Pujara: Market role model sans market acceptability

You need to be a Cheteshwar Pujara in this market, a Steve Smith won’t click. Reads the headline of an Economic Times market write up, released shortly after India’s Test triumph at Dharamsala. The victory that assured multiple gains – the series win, the ICC Test Champions mace, an ICC reward of Rs 6.6 crore for finishing as the No. 1 Test team – for the Virat Kolhi-led boys was assured as much by Cheteshwar Pujara as the man of the series Ravindra Jadeja.

The man who aptly fits in the bill to describe the success factor for market players – Pujara – has little acceptance for himself in the market. Observe the market experts, it’s important to play like Pujara and not like Smith, the highest scorer of the just concluded Gavaskar-Border series, to succeed and survive in the Stock Market. The notion is derived from the reliability, confidence, credibility and assurance Pujara brings to the business.

But, is there an acceptability in the business world for the man himself, whose traits are the essence for survival in the biz world. The man to finish as the second best run aggregator in a Test season, the man who stands ahead of Virat Kohli on the ICC rankings Table as a Test batsman, would know the answer is a big, unfortunate ‘NO’. Consistency in headlines and visibility is more important than consistent performance. The market looks for flamboyance of a Virat Kohli, consistency and credibility draw zero value.

There are laurels, but no visibility for the man with serenity of a Buddhist Monk. There is class, but no opportunity to maintain continuity. This is what fails India’s most successful Test batsman of the day as an acceptable brand for market. World Sports Group had signed Pujara five years back. But not a single deal. Will the latest success and laurels change the scenario. Not much. In fact, for now hardly anything more than a new management group – Mumbai-based NuStart Venture – announcing signing with Pujara shortly. That seems to be the only announcement on the commercial front for India’s best ever scorer in a Test season.

According the sources, with Pujara grabbing headlines and dominating record books, his brand managers have become active even before information about their signing with Pujara is officially made public. There are also sporadic interests and queries. This interest needs continuity for survival. Something, the dependable Saurashtra lad does not control. After Dharamsala, Pujara is out of major action for over three months. A time, when new stars will rise on the horizon of Indian Premier League to fade the real achiever of Indian cricket into oblivion. The market is cruel, memories are short lived.

In a season spanning 13 Tests, his figures of 1,316 runs, four hundreds, including a double ton, an average of 62.66 are eye opener. No other Indian has ever touched the 1,300-mark in a single season. Not even great Gavaskar. Neither Sachin Tendulkar, nor Kohli. For Pujara, amidst these highs, the strike rate of 47.27 masks all these glories for the market, where flamboyance and visibility garner more points than dependability. He though has been elevated to Grade A in the BCCI annual contracts. But that value of rupees two crore contract should contribute to a very small pie for a successful Indian cricketer’s annual revenue charts. There is not even a promotional brand sticker on the bat that oozes runs with flawless consistency.

For an advertiser Pujara brings to the table crucial aspects like consistency, reliability, credibility. The synonyms with banking, infra, power, insurance – anything and everything that banks on long lasting credibility. This trait has been there for a long time. This trait was present when he was scoring big triple tons on domestic circuit. But to be in line to promote a brand, one needs to promote himself as a brand. He is different there too. The only time he wants to be in the public eye is when he is there in the middle, donning white flannels. The coloured, brand-tagged dresses of Men in Blue and IPL have been almost out of reach for the man who plays cricket as Gentlemen’s Game.

For market Gurus, Pujara needs a long way to go to convert his cricketing strength into commercial success. “In cricket there are top rung brands like Kohlis and Dhonis. Then there is a second and third rung. The third rung is never ever touched. Then investor looks for ambassadors beyond cricket. It takes time and vacation at the top, which leads to upgradation,” says Harish Bijoor, brand expert and founder of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc. “Some players invest in making their images very contemporary. They do it to enhance their brand value, to increase their acceptability.

“Pujara is not that kind. He is a very consistent and meditative player. It will be a distraction and destruction for him if he attempts that. It is not his DNA,” adds Mr Bijoor.

For now, announcement of the tie-up with the sports brand management firm NuStart Ventures seems to be the lone good news coming to Pujara from the market front. And then, Mr Consistent will be setting his foot on the English soil for County cricket continuity of run flow from the willow.