is whether the mega bucks deals handed out to the young Indian cricketers often destroy their focus on the game and in turn, have an adverse effect on their career. It’s no different this time with Ishan Kishan, a 23-year-old small town boy, leading the way and several uncapped players also striking it rich.

The second day saw two members of the Under-19 World Cup winning squad, allrounder Raj Angad Bawa and Rajvardhan Hangargekar hitting the jackpot when they were picked up by Punjab Kings and Chennai Super Kings, respectively.

The hefty price tags of IPL, which is often followed by the cricketers being signed up by portfolio managers, is the name of the game and there is a perception that it’s the bane of the modern Indian cricketer . At least three brand managers that Gulf News have spoken to have rubbished such a sweeping idea, though they agree that the cricketers need some help in handling of finance and right career choices - and that’s where they come in.

Tuhin Mishra of Baseline Ventures, which handles the accounts of the likes of Prithvi Shaw, Bhubaneshwar Kumar, Smriti Mandhana and Jemima Rodrigues apart from a host of successful Indian Olympians including former world champion shuttler PV Sindhu, feels that the onus is on the cricketer to realise that it’s the performance which will speak at the end of the day. ‘‘From my experience, I can say that the family can play a big supporting role to the young cricketer to ensure that the focus remains in cricket while there is an overall development of personality as well,’’ Mishra told Gulf News.

Tuhin Mishra

Is the danger stronger for those who graduate soon after a brilliant show in the Under-19 ranks rather than a regular international? ‘‘See, the likes of Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan, Prithvi Shaw or Shubman Gill have all graduated from the Under-19 days. There is actually a quantum leap from junior level to the seniors and that’s where some of them are often found wanting, but it’s sweeping to say that big IPL contracts or endorsements distract them,’’ he said.

However, Varun Chopra of Medallin Sports, a Delhi-based sports management company which handled the likes of Unmukt Chand, Hanuma Vihari or Mithali Raj before, sees the need of caution and educating the young cricketers. ‘‘There is a problem for the players who are breaking through from the junior ranks. When they are developing their skill sets at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) as a 17 or 18-year-old, it’s all about cricket. However, once they are confronted with the world of IPL contracts, endorsements or digital deals, they often find themselves at sea,’’ Chopra said.

Varun Chopra

As a remedial measure, Chopra suggests that the BCCI can adopt a three-fold formula to look after these young cricketer’s interests. ‘‘For one, they can educate the cricketers about career-management like the way they sensitise them for anti-corruption etc. They should also advise on financial matters and finally, the board can look to regulate the agents looking after the business interests of cricketers,’’ he said.


Neha Mathur, founder & CEO of Wordswork LLP, a leading sports communications firm with Delhi Capitals among their clients said the perception of big money destroying the focus of the cricketers is a clear case of over-simplication.

Neha Mathur

“I don’t believe this perception is correct as a blanket assumption. Every athlete wants to be successful in their respective sport, not just monetarily, but also in terms of winning competitions and other variables that define a successful sportsperson. (Rishabh) Pant is a prime example of that dedication besides many other young athltes that I have personally worked with, who are extremely dedicated to the everyday grind of their sport, starting from training, to fitness, to preparing for big events.

‘‘On the contrary, the more success these young athletes achieve, their drive and hunger to bring more sporting glory to the nation, and/or to their franchises increases further. I have observed this to be the case in most instances,” she added.