Posts Tagged bcci

Upsets to look out for at the ICCWorld T20

By Samir Pai

For any connoisseur of T20 cricket, one special feature of the format is the upsets that a minnow can inflict on the heavy weights. Every edition has seen upsets at galore and this edition will surely not be an exception. As seen in the just concluded India vs. Afghanistan match, the spirited men from the land of the pathans, remained in hunt of an upset right up to the very end of the match.  

The very first edition saw the indomitable Australians eat the humble pie against Zimbabwe, along with the babes of Asia Bangladesh beat a far more formidable West Indies.  The Second edition of the T20 world saw Netherlands beat hosts England in the round stage, along with West Indies beat the mighty Australians, who were still to decode the shortest format of the game. That was not all; the naturally gifted individuals from the Caribbean islands delivered the killer blow to the defending champions India in the group of 8s! Results in the third edition in the West Indies, saw no drastic results, like in the previous two editions, however a much fancied & IPL hardened India, lost all their matches except against lowly Afghanistan.   

While the Fourth Edition sees big teams more in tune with the requirements of the T20 format, making upsets difficult to achieve! It is no hidden fact that the T20 format provides the much lesser opponents their best chance to make a statement against the power centres of world cricket. How else would you explain an all charged Australia, turning out at their aggressive best against lowly Ireland and India sweating it out till the very end against Afghanistan!

In the humble view of the writer here are two of the matches that could deliver upsets! Your feedback and counterviews will be most appreciated in form of responses!

  1. 1.       24th September – West Indies Vs Ireland

 

This match should feature a mercurial west indies taking on a disciplined Ireland. While the West Indies possesses some of the best T20 players in the world, as a side they could disintegrate against a side that has county hardened and a disciplined lot from Ireland.

  1. 2.        25th September – Pakistan Vs Bangladesh

Anybody who has witnessed Bangladesh in the last edition of the Asia Cup would know of their huge improvements, especially in the limited over format of the game. It does not need rocket science to know that they would present their most dangerous self in the shortest format of the game! A temperamental Pakistani batting is what they would look to target to make most of that encounter.

I am sure the odds are stacked against these two lesser opponents, however if you are the betting types, looking to beat the odds for a big bounty, these are the games to look at with high interest.  For the rest of the general sports loving   folks like this writer, these two games provide you with the utmost joy of David conquer Goliath!  Happy gaming & viewing and enjoy the most democratic format of cricket at its highest level.

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Time opportune for BCCI to Introduce Tendulkar’s 4th cricket format.

The buzz around the media rights for the BCCI rights is again making the rounds! New players have emerged with possibly Zee group coming back into the official fray and Sony all set to launch its new sports channel. One area of concern for the BCCI must be the fact that past broadcasters have been losing money on its steeply priced property and a correction in valuations is a distinct reality it might face.

At the same time, it is logical to expect that due to competition the property price may not see a correction! However as a prospective broadcaster; would one want to bleed and pay the steep price just to be in the reckoning or would one want to explore BCCI properties beyond just the international fixtures, especially the domestic Indian cricket tourneys to monetize the property further.

If I was the prospective broadcaster I would like to sit with the BCCI officials, analyze all their domestic properties beyond the international fixtures and repackage and introduce new tournaments to generate revenues beyond international cricket to make my bid an economically viable bid.

One such tournament that can be introduced is the “TENDULKAR CUP”. In an interesting interview with Boria Majumdar of times now, just after the 2011 World cup victory Sachin, had stated that due to the dew conditions prevailing in the sub continent, matches were decided on basis of the toss giving an unfair advantage to sides batting second. He stated that he would like to introduce the 25 over two innings format in the ODI format to make matches more exciting and equitable for both sides. A proposal was also sent to the ICC, which in all fairness snubbed the proposal!

Time is opportune, with new broadcast rights and languishing state of Indian domestic cricket, to introduce Tendulkar’s proposed format in India. If fans remember the T20 format originated in England to revamp and create interest in the county circuit.  BCCI, faces a similar objective for uplifting interest in  its domestic cricket structure. A tournament named after the great Sachin Tendulkar, involving a public -private partnership model ( aka IPL franchisees) needs to be started. This tournament would act as a bonus for the new prospective broadcaster as an added revenue stream to supplement his revenues from Indian international fixtures at home!

