Archive for November, 2011

Test Cricket should have seprate exclusive operations

As I write this piece, we have witnessed two recent test matches, that prove that when the contest between bat and ball is balanced; test cricket is the most pure form of cricketainment. So the big question, what has the apex body of world cricket ICC and its constituent national bodies, done to promote and propagate the oldest and purest form of cricket forward on the path of growth?. The answer sadly is nothing! All you find is wise administrators making the politically correct statement – test cricket is priority (sic). If test cricket was priority then why is the world championship of tests, postponed for another era!

My assumption is that the czars of cricket administration have never had the confidence that test cricket on its own steam can be a commercially successful product. Their inference is that test cricket is something that is important emotionally , but needs to be compensated by limited overs cricket to survive. The above scenario may not be true for countries like Australia and England, where test cricket still is big. However the financial fulcrum of world cricket , India and its constituent apex body BCCI, operate the test format on low priority. This is what ails test cricket’s growth and needs to be addressed with immediate effect.

I believe that the recent two tests , one featuring australia and south africa and other involving West Indies and India, have been eye openers. If wickets are sporting, the balance of the battle between bat and ball is maintained, we will get entertaining close encounters resulting in high spectator turnout and coinciding higher TV audiences.

If test cricket has to prosper then it should be a stand alone entity, commercially and more importantly in terms of operations. What this would do is remove the complacency from the present set up of cricket administrators , especially from India. There is no doubt in my mind that the present day revenues of Indian cricket establishment comes from IPL and ODIs; the BCCI mandarins treat tests as a honorary format that they need to compensate. There is no sense of initiative or focus as they generate revenue for the tests from the broadcaster, who too treat tests as a necessary evil they need to broadcast, while the bread and butter lies in the shorter formats. The same results in no initiative or mandate to produce sporting wickets, which is imperative to produce a good test cricket product. The present mentality involving test cricket in India, is to produce batting strips that would convert into spinning wonders, day 3 onward – resulting in a win for Indian expected to leave all satisfied. This is far from the truth and certainly not what the average fan wants- he wants a great competitive contest, with of course the emotive rider of India doing well! The proof of the same lies in the significantly higher interest generated in the 3rd test that India drew as compared to the first two tests of the series that India won!

Test cricket fans have to be more vocal in their demands for competitive test match cricket. For the format to take precedence over every other format, it is important for the connoisseur of test cricket to express the need to see competitive test matches. Their voice has to be heard by the top cricket administrators of the world, especially those in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. And this is only possible when test cricket lovers are not apologetic anymore of their preference and show their strength in terms of numbers . The basis of my write up lies in my belief that the base of test cricket supporters in especially the top 8 test cricket nations of the world, is large enough to play a significant voice in world cricket.

For test cricket to survive and exhibit itself at its best; is to be played on sporting wickets and run pro-actively as an independent operating body. It definitely does not deserve to operate as a subsidized product of the shorter format of the game,. Test cricket connoisseurs have to believe that the format has a big enough fan base to economically survive and prosper on its own. The same can be achieved only when. a separate body is made accountable for test cricket,its growth and success; much like how you have a separate IPL governing council.

What a separate body to govern the longer format of the game also will do is , it will prioritize domestic cricket structures in top nations like India. Look at the interest level amongst the general public for our Ranji trophy structure. Rather than a first class competition, it has languished as a upcoming cricketers development league. That is unfortunate if one considers its glorious past and stories of epic battles fought in its rich history. A separate body would imperatively allocate resources and focus in the promotion of the tournament, as it would the base of the longer format( international test cricket). Similar to what IPL governing council does for T20. More importantly it would be free from distraction of. Having to organize the shorter formats of cricket!

As always my views are based on personal assumptions and gut feelings. I would as always, love to get your feedback along with contrary views, to comprehend the topic better.

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Goa should legalize sports betting

My recent visit to Goa has me marveled at the growth of the betting (or politely gaming) industry growth in the state. What started as a few sporadic cruise boats with casinos, has today mushroomed into land and sea casinos, in every nook and corner of Goa. Yes social activists and conservatives will object to this – but see the revenue it earns for the state, which can be reinvested into infrastructure health care and education . Betting like drinking et al is a social evil, only when done in excess, in moderation it is a old lifestyle indulgence of humans , existing since start of civilization. No law, regulation can crub the same. The aim is to educate society to indulge in it moderately.

My purpose with this write up is for Govt of Goa to recognize the huge market that presents itself for earning humongous revenues from the sports betting market in India. Not many know that betting is a state subject; i.e if maharshtra or bengal or delhi want to make sports betting legal, they can go ahead and do it! It is completely in the hands of the state and the center and its tall bureaucracy need not be activated.

What makes Goa ideal for becoming the first state to legalize sports betting –
1. Tourist destination with economic and demographic potential equivalent to a Macau and Philippines.

2. Indians, like Goa as a destination. They would love to take off to goa to indulge in some sports betting and tips, amongst the pristine sun ,sand and beer of India’s No-1 holiday destination.

3. Smaller state and proactive to consumers and tourism- the goan state has an advantage of being a tourist friendly destination . Its bureaucracy is used to working around consumer oriented industries like tourism, making them proactive to facilitate policy and decisions to activate a sports betting structure. Also with a vibrant casino and poker industry Goa is better geared to kick off legal sports betting, than any other state in the country.

Benefits for Goa

1. Huge revenue numbers – to give you an idea- the last world cup in India saw betting figures touching around Rs. 50000 crore for a single tournament. On a conservative estimate an all year round revenue for legal betting in Goa can be estimated at around Rs. 100,000 crore. Betting companies usually operate on 80 :20 ratio. Where 80 percent of their revenue is pay out to winners. The remaining 20 percent, can be split (50:50) between the operating companies and the state government ( revenue sharing basis). This gives a state like Goa with a population of around 14 lakhs- revenues to the tune of 10000 crores per annum. Add to this the investment in infrastructure , tourism growth and employment – Goa and Goans would become the true kings of good times.

I understand the above write up seems radical and socially detrimental to a few . But the benefits are enormous vis a vis the ills. This article is just throwing peripheral light on the potential of legal sports betting. Your comments and valuable feedback should see me offer you further in-depth analysis on this subject.

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