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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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Identifying right format critical for success of World Series Hockey

The success of sport in the modern context is majorly dependent on one factor; it’s friendliness as a television property.  The sporting disciplines that have survived and prospered in the modern entertainment world are the ones that have modified and tweaked themselves to the need of the contemporary television audience.  The tweaking could be in many ways such as, scoring systems (as seen in badminton, Table tennis, Volleyball), format of the game (Rugby codes, Cricket formats) et al.

Sports federations’ needs to understand in which category of sport its sporting discipline operates in! Whether it belongs to the ‘mass sport’ category or if it is a niche sport?  Niche sports are soaked in tradition and have a small but fiercely loyal fan base- e.g. Golf, Wimbledon (tennis) and Test Cricket.  In such sporting disciplines or tournaments the aim is to maintain the traditions, any aberration to it will result in antagonizing the consumers of the sport.  On other hand are mass products to be successful have to always look for sizable numbers. All their viewers (actual & potential) can be categorized into heavy users (loyal fanatic), medium users (high level of interest), Light users (sporadically follow the game) and Media users (not necessarily exclusive users & majority of them follow other sources of media entertainment, along with sport).

The numbers usually come from the light users and the media users and as defined above, they are not necessarily loyal and have to be coaxed from other sources of entertainment. There is no doubt that hockey belongs to the ‘mass sport’ category and will have to compete with other sporting disciplines and other entertainment avenues, to garner their share of spectators & viewers.


Hockey In its Present avatar – it is very important to understand that a majority section of the consumers (growing up in the 1990s and 2000s), have never played the game and have followed it sporadically. This differentiates the prospective WSH consumer from say an IPL or ICL consumer. The first set of consumers will be the ones following European football & other ball sports; in turn will invariably draw comparisons between our national game and the globally known beautiful game.  Hockey is a sport that is faster, especially the astro turf version, as compared to Football. This makes it sometimes slightly difficult to pick the ball and action on television. Also a smaller playing surface makes eleven players per side, look a congested sport. So  what is the solution?


WSH should adopt the RIC Charlesworth shorter hockey format-Every Hockey fan across the globe knows Ric Charlesworth.  For the uninitiated Charlesworth is a former great hockey player, a world champion both as a coach and player. One of the sharpest brains in the game of hockey: Charlesworth has developed a format where the number of players will be reduced to eight or seven, relax the ‘carried foul’ rule – which technically will make the game more attacking, faster & free flowing.  The first tournament with this format will be held in Australia in October, exactly two months before the proposed start of the first edition of the WSH. It is imperative for the promoters & organizers of WSH to inspect and adopt this format for its league.  Imagine if IPL was played in the ODI format or the tests format! Would it have met with the same success? Your answer determines the importance for WSH in tweaking field hockey from its present avatar to make it a successful mass-sport & television friendly product.


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World Series Hockey will Change Landscape of Indian Sports

Having followed, worked and written for cricket leagues, I am most enthused with the latest initiation by the Nimbus sports group with the World Series Hockey.  With the opening of the Indian economy and exposure to global sport –one is a little bewildered by the fact that India still remains a single sport nation in terms of sports disciplines with mass following. Yes there are niche sports like Tennis, golf, F1 et al, which are showing growth: however with a neo-rich clientele, their mass appeal is restricted! What Indian sport badly needs, is a sport on the lines of ball sports (soccer in Europe, American football in US and Rugby in Australia and South Africa) -middle class, athletic, fast paced and devoid of an entry barrier, for the common man to pursue. 

The identification of that fast paced sport boils down to none other than India’s national game- HOCKEY.

Why Hockey?  If one identifies other potential sporting disciplines with mass appeal, the ones that come to mind are volleyball and football! However and more so unfortunately, both these disciplines do not have the Indians standards on par at world standards. Despite the growing popularity of football in our country, one needs to understand that the popularity & following exists for European or world cup football and not the Indian version, which is still some years away from achieving top global standards. That boils down the identification of a sporting discipline other than cricket, with pan India potential; boiling down to Hockey. A rich history, coupled with a contemporary Indian team that remains a top ten hockey nation of the world makes Hockey the ideal sport. Additionally the Indian brand of hockey is unique & attractive. The Indian players still are some of the most skillful and right up there with the best in the world.


