With the IPL safely behind us, let us look at the Club Vs Country debate dispassionately. We will focus on cricket, but learn generously from sports like football - which have been grappling with this issue for a lot longer. There are 2 primary questions to answer – 1. If a player has a conflict between a country game and a club game, what should he/she choose? 2. If the player has to miss playing in order to rest the body (an increasingly important aspect of modern professional sports), should he/she choose to rest country games or club games?
Alas, it is not a easy choice to make because of a few key reasons – playing for the country is considered patriotic (equating players to soldiers in some instances) thus making players feel like they are traitors if they choose club over country. On the other hand, players do make more money per game playing for a club – and it is hard to choose country over club and end up the poorer because of the choice. Let us face it – a professional sportsperson has a shelf life that is much shorter than in other professions. He/she has a responsibility to maximize earnings – just like the rest of us in all other professionals do regularly.
So where does the coin fall on this one? Here are my thoughts on this subject -
Let us face it – it is all about choices. Country gives you fame. Club gives you money and longevity. Players need both, obviously. Players should absolutely prioritize country over club, ONLY for really important tournaments. Like the World Cup or Olympics. As far as lesser tournaments and other tours are concerned, the players ought to decide for themselves. There is nothing patriotic about playing for India in an India Vs New Zealand 7 match one-day series. I will never hold it against a Gautam Gambhir if he choses to play for KKR and then skip the following Bangladesh series. The media and fans have to grow up and stop making a fuss about this. Simple as that.
Those are just my thoughts - what do you think?