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K.R. NAYAR COLUMN: Today’s cricketers need self-improvement programmes

Fame and money are making players feel they are above the game and rules of life

Gulf News

Statements from Steve Smith and David Warner during their press conferences in Australia while admitting their mistake in the ball tampering episode need to be taken seriously by cricket authorities.

Smith said that ‘he will regret his act for the rest of his life and that he has committed a serious error of judgement’ while Warner said ‘he will, in the coming days, look at how this happened and seek out advice and expertise to make serious changes to himself’.

These are words not from ordinary cricketers but two of the finest batsmen in the game. If these two players can commit such a major mistake, one can very well imagine how easily a rising cricketer can slip from glory to the gutter.

Cricket boards, while punishing their players for their wrong doing, should all join together and carry out a study on why cricketers indulge in such unsporting acts. David Richardson, the ICC Chief Executive Officer, in his recent column, talked of a number of poor player behaviour in recent weeks, which included ugly sledging, send-offs, dissent against umpires’ decisions, a walk-off and ball tampering.

All these have happened because cricketers don’t seem to remember that they are sportsmen and must possess certain noble qualities. When that cardinal principle is ignored, a cricketer commits a mistake and then regrets it.

Fame and its associated glory brings huge financial benefits, but only few are able to maintain their poise. Cricket boards should make it mandatory for cricketers to attend self-improvement programmes regularly. That would help them manage pressures and fame alike.

Many times I have witnessed poor behaviour by some international cricketers’ with fans. Smith, during his confession, stressed that cricket is a great game. Cricket has remained so because of the way it is played. If cricketers had indulged in unruly behaviour on the field, surely the game would have lost its greatness long ago. It is the responsibility of every cricketer to ensure that cricket remains as a gentleman’s game.

It is the race to be the top cricketing nation and the associated financial benefits that has forced Smith and company to tamper the ball. Hereafter wins and loses should not be the lone criteria in grading the top team in the world. The number of offences committed by the team or players should also be taken into account and points deducted while calculating the ranking of a team.

Cricket leagues around the world have made many ordinary cricketers into millionaires. This cash flow could give players the feeling of being above the game as well as above the rules of life. Hence cricket boards should hereafter accept that common sense is not common and players must be taught that!