World Series Hockey will formulate Hockey as a career option for the average young sportsman


Ever since the launch of the World Series Hockey , an initiative by Nimbus sports with IHF; one sees roadblocks  &  threats from parallel bodies and the FIH ( premiere world body for Hockey).  This is the most unfortunate thing that one could see, to an initiative that goes with the mission statement – Reinvigorating Indian Hockey.  The critics and opponents of this league have been misleading the Indian fan by stating that players have been choosing commercial interests over country.  These people need to understand that alone national passion cannot bring about a following for the game! Despite an adequately large talent pool, the number of kids taking to hockey has diminished.  The major reason for this can be pointed to lack of lucrative commercial & social value in playing the sport. What a player needs is a sport where even if he does not get into the national team: he/she could make a good living, earn a social standing and exhibit his talent to a respectable audience base. This is what league sport does to a sporting discipline! It helps garner larger following, generates decent player-salaries, helps set up job opportunities for support staff, coaches’ et al. Most importantly it encourages a young enthusiast and his family to confidently pursue the game as a career option. This is what IPL has done to cricket and is exactly what WSH will do to Hockey.  For the people at FIH and HI (on war path with IHF) my humble request would be – this initiative will build the brand value of hockey, creating great opportunity for   bi lateral series between nations, delivering unprecedented financial revenues! My advice to FIH and HI is simple, concentrate on international hockey (test series between nations et al) and leave league hockey to nimbus and IHF which will act as a catalyst for your international operations, both in terms of popularity and monetary benefits.



Why WSH is a far better product as compared to PHL from ESPN – Star


Well as ironical as it may seem; comparisons between the PHL, India’s first sports league and WSH is inevitable. However I would like to state and as rightly pointed out by the Nimbus chief Harish Thawani, WSH is building all the right ingredients (home and away, franchisees et al) to make it a complete sports league. The PHL was a half baked job, where the players were fit into different teams as is done is school competitions.  All matches were played at a single or two destinations, taking away the true home and away flavor of league matches. Also important to point with WSH is the induction of franchisees. Multiple owners reduces the capital investment burden and propagates fair & dynamic competition between franchisees, resulting in diversity that sets the true flavor of league sport.


In the final analysis this brilliant initiative will transform hockey from an amateur sport to a professional sport. It will change the landscape of Indian sports from a ‘single sport following nation’ to a multi-discipline sporting nation. Hockey today galvanizes the Indian public only once in 4 years during the Olympics. This according to me is a gross injustice to a sport that is our national sport, enjoys a rich legacy & sees us competitive at the highest standards of the game. This is Indian sports’ moment of liberalization. It will bring in riches and social recognition for the sport, its affiliate bodies and players. In turn it will make sport a way of life for a vibrant young population.

I personally believe that WSH has a far more significant role in shaping the future of Indian sport, even more than initiatives like the IPL.  I would urge opinion makers in Indian sport, a vibrant media et al- to take up the cause of WSH as much as they have for cricket and IPL. The benefits for the same will be for all to earn in the long run.


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True account of the IPL; through the eyes of an insider

The first clarification that this blog writer would like post is that this is no fake IPL player; everything is real and is based on true life experiences of an individual, well entrenched into the Indian sports business sector for over two decades. The gentleman was mentioned by the IPL propaganda machinery as the front runner for one of the two IPL teams that got announced yesterday. I met this gentleman over coffee and sandwiches at a city (not naming the city as his identity would become obvious) hotel, on Friday evening; to my surprise he announced that the IPL is not a viable business model.

 His take was that it was a valuation bubble that could burst any time. I was shocked as I have seen him carry out a detailed evaluation process on the IPL model, for the last three years right since its inception. He proclaimed that when he first heard of the IPL he thought it would be on the lines of the EPL and major American sport leagues; to his astonishment he just sees it as an ego trip for business men, cine celebrities and an IPL czar taking everyone on a ride.

His biggest disappointment was laid in the fact that it was a big time opportunity wasted to introduce league and club sports culture in India.

 The gentleman says the following are the apt acronyms of what IPL stands for and his reasons for the same:

 Indian Parivar League – since more than 40% of the teams are directly or indirectly co-owned by the IPL Commissioner and his extended family, there is no transparency in the bidding process, no body is informed about the exact holding of the stake holders and their actual investments. Genuine bidders are sidetracked and family and friends of the commissioner end up winning the bids. The media has well documented the relationship between the commissioner and his coterie who own the teams.