Details to follow in subsequent posts…………. As always welcome your suggestions, feedback et al to take this discussion forward!

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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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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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Welcome Lalit Modi to the bloggers world

Well Moses is what Ravi Shastri called you for inducting IPL on the cricket map. I am sure Shastri will soon realize that his own no- nonsense and gritty image as commentator earned after his famous whiplash at Mike Denis in South Africa after the infamous Indo- SA test is diminishing fas and replaced by a puppet of the commercialized cricekt world .THe infamous press conference post  Mike, the match referee banning  six Indian players including Sachin Tendulkar saw Shastri win over the audience for his sharp and incisive comments that followed for years in his stint at ESPN. Since his shift to the IPL Shastri, is left with nothing but a peripheral role of a known-commentator; milked by the IPL commissioner to propagate his white lies.

Lalit Modi in his latest avtar is now seen as blogger on his monetized website http://www.iplt20.com and in his inaugural post he takes a dig at the fourth estate covering his cricket circus as – “ill-informed media commentary that we have introduced strategy breaks simply to squeeze in more ads does us a disservice.”

I cannot fathom the fact that this man gets away with murder every time he and his IPL circus is doing disservice to the game and its true patrons -the cricket fans. Why does he just not admit that the strategy break is for additional revenue as he has arm-twisted his broadcaster to pay extra 400 crores.

The panic in his camp was realized as soon as the TRP’s were released. Sony and the advertisers are seething in anger according to well placed sources. I mean the biggest joke is when the IPL camp say that tickets have been sold out (empty stands show a completely different picture though!). The justification given by poor commentators says that tickets were sold but people have backed out due to bad weather. Which sane person would buy a premium ticket and not turn up for a match. I guess top angle shots on a doctored audience section – trying to justify a packed attendance is nothing but what in filmi lingo is known as cheat-shots. I am amazed how come nobody from the media covering the tournament, clicks a true picture to show the true picture to  the fans of the game . I am sure they are in agreement with me that this is the least the Indian fan deserves – a honest appriasal of the tourament.

You may ask me why so much anger against Lalit Modi . My answer is simple- I just cannot take the following facts

Some questions for Modi and please to answer them through his blog or more importantly I would urge you as custodians of the forth estate to poke him with the same :

1. You call your product recession proof and at the same time, pack back domestic Indian boys. MD Kaif & co are considered excess baggage while IS Bindra , Niranjan Shah , Rajeev Shukla sip on wine shamelessly at the matches.

2. Teams are not known by the players but either through their franchisees or filmstars owning exaggerated stakes in various teams. I would seriously want to know if Shilpa Shetty has paid the said $ 15.4 million for a 12% stake. ? Would you make available the relevant documents on a public forum? More imporatanly are you addressing the issue as  the BCCI president – on why Indian cricketers are bestowed with second class status on what you procalim to be a domestic  Indian tournament?

3. You are interviewed by Ravi Shastri in a doctored interview during the live telecast of the match and you say that ratings are sky high & the tournament is picking up? But opening figures for your matches show a completely different picture can you clarify?

I guess three questions are enough to fill your second blog and you would do a great service to the people of India who have given cricket the pedestal it enjoys today.

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Bangladesh Cricket board needs to show the way forward on the ICL issue

With the unveiling of the 9th ICL team in form of the Dhaka warriors and a big marketing blitz for its season-2; ICL has announced that it is here to stay. What attracts a professional cricketer to the Indian cricket league? The answer lies in the fact that the ICL provides top playing conditions an elementary requisite for a professional cricketer. Secondly the ICL philosophy and structure helps a professional cricketer get his rightful due in terms of his remuneration.

So far all the commercial spoils were enjoyed by the cricket boards and a portion of it trickled down to the domestic grass root level players & this explains the poor status of domestic players across cricket boards.

In case of Bangladesh I think the cricket Board and fans need to take the “player move” to ICL in a positive way. The grand launch of the Dhaka Warriors has given due recognition to Bangladesh cricket and its cricketers.

