When Gamechanger Sports Ventures started in October 2011, we (that is my colleague Prantik and me) made a resolution to not write on any sport itself, and to focus only on the business, legal and administrative aspects of sport. The reason was simple, there are so many websites, newspapers, magazines and blogs focusing on sport. Cricket, which is the sport that is dearest to both Prantik and me, has gazillions of experts who are way more qualified to write on the sport than either of us! We figured that people who wanted to read about cricket went to sites such as ESPNCricinfo, Yahoo Cricket and CricketNext. We felt that our core competence lies in our understanding of sports business, sports law and social media marketing; and that we needed to stay focused on what we know; so that we could create a community that purely discussed the business, legal and social media aspects of sport!
Yesterday though, was an emotional day for millions of Indian cricket fans. So much so, that I could not help straying from our above-stated objectives, and attempting to pen a short tribute to one of India’s greatest cricketers, Rahul Dravid! Over the years, sports writers across the globe, as also his cricketing colleagues, have literally exhausted their vocabulary while describing Dravid, the cricketer and Dravid, the person. A sprinkling of adjectives have been used to describe him: “Intense”, “Immaculate”, “Unassuming”, “Hardworking”, “Ultimate Team Man”, “Gritty”, and “Humble” are just a few in the long list of superlatives that Dravid has evoked in his 16-year career as an international cricketer. All I can say is that I totally endorse these views. Even if- I only followed him as an ordinary cricket fan, who has seen him from a distance, and not as a cricket pundit who may have seen him from closer quarters! Thank you, Rahul, for instilling these virtues in so many people across the world! I can’t help but feel that Cricket will be poorer without Dravid and I only hope that the legacy that Dravid leaves behind is something that will be properly understood and preserved by the BCCI; and by successive generations of players who don the India colours.
I was amongst the fortunate few who were present at the Chinnaswamy Stadium when Dravid formally announced his retirement from international cricket and domestic cricket. I was keen to know Dravid’s post-retirement plans. However, being the shy person that Dravid is, he chose to respond to queries on his post-retirement plans with a dead bat! A true Wall indeed! He said he had not yet thought about it and that he would only do so in June, once the IPL had been done and dusted.
Yet, I just cannot stop wondering what a person of his stature will choose to do when the time comes in June! For a man who embodies so many superlative attributes, I am sure there will be an ocean of opportunities that will present themselves to him. A career in cricket administration perhaps? After all, while Rahul’s willow did not win the day for India in Australia, Rahul the Thinker played one of his finest innings when he delivered the 2011 Bradman Oration. And what an innings that was, an innings where he displayed a remarkable clarity of thought in how he saw the future of cricket, and equally, a superb sense of history.
Just about any large corporate house will be happy to make Dravid an offer, won’t they? If the BCCI has its priorities in the right place, they will just not let a prized jewel like Dravid walk away, and would hope to benefit from his services in some form. They had a chance with Anil Kumble at the helm of the NCA, but they seem to have frittered it away! What will they do with Dravid? Perhaps, he may choose to chart a course that is completely different from any charted by his other peers! Perhaps, he may want to take a break completely from anything cricket for some time? Like his esteemed teammate Anil Kumble mentioned at the press conference, Dravid will need to manage the demands that will be made for his time.
So, I thought of taking a peek into the post-retirement lives of some of Indian and world cricket’s biggest legends and observing whether they could offer any clues into the direction that Dravid may possibly take, come June! While most cricketers have stayed connected to the sport and made significant contributions through their involvement in cricket administration, commentary, writing and coaching, there are also those who have had an active public life (not connected only to cricket) after high-profile cricketing careers. Here’s a look at some of the more entrepreneurial cricketers.
Glenn McGrath: Having experienced the pain of seeing his wife Jane McGrath courageously battle breast cancer before she passed away in June 2008, Glenn and Jane McGrath formed what has become one of Australia’s most respected and recognised charities, the McGrath Foundation. Glenn McGrath is now the Chairman and Co-Founder of the McGrath Foundation, which is doing some incredible work in the field of breast cancer support and awareness. The McGraths were of the belief that every Australian family experiencing breast cancer should have access to the support of a breast care nurse. Hence their mission is to fund McGrath Breast Care Nurses in communities right across Australia and to increase breast awareness in young women. Today, the McGrath Foundation is considered to be one of Australia’s leading breast cancer support organisations, with over 10,000 Australian families supported by 71 McGrath Breast Care Nurses nationally in the last three years.
Steve Waugh: set up the Steve Waugh Foundation, which is committed to a coordinated approach to the service, identification, treatment and research of rare diseases, and whose avowed objective is to improve the quality of life of children affected by rare diseases.
Anil Kumble: Currently serving as the President of the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA), he has also co-founded Tenvic, which is offering (i) structured coaching to help children excel in a sport of their choice; (ii) Training and mentoring services for businesses and sportspeople; and (iii) insights and ideas to help brands better leverage sport in their marketing. Although his dual role has attracted some controversy, the Tenvic initiative is definitely a further step in professionalizing the approach towards sport, and the market for sport, in India.
Matthew Hayden: Founded a company called The Hayden Way, which promotes a lifestyle centred on community and family, social responsibility and sustainability through the celebration of sport, recreation and leisure pursuits. In Hayden’s words, he subscribes to “the theory ‘make your vocation, your vacation” and his company is attempting to bring together all of his passions in life: “family, food, travel, fishing, cricket and surfing.” Interesting!!
Sunil Gavaskar: Omnipresent Television Commentator, Member of the IPL Governing Council, and promoter of PMG, India’s first sports promotion/marketing company. In 2010, PMG made its first foray into the player representation sector, when it signed up Virender Sehwag.
And last but not the least, who can forget Imran Khan, whose political graph is on the ascendancy, with many in Pakistan tipping him to be the next Prime Minister of Pakistan. While his political career may be chequered and controversial, many people may recollect that Imran he had actually announced his retirement after the 1987 World Cup. However, he came out of retirement to play cricket until he held the 1992 World Cup aloft- only because he felt that playing cricket would keep him visible across the globe and help him raise funds to build Pakistan’s first ever cancer hospital, dedicated to the memory of his mother, Shaukat Khanum.
Any guesses on which of the above paths Dravid may take? Or will there be a completely unique and distinctive Dravid Way?