 Indian Pre-determined League – the team owners had clearly predetermined their cities and the price to be paid for the same. The gentleman cannot believe that the city his consortium and organization had bid for, could not win the bid. He clearly pointed out how a city close to one of the key IPL honcho was chosen over the city he had bid for, confining his choice of city, as a mere catchment’s area. According to the gentleman the city he wanted as the host of his proposed IPL franchisee, still contributes more money than that generated by the entire catchment’s area and host city, represented by this team. He is of the clear opinion that this team has the IPL honcho as its biggest stakeholder.

 Indian Pre-programmed League – The biggest revelation came when the gentleman told me that all the matches are fixed. In the earlier season these was being speculated, but now even the media has information that all the matches are blatantly fixed; according to him. Interestingly this observation was mentioned by the gentleman on Friday evening, He asked me to which teams; I felt were favorites for the two matches the following day. The first had the resurgent KKR Vs the depleted Rajasthan. The second match featured Mumbai and Bangalore. My answer was KKR and Mumbai. He asked me to check the odds with some bookies; I found the matches according to the bookies were in favor of the teams I had chosen….. The gentleman told me that results would be a complete reversal to my prediction…… by 11.30 PM on Saturday night I knew I was wrong, the team that had the odds stacked against it, won….. Rajasthan and Bangalore won despite being the weaker sides on that day.

 Indian Poverty League – since no single team has yet attracted any valuation or buyer in reality even after 3 years reflects on the true valuation and financial status of the IPL. The gentleman has authenticated proof that the Rajasthan Royals has been on sale since the day they got the franchise and have tried to sell to every Indian Business house with a higher valuation. Likewise Deccan Chargers was on sale throughout 2009 at the floor price that had won them the bid. In both case no buyers came up till date, simple reason; the P& L statements was dominated by a prominent red color.

Indian Playacting League – since all the players are completely disinterested and only going through the motions in this jamboree; play acting in front of the cameras to fool the gullible viewers is part of the diktat from the IPL organizing committee. Players are encouraged to show their disappointment when the camera focuses on them, when the team in a precarious position. Similarly over the top celebrations are mandatory acts, delegated to the players post a pre-scripted win.

 Indian Pompous League – since the job of the camera crew is to follow the Commissioner as he makes his every move on the ground. The great ex-cricketers have been bought off to sing praises to him and forcibly applaud the game and the format. Eg   He has passed strict instructions to a former Indian captain to call him the Moses of World Cricket. As the production is managed by the IPL strict instructions are passed to the commentators and experts to validate all the IPL commissioner’s statements: like when he shoots his mouth off, regarding the IPL becoming bigger than NBA etc in the future.

 Indian Public duping league – since the gates of every match are thrown open within half hour of the start of the match and still empty. Strict instructions are given out to the event organizers and franchisees’ that packed stadiums are a must….. If as a public you are buying tickets before the match, take the gentleman’s advice wait outside the stadium till about 15 minutes after the match starts, you will be guided to a free seat inside the stadium.

Indian Pre-primary School League – As the gentleman has found out from his friends in the cricket community, associated with IPL as the supports staff across the teams; it is humiliating for the former cricketers and coaches of International repute,  to take diktats and suggestions from team owners especially the women folk, presented the team by husbands and boyfriends. The cricket knowledge of our starlets and Bhabhi is outrageous. Bhabhi called Ambati Ruyudu, “Ambawadi” post the first match. The less said about Shilpa and Preity the better- a whole blog can be dedicated on the diktats from Bhabhi’s & Didis’.

 Indian Political League – since the overt political power struggle between the Commissioner and BCCI officials & MCA is out in the open now. The last is not heard on this front. You also have an irked home minister and members of the ruling party who are looking at taking on the wily commissioner, who slapped them on the face, by taking IPL-2 to South Africa.

 Indian Philandering League – because that’s what everyone seems to be up to especially Shane Warne and his fellow international contingent. Take a look at Warne’s unfit physic and hidden abs. Yuvraj with his new girlfriend, post a humiliating loss of his team in Bangalore, are just scratching the surface in what is cricket’s version of Love, Sex and Dhoka. The gentleman says that as he was privy to a few post match parties in IPL 1 & 2; if he had a hidden camera with him, he would make the Bollywood flick Love Sex and Dhoka appear Pale.