The traditional cricket structure always questioned Bangladesh’s test status & considered them minnows. But this is where the ICL is a cricket body with a difference, they have not only seen a commercial & cricketing potential in Bangladesh Cricket, but also unveiled the Dhaka warriors as the next big thing from the ICL stable.

Cricket pundits of the stature of Kapil Dev, Kiran More, Dean Jones & Tony Greig have seen the wisdom of inducting the Dhaka side on the competitive ICL platform & now it is for the Bangladeshi cricket fan to come out in numbers to support their players on a vibrant cricket platform that has a global reach.

From the view point of Bangladesh Board, they need to be visionaries and not follow the standard BCCI dictum. The ICL induction will showcase the true potential of the Bangladesh players and if they knock in a good performance at the forthcoming ICL Season-2, then the perception about players from Bangladesh will see a refreshing change from the global cricketing fraternity.

My sincere request to the Bangladesh cricket board, stand up to the BCCI and work only for the benefit of your own players. The first effects of the ICL induction is there to see for every Bangladeshi cricket fan. IPL authorities who ignored your players in their first season have promised to sign up your players for their next season.

For the sake of Bangladesh cricket, I hope the Dhaka Warriors put up a good show in ICL season-2.

Good Luck Warriors!

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Pragyan Ojha or Ali Murtaza; who merited the selection if it was a level playing field?

Well Congratulations to Pragyan on his India selection, afterall it reads better than a desperate measure of roping in a Murli Kartik from the commentary box!

The Asia cup showed the Indian team suffered from a dearth of spinners in the absence of Harbhajan Singh.

Somehow the options seemed limited!!!! However this is not the case as far as the talent pool of Indian spinners is concerned, though the selection option is limited because of the ICL ban; coz it was the ICL that opened the avenue for spinners in the T20 format of the game.

One spinner at ICL who has been in the spotlight has been Ali Murtaza, the young 20 yr old spinner who has been continuously spinning the web around the best of batsmen in the world. He has come in for special mention from players of the stature of Marvan Atapattu & Inzamam Ul Haq who have spoken volumes on the humongous talent the young Delhi Giants spinner possesses.

However this prodigal talent and his talent is not exploited by cricket India because of the BCCI’s draconian diktat.

The best recommendation for Murtaza came from the legendary Erapalli Prasanna; according to whom if Ali can perform in the spinners graveyard called T20 cricket ,then he is absolutely ready for the 50 over format and Test in the years to come.

On pure merit and a level playing field the fact that Murtaza get the nod ahead of Ojha is anybody’s guess!

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IPL franchisees’ need to check their ego to maintain sanctity of cricket

The BCCI conceptualized the IPL, brought in big bucks, mega deals and high profile ego centric franchisees who were given a free hand to run cricket with proper checks and balances. The cracks are now developing and unless the BCCI nips the problem in the bud, the future of the IPL seems in danger.

I guess too much importance was given to entertainment & celebrity franchisees and this put cricket & its magnificent players on the back burner. This in my personal opinion was a catastrophic mistake as it belittled the cricketers & the core fan base. The BCCI claimed that it was the domestic Indian talent that would be the biggest benefactor of the IPL, but their actions and communication highlighted big-bucks, star player assortments and over enthusiastic franchisees, who were made to feel as the new messiahs of Indian cricket.

How else could you explain the fact that at the half way stage Shahrukh Khan under the after effects of his Chak-de image emerged as the poster boy of the IPL? The significance of the blunder was evident in the fact that the IPL was inclusive of cricket icons like Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dhoni & Dravid.

In their over zealous enthusiasm; the franchisees under their ill advice of their entertainment brief started destroying the sanctity of the game by trespassing dressing rooms  etiquettes, player dugouts and probably team compositions ( how else can one explain packing off domestic players as a cost cutting measure).

I guess the biggest culprit in this whole avoidable episode has been the BCCI as patrons of the game and principle employers of the Indian cricketers they should have imparted their experience of running a sporting product to their enthusiastic franchisee rather than giving them a free hand with running of operations, especially handling players and cricket related issues.

