All the SA marquee players and team owners/officials, flanked by CSA president Chris Nenzani (far right) and CEO Haroon Lorgat (far left). Photo: @inspiranti (Hemant Dua, Johannesburg team official) via Twitter

The iconic sports movie Jerry Maguire, starring Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr, gave us one significant line: “Show Me The Money.” They are the only four words that truly matter in the business of sport. Whether the money is crooked, crafty or straight up clean, the bottom line is the key difference in the end.

Forget loyalty, or love, or even trophies. Show them the money, and they will stay and play until the sun goes down. Ask any sportsman, and the thing that gets them out of bed these days is the bottom dollar.

Last week, for an entire Sunday, lives across South African cricket were being changed. One by one, players of varying skill and experience saw their name pop up and they suddenly had contracts that would pay them their annual salary in a matter of weeks.

The cricketing landscape has shifted, and though they may be cast to the scrapheap of our memories, one must not forget the handful of cricketers who thought they could make easier money, and saw fit to fix.

They bowled and batted poorly, dragged down team-mates and coaches, just to make a quick buck. Of course, they have since been found out, and you can only imagine their state of minds last weekend, as they saw people who were behind them in the queue suddenly walking off into the sunset with contracts that will change lives - legitimately.

The quick bucks that came through the grubby mitts of Gulam Bodi, onto the likes of Thami Tsolekile and Lonwabo Tstotsobe, now look like peanuts compared to the thousands of dollars that their mates will be getting out of the T20 Global League.

Never mind what any sweet-talking, leather-jacketed lout with a wad tells you, there are no shortcuts to success. And, if someone tries to convince you otherwise, stay well away. That is the lesson that will have hit home to the infamous few who went to the dark side.

There are some whispers that the format of the Global League, without semi-finals, may be open to manipulation, as players in teams who are out of the running could look to make easy money. Surely, having seen the repercussions that face those on the wrong side of the law, only a fool would dare walk down that road.

Even Kolpak players are out in the cold with this one. Most found themselves competing with foreign stars for places, and they came up short. They expected to waltz into easy money during their English off-season, but it hasn’t proved to be the case. It turns out that not everyone can have their bread buttered on both sides, and some may be reconsidering their Kolpak status for the future.

For those who prioritise it, the T20 Global League can be a pension of real significance. Naturally, the shortest format provides the longest shelf-life. Just look at how many late 30-year olds and even 40 year-olds are still plying their trade in the Indian Premier League.

So be it. So long as it is above board, cricket and cricketers will be the winners here. The game will grow, and there will be further opportunities for those at the back of the pipeline.

These are exciting times, in many ways, for those who have played cricket’s hardships with a straight bat.

Here, suddenly, is a lifeline, a parachute payment for all. Heck, it may even appease the constant upheaval about transformation and all that it entails. Because, in the T20 Global League, everyone gets a slice of pie. Rookies, warhorses and even schoolboys have a chance.

And, from there, the IPL and other windows of similar opportunity can swing open.

Nearly 100 local players have deals outside their professional contracts, and if that is not showing them the money, then nothing ever will. Even Jerry Maguire would be proud of that.


Sunday Independent

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