 Indian Party League – The gentleman believes that he is fine with peripheral packaging of a sports product with the glamour quotient, provided the central focus on the product remains sport. However what everyone seems to be interested is, in the party and Bollywood tamasha, since there’s no cricket left in this circus. The players are seen more in action, off the field that on it. In a few years time teams may party on the pitch itself instead of playing cricket.

  For the readers of this blog, all I can promise is that I have blocked appointments with the gentleman periodically over the next few days as the IPL dupes its viewers and the cricket fans…… I am sure you are waiting for the next revelation from the gentleman on the happenings in and around the IPL

 Till then happy reading

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Kaminey Part -2 – based on the life and times of lalit modi

Dear percept and Madhur Bhandarkar,


Than-thanan, what an idea!  Percept and madhur bandharkar you guys rock. You guys wanted to make a dark movie with a principal character full of grey shades. I am glad your search took you to lalit aka lalisp Modi. Well the most talked about dark character in recent Hindi filmdom has been Charlie of kaminey fame. Well what better for percept to borrow the character from Vishal bhardhwaj and take it forward as lalisp modi. After all Charlie and Lalit have one thing in common their incorrigible lisp. Life for them never sucks…….. ooops never f*ks .


Well brilliant idea I must say. Lalit falls completely in the zone of a Bhadarkar genere of movies. Dark, grey, materialistic and go getter.


Character profile of lalisp : Born in a rich family . Travels to the US for studies; brushes the law on the wrong side is charged with attempt to murder and other serious charges…… Runs back to India. Gambles away 2 crores in a diwali night card game against another business scion lalit suri. Marries his mom’s best friend…………… Is thrown out of the family business. Works as a points man for his chief minister friend. Starts a cricket league and becomes the most powerful man of world cricket.


Alright Shahid kapur enough of hadippa. Time to work  on the lisp again coz its going to be lisp lisp  Lalisp and a great colorful character to portray on 70mm.


So tighten your seat belts as Charlie returns with his legendary lisp as lalisp Modi.

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The new genetically modified opening batsman!

Cricket metamorphosis is in its top gear at the moment. A lot of discussions are taking place as to what shape modern day cricket will take. Can the 50 over format survive? Will t20 work as an overkill for cricket? What will be the fate of test cricket? Et al! One major question that has been pondering my mind, since over a year, is the vanishing role of a specialist opener. When I first started following cricket religiously; some of the big stalwarts where opening batsmen. Indian fans worshipped openers, because our first cricketing superstar was an opener in the form of the little master- Sunil Gavaskar. The names Gavaskar, Boycott, Greenidge, Haynes, Rameez Raja & Graham Gooch were revered specialists; epitome of technique and concentration. However the last decade has thrown in openers who were not originally bestowed that position. Look at the names. Players like Jaysuriya, Shewag, Gilchrist and Tendulkar (50 over format)  to present day tormentors like Dilshan and Shane Watson prove that openers are not born they are made.


I guess the easiest inference for this new breed of lower middle order batsmen transforming into successful openers will be blamed on shorter formats of the game! However I think there is a bigger reason for this phenomenon- covered pitches and an attacking approach to all formats of the game including Test cricket. When the likes of Gavaskar and Boycott started off in their careers pitches were green and uncovered. Gavaskar is famously quoted with approaching the opener’s role with the idea that “give the bowler the first 30 minutes and the rest of the day is yours”. I guess today covered and protected tracks have become batting havens. Additionally with bouncer restrictions; the game has heavily tilted in favor of the batsmen in the modern context.


An opener today does not need to play the role of wearing off a fast bowler and seeing off the shine on the leather cherry. He no longer needs to protect his teams’ best batsman- ideally batting at the no-4 position. This throws the inference that in modern day cricket and especially the T20 format you need your best three batsmen playing at the top three batting positions.  The new genetically modified batsman first took the role of a pinch hitter. First seen in the case of New Zealand’s mark Greatbatch in the 1992 world cup, and further perfected by Jaisuriya and Romesh Kaluwurthana in the famed Sri Lankan 1996 world cup campaign. The biggest genetically modified opener is modern day great Sachin Tendulkar. A classical No-4 middle order batsman; Sachin opened in the shorter format of the game to take advantage of playing a full 50 overs. This phenomenon is most relevant today in the T20 format where you would want your best batsmen to play as many overs as possible. I believe that T20 will result in batting positions depending on form and talent rather than an orthodox approach of specialist openers, middle order and lower middle order batsmen.