It’s time the BCCI steps in and briefs the franchisees on the do’s & Don’ts:

  1. Stay away from cricketing issues: The winning and loosing of a side is beyond the preview of the franchisee’. The franchisee should only concentrate on promoting the regional identification of the team, stadium audience & endorsement and merchandise deals. I guess they should feel privileged in handling a product which enjoys unparallel brand equity; irrespective of the results of their performance, a Tendulkar , Ganguly , Dravid or Yuvaraj will guarantee you publicity and eyeballs. Winning or loosing is a part of the game and it’s only the egos of pompous franchisees’ like Dr Mallya that has instigated him to make unwarranted statements against some of the biggest names in the sport.
  2. Maintain sanctity: Shahrukh Khan as the self proclaimed ambassador of entertainment with the Kolkata knight riders has been seen crossing the line very often, smoking in the stadium, trespassing team meetings, crossing the boundary line; this Mr. Khan is just not cricket.    It was just a matter of time before those associated with cricket would take notice of this blatant trespass and have rightly cautioned him.

I guess the best answer Shahrukh got was in Mumbai when his act of upstaging the biggest icon of world cricket “Sachin Tendulkar” was met with a vociferous booing from the traditionally rich, cricket fanatic Mumbai public. I guess this is the best reminder to the Chak de star that his reel image of the hockey icon should be restricted to the 70-mm screen and he should take the back seat and let the likes of Ganguly and Dhinda remain in the forefront of the Knight-Ridder campaign.

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Obituary of National Icons! Will Shashank Manohar Save National Cricket

Change is the order for any sporting discipline in the competitive dynamic world of modern sports and one sport which is seeing dramatic changes is cricket. When league cricket was pioneered by ICL; they had a blessing in disguise in the fact that they could not touch national players. The ICL therefore cleverly tried a combination of international Icons in the dawn of their career with domestic Indian talents and produced competitive teams which took to T20 cricket like fish to water. This clearly demarcated city league & international cricket and both could co exist.

The BCCI has countered the ICL move by upping the scale and encompassing national icons around the world in the IPL. The IPL has turned out to be a commercial success but it will leave two major side effects for especially India cricket:

1. National Icons replaced by city icons: who would have thought that a Rahul Dravid would be booed at wankade? A Shewag batting carnage at Hyderabad would be greeted by a hush silence.

I think we have seen the last of national Icons in Dravid, Ganguly & Sachin Tendulkar. The Future stars like Dhoni , Shewag , Yuvaraj & Rohit Sharma will be metamorphosed into regional icons ; as far as their commercial valuations do not take a beating the players will not complain ,but in the long vision I guess cricket will cease to be a national sport , it will remain a city based league sport on the lines of the north American sports leagues.

I am sure a majority would think that this write up has been under the influence of some intoxicants and that the game that evoked national passion like none other can never change. But the reality will soon strike and like everything else in life commercial considerations will overpower nostalgic emotions. The best metaphor for national cricket is single screen cinema hall which has given way to multiplexes. The multiplex of cricket is the IPL and all that will remain of white flannels & men in blue is nostalgic moments.

2. Death of Trans national rivalry: The ICC has never looked weaker, Pakistan cricket is in trouble, so is the Sri Lankan set up. The only countries which have a foundation are Cricket Australia & England if another league cricket tycoon, Stanford bails them out. It is only a matter of time before you identify a Shoaib Akhtar is known as a Kolkata knightrider or a Murlidharan as a Chennai boy. Bret lee will be known as the blonde assassin in Zinta’s basket & Warne will be in the news for stalking a Rajput princess with his SMS’s. Again this fact may be hard to fathom for all the cricket fans who have grown up on international rivalries, but mark my words Yr 2008 will be the last resistance to city/franchisee based cricket taking over all other forms of the game.

So is there a solution to save cricket from this onslaught. Personally the dominance & monopoly of the IPL has to be countered. The only way of doing it is by brining it at par with the ICL & Stanford’s league. Somehow players should be allowed to play in al the three leagues maybe Stanford or ICL should buy out the underpaid Aussies at the IPL similarly the IPL & Stanford could buy out some promising domestic talents from the ICL , what this would do is break the monopoly and commercial loyalty amongst the players with the IPL. I guess The IPL should be relegated as a mere subsidiary of the BCCI and IPL authorities should not allowed to be a part of the BCCI decision making committee. It would be interesting to see when Shashank Manohar ( president elect of the BCCI ) takes over at the helm of affairs of the BCCI. Manohar has spared himself from the IPL hoopla and a lot would depend upon him to cut down the IPL to the size it rightly deserves, so that the true flavor of cricket survives.

