Fruitful Kiwis

What world cricket should learn from Ewen Chatfield

Written by The Indian Express | Published:February 28, 2009 12:12 am

The world of Ewen Chatfield is far,far removed from the big-money glitz of live auctions. Half a world away from the T20 leagues,and two-and-some decades ago,a team that contained cricketing legends like Sir Richard Hadlee and Martin Crowe took as its mascot,instead,the everyman who partnered the exceptional,Hadlee’s fellow-quick Ewen Chatfield,resplendent in shaggy hair and moustache,trundling in consistently for over after over. And today,after 43 Tests,a hundred-plus wickets and a niggardly economy rate,he drives a taxi for Corporate Cabs Limited of Wellington.

His successors in New Zealand cricket have just won two T20s against India; one of them,the magnificent Brendon McCullum,is one of the most valuable players in the Indian Premier League. Many Kiwis play in the IPL and ICL; indeed,the Black Caps suffered more than most by the outlawing of ICL players,with nine of their best gone.

International cricket has lost for ever the sight of Shane Bond steaming in,getting unsuspected pace and bounce from dying wickets by bending his fragile back,of Craig McMillan’s extraordinary,effortless,steely-eyed hitting. That McMillan and Bond should have made this choice isn’t surprising; like cab-driving Chatfield,McMillan had tried being a car salesman and Bond a policeman — while they were still playing. McMillan,the one year he wasn’t given a central contract,felt that without quitting,he couldn’t feed his young family.

This is a reason to be glad of the IPL,and to hope that other similar tournaments be mainstreamed — and that boundaries of nationality and monopoly not continue to be used to constrain individual cricketers’ income-generating potential. Indian fans deserve well-fought international cricket,with great,colourful characters. Chatfield was one such; he speaks today of his situation with surpassing grace,but the cricket world should allow today’s Chatfields to earn more.

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