It has already been well documented that every new format of the game has a positive effect on test cricket. If one analyses the best test team of the last decade you will realize that the Australians have scored their runs at nearly 4 runs per over in the longest format of the game. 20 years back such a phenomenon would have read as the opposition bowlers displaying poor form and eventually losing their positions in the test side. Today a bowler returning with an economy rate of 3, (even in the longer format) would read as a good day in the field for that bowler.

A classical opening batsman in the mold of a Gavaskar or Boycott is an extinct species in today’s’ game. That is quite a misfortune because blocking and seeing off a hostile spell of fast bowling is one of the toughest arts of batsmenship. It almost feels nostalgic to remember a Gavaskar or Boycott seeing off the new ball from the great West Indian pace quartet. I wonder if we will ever see a new young batsman in the mould of a Gavaskar or Boycott. If the answer is “NO”, then the coming generations of crickeut fans will surely miss one of the best contests between bat and ball in the game of cricket.


I am not sure of many other cricketing nations, but in the Indian context two such cricketers who faced the axe despite being classical openers are Wasim Jaffer and Akash Chopra. I remember watching a test match between India and West Indies in the Caribbean in 2007. The slippery and sharp Fidel Edwards was peppering the Indian openers ( Jaffer and Shewag) with some serious leg line short bowling. The marveling observation was the ease with which Jaffer was fending off the deliveries as compared to his more illustrious opening partner. But unfortunately such situations are far and between in modern day test cricket. Therefore an opener in the Shewag mould is any day more effective as compared to an aka Jaffer mould batter, even in the longest format of the game.


All I can say is a big goodbye to the classical test opener. It is sad that today’s game does not need your high-level skills of batsmanship. Batsmen like you encountered the fiercest contest between the bat and ball. Unfortunately modern cricket with covered and batting friendly pitches, military medium pacers on the opposing ends & rules tilted heavily in favor of batsmen- need just a stroke maker and not a classical opening batsman an epitome of defense, technique and concentration.

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Cricketers -From Gentlemen to Beautiful-Men

The game of cricket sits at the cusp of changing from a lazy colonial type, day long sport…. to a modern day high octane commercially driven sport.  Like transition phases in other sectors of life and society; cricket too will see a difficult turnaround period (presently faced). Despite the present day turmoil, I am confident that commercially interest, humongous support & consumer base will see the game through; well into the next decade. The final analysis of the story however is that cricket will follow the football way. The gentleman’s game will take a step forward (hope it turns that way instead of regressive commercialization) to coming close to the beautiful game. I know I may disappoint cricket connoisseurs and a large fan base with the future trajectory the game of cricket we all love so much. But that is another topic altogether. Through this article my aim is to draw a parallel between these two wonderful games and see how the new cricketing world would look; when club and franchisee take precedence over boards and bilateral cricket series. I personally believe that the international test cricket itinerary should confine to an Ashes series and a Asian test championship between Indian, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. If Bangladesh progress in the skills department they would be the fourth inclusion in the Asian test championship. South Africa, New Zealand, West Indies will have to find a market of their own. I feel sorry for South Africa as it is a strong test nation but the only solution for the protease, kiwis and Caribbean cricket centers would be to fall back upon their colonial motherland England and look for a series called a Greater Ashes; where they can fight for the Holy Grail along with England and Australia. I believe that the players of the near future will be freelance cricketers. Their agents will manage their careers. Official cricket boards like old world institutions will perish and will pass on the power to franchisees and the corporate world. Majority cricket will involve club cricket ( read IPL, ICL, T20 offshoots in other cricket nations) and will be played in the T20 format. The cricket world in the next three years will look similar to the present day soccer world.

