IPL brand extension can reinvigorate Ranji trophy into a competitive domestic league!


Most cricket followers may have followed the recently concluded Ranji trophy final, like me on twitter! Though the tournament registers a great brand call with anyone remotely following Indian cricket, participation as a live viewer (broadcast or on-ground) may be bare minimal!

The 2014-15 season which featured a final between, Tamil Nadu & Karnataka had negligible viewer participation on ground or on-air! This season’s final, also coincided with the on going world cup and that as always, works detrimental in garnering viewership, in what I consider as an extra ordinary situation emerging every four years!

However what ails the Ranji trophy popularity, is the transformation of the competition over the years, from a competitive first class tournament into a development league for upcoming players.! The singular reason for this is   a long international cricket calendar, where national stars hardly participate in a ranji fixture. A comparative analysis of number of ranji appearences of Gavaskar in his playing times vis a vis Tendulkar’s could throw light as to how probably today’s top players hardly get to play India’s premiere domestic competition. According to a report that appeared on NDTV website Dt 2012;  Gavaskar has played 348 first class matches ,48 more than Tendulkar ,despite the latter’s longer first class span as cricketer.

Though the trend of the year long international calendar for top stars cannot be reworked; a few innovative steps documented below could be tried by the BCCI to create interest in the ranji trophy competition amongst viewers, players (domestic & international) & sponsors!

  1. Allow a brand extension for each IPL team into the ranji trophy circuit – All the IPL teams enjoy brand equity in terms of popularity & economic valuation far surpassing that of every Ranji trophy team in the country, including Mumbai & Karnataka Ranji teams. IF these teams with their existing domestic players pool are allowed to participate in the Ranji trophy ; they bring in a new economic and commercial energy much needed to boost the competition and its popularity. Now it may not be possible to have the participation of any top international star play for Ranji trophy, owing to busy international calendar! But there are enough players beyond the international team who possess significant brand equity to create a buzz for the competition! Most domestic players should be allowed to choose between his Ranji team and a professional contract with his IPL team.  There are presently 27 Ranji teams in India; add 8 IPL teams and tally of teams in Ranji trophy goes to 35 teams! Divide them in four groups and allow round robin format within group to further set one off elimination matches. This will help more players enter the first class pool & will bring in the competitive nature and public following , owing to participation of the IPL teams and players. Now the IPL team may deplete the star quality of a state team , owing to a player choosing an IPL team , but it is exactly this competitive spirit amongst teams that will reinvigorate the competition.  It also creates great scope for 8 derby encounters , a big highlight across domestic leagues ( across sporting disciplines)  around the world.

 

  1. Create a separate broadcast property for the Ranji trophy – Like it does for the IPL, BCCI needs to create a separate promotional fund to promote the Ranji trophy as a competitive premiere tournament. Funds required for same can be raised from franchisee fees from above IPL teams and broadcast fees from the large number of competitive broadcasters operating in the Indian media space. Now important to note here is the fact that the economics involved in this whole reengineering will be a fraction of the economy of scale of the IPL !However  as a start it will reinvigorate the competition,  with economically driven franchisees at the forefront ! It will also lift the morale of domestic  state teams who will come under public scrutiny in terms of performance  and accountability.

Ranji trophy is far prestigious a tournament, to just play the role of an assembly line for the national Indian team. In a nation which swears by cricket as a religion, the potential to optimize the game’s popularity, beyond the national team & the IPL tT20 tourney, stares the custodians of the sport in their face.

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1 Comment »

  1. crickethindustan said

    Reblogged this on Cricket Leagues of India.

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