The Pink Slip in the corporate world is a dreaded written or verbal message that one has lost one’s job and it’s time to move on. In cricket, pink would naturally denote ‘Night Cricket’ and ‘Slip’ as an important field position, especially when playing cricket at dusk.
Cricket can be a sport; however, it gradually turns into a big business. The growth of the digital world has brought about a revolution in the way gaming is followed. A cricketer being the centerpiece of this gigantic change became the king’s pawn or a story vice versa.
The way cricket issues have changed can be seen when India’s current cricket coach Rahul Dravid is the one who delivered a Pink Slip to Wriddhiman Saha. He informed him that his days as a Test cricketer were over and it was time for him to retire. Saha, like many second-choice wicket-keepers who have suffered in the past, remained in the shadow of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He was later replaced by the flamboyant Rishabh Pant. His last stint in the test match against world champion team New Zealand was a punch in immense pain as he had a severe neck ache. Saha played 40 Test matches for India and certainly deserved a better and more honorable way of getting the exit message.
Amazingly, Coach was the messenger who delivered the Pink Slip not only to Wriddhiman Saha but also to some of the other aging mainstays. We understand that there comes a time when you have to ‘hang up your crampons’ but that a coach rather than a selector informing us is not the right way to do it. The primary function of any coach is to supervise, motivate, encourage, advise and guide his players. The trainer is the one who gathers the selected team into a fighting unit and extracts the best from each of them.
The realm of picking and dropping a player is the responsibility of the selectors and it would have been prudent for Rahul Dravid to avoid being turned into an ax man.
Also, interestingly, Wriddhiman Saha mentioned that the President of BCCI gave him assurances that he would not be fired as long as he was in charge of BCCI. It was quite astonishing and disturbing for someone to learn why someone of Sourav Ganguly’s caliber should get involved in such commentary. Saha, after making these allegations, was allegedly threatened and put under pressure by a journalist, whose name he refuses to divulge. However, the cricket fraternity is buzzing with whose name the person is. However, as the saying goes, “silence is golden”.
Kudos should be given to Saha for revealing what he went through. Virat Kohli once fell victim to a similar exchange of words and it was felt that India’s top batsman was mentally affected by it.
Like all the billions of people living in our universe, today’s cricketers also have access to transparent digital media and the instant world. Professionalism in all areas of operations has become important in the functioning of every cricket board. Australian cricket experienced this, when a Pink Slip was presented to its cricket coach, Justin Langer. His overbearing and headstrong opinions and attitude were not appreciated by the current batch of Australian players. He therefore received marching orders. The cricket fraternity was full of stories about it.
It is an example of the direction in which the world is rapidly changing and how the younger generation perceives and thinks about its life and its future. The old school of thought gave birth to people who wanted a well-rounded and fulfilling personal existence. The corporate and business world is experiencing attrition and employees are now insisting on spending quality time with their families as well as taking time for themselves.
In cricket you can see a similar attitude and the bio-bubble has again played its part. In the past, it would have been unheard of for players to take a break, as Kohli and Pant did recently.
Cricket will go through a drastic change in the attitude of cricketers towards the sport.
We feel that the various T20 leagues around the world will make Test cricket redundant. The earnings of cricketers have increased significantly due to the fact that they have played in the shorter and limited cricket circus. The recent IPL auction was a good indicator of where a young cricketer of tomorrow will go.
A slam-bang take on how they play the game and live their lives seems to be written in bold. The Pink Slip might have been a dreaded word earlier, but it won’t be the one that worries them. Young people will find other paths to follow in today’s fast-paced world.
It is hoped that Wriddhiman Saha, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ishant Sharma and many others approaching their late 30s realize their farewell; the Pink Slip has arrived.
(Yajurvindra Singh is a former Indian cricketer)