Below are my “cricket- soccer” parallels. I look forward to your feedback and would love to know what you the true aficionado and expert of the game feel about the same


  1. India – the financial power center of world cricket -will look similar to present day England in the soccer world.
  2. Australia- The most talented cricket land. Similar to what Brazil is to the soccer World.
  3. Pakistan- Mercurial and unpredictable and will produce logic defying world class talents. Similar to Argentina in Soccer.
  4. South Africa. Clinical, methodological and an assembly line of top notch players. Similar to Germany in Soccer.
  5. Sri- Lanka. Enterprising, rich history and effervescent talent. Close geographical location to India makes them parallel to Spain in soccer. Sri Lanka has the opportunity to tap the resources of ICL& Ten Sports (Zee group) to form a parallel cricket’s Premiere le ga. Why Sri- Lanka? Also because of the new found peace and geo political situation in the beautiful island country.
  6. New Zealand. Parallel in soccer is a top notch eastern European country (Czech- republic, Serbia, Croatia- lacking flair but producing an assembly line of disciplined sportsmen of international level.
  7. England – the mother nation of cricket. Soccer parallel reads Italy. The English county will be the Seria-A of Cricket. Never quite achieving the dynamism of IPL (EPL-English premiere league) or ICL (Premiere le liga – Spanish soccer)
  8. West Indies. Their parallel will be South American or African football nations like Mexico, Nigeria, Cameroon or Colombia. Natural flair and aggressive players.


So how does the future of the cricketing world look to you? Look forward to your comments. The only sad part it is the obituary of the most powerful brand of world cricket “team India “& “Men in blue”. Don’t know however if I would miss the dinosaurs BCCI!!!!!!

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ICL is the answer to IPLs annual calendar growth

If you are a fan of free markets and open economy along with a true die hard sports spirit; you would want the ICL & IPL to co exist. If the BCCI recognizes ICL as a second division league then that means you get more out of the T20 format of the game. All the players (just retired and domestic talents) will have better earning potential and Lalit Modi will get what he wants- a larger window for the T20 league concept. All that the Moses of cricket needs to do is be magnanimous and recognize ICL as the second division. It may cause him a few initial hiccups. ICL as second division means that the top two teams from ICL will replace the bottom two in the IPL in the next years’ IPL. This may not go down well with the existing IPL franchisees, who in the present format are cushioned. Performance plays no role in the success or the brand equity of the team. This has also been the IPL’s biggest critic that cricket and performance are taking a backseat on its platform.

BCCI could monetize the game further by garnering broadcast fees for both IPL and ICL. Zee would broadcast the ICL and BCCI can get a cut out of it. Maybe a few IPL franchisees may resist such a move, but they can be shown the door and new ones roped in. Like every other business industry some parties will object to safeguard their vested interests ,but like a government .BCCI needs to concentrate on the larger picture and see the benefit of the proposed move.

Players will get to earn more and BCCI and Lalit can increase their revenue streams by only stamping approval with the pending ICL case. If approved all nine ICL teams will get ready sponsors – at the present rates ICL makes an attractive investment proposition for prospective franchisees, provided the approval is got. The amount that BCCI can get for nine teams in a second division is best left to your judgment. So, why the BCCI should look at the ICL approval route for growth of league T20 cricket? The answer lies in the following two facts; first the only way the IPL can grow with the present international calendar and window restrictions is by making ICL its second division & secondly tap of the impressive resource pool at the disposal of the ICL.

The IPL and BCCI can increase their revenue by the following way:

They can have 9 ready made teams, some with international flavor like the Lahore Badshahs & Dhaka Warriors to earn franchisee fees.
Charge Zee & ICL as broadcaster and league operators a license amount in return of recognition.
More player transfer fees as larger talent pool will result in more selling and buying where a transaction fee can be charged by the IPL board. (Rumors have it that ICL talents like R Sathish, Vignesh, Rayudu & Abhishek Jhunjhunwala are being offered over 1.5 crore deals from IPL franchisees- a percentage of same can be taken by IPL/BCCI if ICL is recognized and player transfer take place like they do in the European soccer circuit)

Finally the above makes sense for a simple reason. The talent pool in the world and especially India is so big that the IPL today faces an embarrassment of riches. Players of the likes of Collingwood, McGrath, Nitini, Vettori are warming benches. It shows that as a global tournament IPL is too small to accommodate the talent pool. Secondly if the IPL adds two more teams in its franchisee list it means at least another 14 matches to the present calendar which may not be possible. It already has a problem with accommodating its present month and half tournament so how will it accommodate more teams and more matches.

So if you are a T20 fan and want the league concept to grow further then the easiest way to achieve this would be to get the ICL as a second division league.