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ICL important for Indian Cricket in the changing sporting scenario

The sporting environment in India is in for a robust change. The boom in the economy is seeing a change in the way sport is perceived and consumed by the general public. The mantra for sporting disciplines is globalization and it is a matter of time before other sporting disciplines making inroads to fight for its share of the pie (entertainment dollar). The world of soccer wants to tap the big Indian market and with clinics organized by the English premiere league teams & the visit of the global football chief to India; football authorities are making the right moves. Golf is also seeing a lot initiatives, Hockey with a change in guard may throw few surprises.

The above developments augurs well for Indian sport and also acts as a wake up call for Indian cricket to step on the pedal to maintain its no-1 position.

To maintain its commercial success it is important for cricket to maintain its sporting success and for this the most critical factor would be to produce an assembly line of domestic talents who receive the best of training & exposure; to complement the Indian national team.

The ICL was the first off the blocks in identifying this area of domestic Indian cricket. Investment in world class training, support staff & top of the drawer international coaches combined with top level cricket exposure has seen the ICL successful in unearthing cricket talent that otherwise would have been lost in the oblivion of an outdated domestic cricket structure (Ranji trophy).

The fact that today players like Ali Murtaza, R Sathish, Stuart Binny have become house hold names ; players like Rohan Gavaskar, Thiru Kumaran & Ambatti Rayudu have shown the world that they still possess the cricketing prowess to take on the best of the world, augurs well for the intentions & achievement of objectives of the ICL.

The IPL has taken a leaf out of ICL and launched its first tournament amongst a lot of hype & hoopla; to its credit & that of its promoters, IPL too has managed to unearth a few new stars in the likes of Ghoni, Ashok Dinda & Swapnil Asnodkar.

The fact that former international greats like Glenn Mcgrath & Shane Warne have out shone the regular icons reiterates the fact that former international greats have a significant role to play in harnessing new talents in this latest format of the game. This was again an area that should be credited to the ICL as they were the first of the blocks to identify the potential of using former international cricketers in building their city based teams. It also answers their critics who dubbed them as a league of wannbe domestic talents & retired cricketers!

The above makes it imperative for all associated with cricket to see the ICL in the same light as the IPL, after all how much one can differentiate in terms of performance between a Bret lee or a Shane Bond , Glen McGrath & Jason Gillespie or a Shane Watson & Ian Harvey.

It has now been identified by one & all that the T20 format of the game is one of the most transparent platforms for young domestic hopefuls to showcase their talents. The ICL has 124 domestic talents most of whom have played for India or first class cricket. On the other hand an IPL team roughly has 25 members out of which 8 are international cricketers making it 17 national Indian players per team. With 8 teams this figure reads approximately 136 Indian players at the IPL. Therefore the total number of Indian players plying their trade at the two leagues reads a humongous talent pool of 260 Indian players.

Now if according to the wisdom and wish of the BCCI only IPL was to exist then it means that nearly half of these 260 players would not have an opportunity to display their cricketing prowess on a city based T20 platform. This is the sole major reason why the ICL should be encouraged and seen as a synergistic initiative in the betterment of Indian cricket.

After all if the IPL has seen the comeback of the smiling assassin ( Balaji) on the IPL platform then the ICL has rediscovered the bald assassin ( Kumaran ), as one of the craftiest medium pacers in the limited over format of the game.

If IPL has thrown up a pint sized Asnodkar from the Rajasthan Royal stable drawing comaprision with sachin amongst his mates; the Mumbai Champs have discovered their very own Tendulkar in the pocket dynamo Raviraj Patil. If Ashok Dinda has impressed everyone with his pace at the IPL then one should not forget that the young Abu Nechim has been clocked bowling over 140kmps at the Edelweiss 20s Challenge.

In the final analysis it is in best interest of Indian cricket that both the leagues prosper.

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