Chronicles of India’s T20 cricket


Two years two world cups, two IPL editions and one champions league later- modern day cricket power BCCI, stands at the cusp of changing the very fabric of the game we all came to love. Today some fractions of the same BCCI that economically benefited from the riches of IPL, find that it is killing its golden goose –International Indian cricket. The latest revelations from none less than the CEO of BCCI Ratnakar Shetty questioning  the young Indian players commitment to the national cause, flop show of the champions league( t20 format)  and champions trophy( one day format) and emergence of freelance players has dawned the realization that cricket has  changed for ever. Personally I find it a far more complex issue than just calling it crass commercialization or lack of player commitment from the present crop of players. How the game will evolve will need time. Can the diminishing interest in the ongoing Airtel Champions league be revived in the next round of matches? Will brand “cricket India “survive post r the high profile Australia series? Only time will tell!

 

In my pursuit of the above answers I tried to understand the history of the t20 format of the game in India.  Going through the archives of sports reports; I was marveled at the U-turns taken by the BCCI. A modern day Greek tragedy sees the most powerful cricket board that resisted the t20 format of the game initially do a flip around  to own the biggest T20 cricket property in the IPL. I thought it is right for you the cricket fan to know how the t20 format took birth in India and how the IPL today is proving to be a Frankenstein monster for the BCCI and Indian cricket.

 

My first glimpses of t20 cricket were when English county teams started playing it. I saw a prophetic Ravi Shastri claim in England; on an India overseas series that the format did not make sense to him and could never succeed. Back home the czars of Indian cricket too tried to avoid the format with the primal fear of it eating into the money spinner of those times “One-Day cricket”. As ICC and rest of the world embraced the shortest format of the game BCCI resisted it.

 

Again during India’s tour of England in 2007; BCCI had to reluctantly select an Indian team for the inaugural t20 world cup. Somewhere down, the Indian establishment did not want to add to the success of the T20 format with its humongous financial clout and support base. It strategically asked five of its top players Tendulkar, Dravid , Ganguly, Zaheer and Kumble to withdraw themselves from the world championship. An Underdog side led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni was sent to South Africa. The rest of that campaign is history.

 

At around the same time India was witnessing its first comprehensive private participation in cricket in form of Essel group’s ICL. ICL looked to work around creating a brand out of the much languished and abandoned domestic Indian cricket and its players. Their sport product was packaged with some International players not part of their respective national squads. It was a masterstroke- without affecting the fabric of the international game. The private entrepreneurial effort suddenly was foreseen as a solid sports product with the best of India’s domestic talent pool and high quality broadcast. The BCCI knew that a private entrepreneur had realized the opportunity to create a viable economic sport product at the domestic level never before tried by any cricket board of the world. Instead of collaborating and encouraging private involvement in its operations; the BCCI took an antagonistic approach to the ICL.

 

The situation provided an opportunity for the megalomaniac marketing wizz kid of the BCCI ( Lalit Modi) who also harbored dreams of starting  a private cricket league like the ICL in the 1990s. Modi had flirted with sports broadcast with limited success till then. He brought ESPN to India but soon cut off the tie up. He had invested some money in trying to poach international players to create a private league with the 50 over format but was met with stiff resistance from BCCI. On pretext of countering the ICL, Modi sold the IPL concept to the BCCI – who without thinking of the long term repercussions joined his bandwagon.

 

Most experts had predicted that the IPL was a global giant that would swallow the international fabric of the game. However in their approach to destroy the ICL –cricket establishments around the world (some readily, others reluctantly) agreed to support the IPL and block out the ICL. In reality the IPL was a bigger threat than the ICL for the world cricket establishment. The ICL was based on working with domestic Indian players and mixing them with former or over the hill but recognized international players to create competent t20 cricket teams with city based following. On the other hand IPL was based on creating a league on basis of their star value of present day international players. Imperial franchisees were brought in with the bait of owning the game of cricket. This worked completely opposite to the initial ideology of the BCCI which wanted to restrict the T20 format to protect the other two longer versions of the game, especially its golden goose One day – 50 over format.

The irony of this eventful T20 chronicle today sees the BCCI facing a Frankenstein monster in the IPL . The IPL was created to blunt out a domestic ICL, but more than the ICL it has managed to hit on BCCI’s biggest brand – “ the national cricket team” fondly known as the men in blues.

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1 Comment »

  1. 1989bilayy said

    NICE BLOG! a GREAT read Love it 🙂
    http://www.MyCricketHighlights.com 🙂

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