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Spare a thought for the lesser mortals of the game

So the league cricket system is precariously placed with the ICL players receiving the amnesty offer from the all mighty BCCI. IPL commissioner Lalit Modi has gone on record saying that it will be good for the game as he gets more players to choose from. Not a bad thing ! It will help a few top quality players in the ICL like R Sathish (easily the best young talent in the country), Ali Murtaza, Vignesh, Stuart Binny et al. The usual suspects like Ambati Rayudu, Deep Dasgupta, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala , Badani & Mongia too will get IPL offers along with the likes of Rohan Gavaskar . However my concern is about players like Abu Nechim, IS Reddy et al, along with around 70 odd domestic players who are neither a certainty with their state Ranji teams or on the IPL radar. Some would say it is a fair call ; the top performers will get their due while the rest will have to settle for a life back in obscurity of league cricket on barren grounds. This would be a sad situation if sport is only judged on basis of the survival of the fittest- the spirit of sport means that even underdogs should get the opportunity and that is what differentiates sport from business. ICL transformed player remunerations and made it possible for a decently talented young cricketer to play at the domestic level to earn a decent livelihood. IPL & ICL made it possible for a young man to take up the game even if he did not have it in him to make it to the competitive Indian national team. I believe if there is a player exodus from ICL to IPL , a lot of domestic talents in the IPL too will face the heat now. IF some of the top ICL performers are to replace them in the IPL teams , it is certain they will not get renewed contracts from their team owners. This is a point that Lalit Modi and BCCI have to introspect upon as custodians of the game. An ideal stance for them is to buy a majority stake from Essel Sports in the ICL or licensee out domestic players to formulate the ICL as a second division league to the IPL. It also takes forward the T20 format of the game and allows more broadcast revenue & earning potential for the BCCI. As the present ICL & IPL calendars are separate from each other it makes it ideal for both leagues to continue as second and first divisions respectively. What the above policy would do is to encompass a larger talent pool to earn the perks and lucrative packages offered by the T20 league format of the game.

By now you would have realized that I have a special affinity for the ICL and you may ask me the question why? For the simple reason that the gritty Baroda wicket keeper batsman Kiran More & the great Kapil Dev managed to produce a serious cricket tournament despite all the difficulties faced by them. The ICL could have easily gone the Hong King Sixes way as a recreational tournament, but these two gentlemen at the helm of ICL cricket managed to produce a serious and high quality cricket product. The contribution of Michael Bevan, Steve Rixon, Moin Khan & Daryl Cullinan should not go in vain and am sure that their cricket acumen would be tapped by other cricket bodies if ICL takes a sabbatical from the game. The ICL has done its job in identifying and developing young talent like VIgnesh, Binny, Murtaza & Khaleel. The two red hot players for me however would be R Sathish & Ambati Rayudu. These two have it in them to make it to the big league and I am sure they will prove to be ambassadors of ICL’s cause- if they get to perform in the IPL and larger platforms. Having followed cricket as a true patron for over two decades, I am sure these two young players will prove to the world that ICL too has quality acts in its talent pool and will probably bring justice and vilification to the concept of ICL not in the court of law or TV ratings but purely with their cricketing talent.
But along with these talented players a thought should be spared to the likes of Abbas Ali, Reetinder Sodhi , Rakesh Patel and Thiru Kumaran- may be age is not on their side to make it to the Indian team , but they still have a few years of cricket left in them. They may not be a Warne or a Mcgrath but they sure are quality cricketers who will enhance domestic Indian Cricket. Of course ICL would not be needed if IPL could add another 8 teams on their list –but that doesn’t seem to be a realistic possibility. So why not find the best solution in taking league cricket forward by recognizing the ICL as a second division to the Indian Premiere League. If Lait Modi & his BCCI colleagues are true connoisseurs of the game then they will do a big favor for averagely talented domestic talents to get their due from the riches of T20 league cricket; by allowing or recognizing ICL as a second division T20 league. At the risk of sounding repetitive I would again like to state that one IPL is too small to encompass the entire talent pool of domestic Indian talent and either the IPL has to accommodate more domestic talents or outsource some domestic portions to private sports management firms like the ICL.

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SRK packed off from the Cricket arena. IPL franchisees’ Deccan , & Royals- selling stake

It is lot of restructuring at BCCI. Ever since the ICC pushed for an early resolution with ICL and the Essel groups’ response to failed negotiations with strong legal actions have caused a lot of concern for the BCCI. The IPL cash-cow too has left a lot of loop holes in the second season. The announced deal and revised hike by IPl broadcaster Sony; is not all black and white. According to sources it seems that Sony will not part with cash and some parts of the revised hike, is in format of barter to the IPL & its franchisees- in terms of free air time for promotion. Tickets are being sold at a low rate of only about Rs 100. Even this low rate is not educing full houses and false propaganda of sell-out matches have become part of the IPL fictional folklore. This has left the franchisees with lot of heartburn; the central revenue (largely coming from the Bradcaster fee) may not see a hike in actual cash-flow as is being proclaimed by IPL officials. Gate receipts are a long foregone history making the red on franchisee balance-sheet’s far more prominent and dark.
SRK ill- advised to drop his city loyalty base and reposition his team into a pan global identity has met with dust. Latest reports that the Bollywood Badshah is on his way out of the IPL circus, further compounded by his teams’ disastrous cricket performance. Despite better cricket performances Rajashtan Royals & Kings 11 Punjab are financially bleeding and are looking for stake holders to keep the ship floating. The only way IPL franchisees’ can be bailed out is in form of additional central revenue from IPL. However that seems a distant reality with Sony officials admitting that offering additional broadcast fees was a mistake, especially after learning that the competitive suitors NDTV & ESPN were never serious about paying the revised rates demanded by the IPL body. Sony now has offered the IPL and its franchisee a strict part payment in barter (free air time for promotion) that results in lack on additional cash revenue from the central revenue system offered by IPL to its franchisees.

The BCCI changing its ICL stance largely lies on the fact that –an aggressive Essel group is going on the offensive. Sources at Essel, state that time for negotiations are over & they are looking at legal suits being filed both in India & internationally. Its strong legal ground means that BCCI has to try to break the ICL player pool by offering them the IPL and domestic cricket carrot. However, most ICL domestic talents are skeptical about the BCCI offer. Reason being, most are being paid about 30 lakhs plus by the ICL – returning to BCCI hardly guarantees them a place in the Ranji sides or IPL teams. A ranji player would pocket 20 lakhs in a financial year and no player wants a dip in his income. Secondly except for a few players like Rohan Gavaskar, none of the players are certain of a place in the Ranji or IPL Squads. The total number of ICL players from the domestic stable is about 80. SO no more than 10% are assured of an IPL or Ranji place! The only way they can be accommodated in the IPL is by addition in number of IPL teams; strongly objected by existing IPL franchisees as that reduces their share of the pie in regards of the central revenue. The ICL players are also aware of the treatment meted out to Md kaif, Vidhyut Shivramakrisnan, Sanjay Bangar , Akash Chopra et al by the IPL franchisees- making the transition from ICL to IPL a very risky financial proposition. The international guys like Shane Bond are drawing salaries to the tune of $ 8,00,000 ( 4 crores) from the ICL so they would not make the shift unless IPL offers the same amount. Post the Peterson & Flintoff debacle it seems IPL franchisees would not loosen their purse strings easily ;having burnt their fingers with expensive propositions. Therefore it may not seem as easy for the BCCI to break the ICL player pool ; justified that no single individual ICL player has been mentioned other than Sandeep Patil, who according to sources did not fair well in the ICL called – Sports performance evaluation. His side Mumbai Champs always figured last in the ICL tournaments and major restructuring was on the cards as far as that team was concerned.

These look interesting times for the BCCI president Shashank Manohar. His dislike for Lalit Modi is well documented by his absence at both the first and second seasons of IPL. His boss and mentor Sharad Pawar too has distanced himself from Lalit Modi in season-2. Srinivasan, Rajeev Shukla and Niranjan Shah ( BCCI powerbrokers) are fence sitters and waiting for the election results. Rumors are also afloat that if the congress returns to power Lalit Modi’s stint in Indian cricket would be history.
If the ICL issue was not enough then the BCCI also has to content with the APL ( American Premiere League). The BCCI wants to monopolize the game but an over priced IPL has broadcasters and prospective sponsors looking at private leagues like the ICL & upcoming APL as a more value for money proposition. These are interesting times in cricket Will the monopoly of BCCI continue or will it have to share space with ICL & APL? It’s an answer that only time will tell.

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