Posts Tagged IPL

The unsung champions of Indian cricket

As a one sport nation the easiest way to promote the culture of sports in India is through the game of cricket. Sports aficionados may say cricket & its cricketers are already overpaid and have the best deal in the world. However this is not the true picture. One needs to scratch the surface (read Indian national team and few top Ranji teams like Mumbai) to get the true picture of an average Indian cricketer. A metaphor can be best gauged from the hypothetical situation where the reflection of the health of an IT industry can be evaluated by only the performance of an Infosys or Tata consultancy; while ignoring the rest of the players in the IT sector.

I thought I should highlight the story of two young cricketers who took an unconventional decision to survive in the profession that they so dearly embraced as youngsters.

Raviraj Patil ( RHB, Mumbai Champs ICL ) : the pocket dynamo as fondly rechristened by the Aussie great Dean Jones (while witnessing his courageous innings against some of the best bowlers in the world) ; has emerged as the mainstay of the Mumbai Champs side which boasts of names like Nathan Astle, Brian Lara & Dheeraj Jadhav. Ravi comes from a modest background from the suburbs of Poona and had to make great sacrifices to take up the game of cricket. A heart wrenching story is having to take a decision as to who would board the bus to the main city centre (Him or his father ) as they could afford the fair for only a single ticket. The Father saw the young man’s heavy kit bag and made the sacrifice. This was the plight of Maharashtra’s most promising young batsman who had broken Sachin Tendulkar’s School batting record. He was the captain of the Maharashtra under-17 & under -19 teams. After scoring heavily at the under -19 level Raviraj found himself left in the oblivion with no place in any Ranji side. He even left MAharashtra to try his luck with the Baroda Ranji side but that too did not yield any results. This was despite the fact that promises were made to him after his heavy scoring at the club level. He almost wanted to quit the game in disgust when the ICL happened and the rest as they say is history. The man who found it difficult to pay a Rs20 fair to go for practice today is the proud owner of two flats in the same area he grew up in. All of 5ft 2inch the promising Champs batsman today drives around Poona in his prized possession “A Santro Car”

Abu Nechim (Fast Bowler, Royal Bengal Tigers): Abu comes from the remote part of Assam. One of the few rare fast bowling talents of the country, Abu has performed creditably for India at the under-19 world cup having single handedly destroying the English batting in the crucial semi final. The just concluded ICL season saw the “slinger –Tiger “(rechristened due to his classical side arm action) clock over 140kmps at the young age of 20yrs.)

A story full of struggle has seen Abu reach practice facilities by hanging off public transport systems as he could not afford the fair. The only relief was when the conductor would have his back to him. This gave Abu the opportunity to grab a seat. His prodigal talent would have seen him as a automatic selection at the hugely successful IPL & when queried by a local scribe if there was a hypothetical chance of his playing in the IPL, pat came the reply from the erosive pace man “ Only if the ICL is recognized and there is a merger between the leagues, still given a preference I would continue to play for my ICL team “ .

The above two stories are not about any tom, dick or Harry ; it is the story of two of domestic Indian cricket’s promising talents; this shows that till the ICL came about domestic Indian cricket was not in its best shape. It kick started the IPL where the stories of Dhinda, Ghony & Asnodkar were reflections of the rise of Patil & Nechim at the ICL.

The relevance of ICL is best exemplified by the fact that Ghoni got a chance in the Punjab Ranji side only after Luv Ablish (Chandigarh Lions ICL) shifted alliance to ICL. Therefore if Luv had not made the move IPL would have not seen a Ghoni. Probably Dhinda would have also been sidelined if Abu was available for selection for the Kolkata Knightriders.

This proves the point that ICL has a role to play in domestic Indian cricket & up-liftment of its domestic cricketers. The IPL despite its success is finding it difficult to accommodate all the domestic Indian players & will need the ICL to pass on the benefits of T20 cricket to all its domestic cricketers.

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Ranadeb Bose story proves Indian cricket needs more than one IPL

The IPL has had great success in commercial terms and we have to give it to the organizers that today city leagues have made cricket a viable career option. It is no more a Russian roulette for a young promising teenager to pursue the game as a career option. A player no longer needs to make it to the elite national team to make a living out of the sport and that is what is going to get more youngsters to pursue a career in the magnificent game of cricket.

Unfortunately with all the good achieved by IPL, it needs to introspect the negatives so that it can come out bigger, better and more beneficial for cricketers in the years to come. A lot has been written about the slapgate and franchisee-player rift and I guess with time it will get sorted out. My focus with this write up dwells on the fact ;if the IPL has been able to encompass the humongous talent pool possessed by India?  The fact that a promising player (Ranadeep Bose) who has been on the periphery of the national team has been left in the cold by his franchisee because of what can be termed as embarrassment of riches in terms of fast bowling talent in its possession. This makes a strong point that the present structure and size of the IPL cannot encompass the entire Indian pool of players.

The city based leagues was originally formulated to provide domestic talents the exposure of playing at the highest level as well as tapping the commercial viability of combining domestic talent with international players to produce some high octane cricket matches for the cricket crazy consumers of the sub continent.

It is therefore imperative for the authorities concerned to see to it that all the domestic players get to take part in the IPL. This may be more important than getting stars to take part in the IPL. After all the foremost objective of the IPL are not commercial gains but strengthening of Indian cricket.

It can be best summed up by what ace commentator Harsha Bhogle was quoted saying in a TV program “Indian cricket is a commercial success but not a cricketing success yet “.

Purists may question what good would T20 cricket do in the development process of a budding cricketer. I guess for every cricketer worth his salt Test cricket is the ultimate test. One can understand when players (both present & former) vouch for the greatness of test cricket, maybe even perennial fans like yours truly prefer the test format of the game but I Guess it is a bit of self indulgence from both players and perennial cricket fans like us to except the mass supporters (especially TV consumers) of the sport to follow test cricket. SO to draw a conclusion just of basis of the players perception can be suicidal in world of modern competitive & commercial sporting environment.

Another problem with test cricket is that it is more of an elitist format of the game which can only accommodate the cream of the talent pool in a country. However the players who play the game are rightly justified in formulating Test cricket being the real form of the game as it is the ultimate test of skills of a cricketer with the bat & ball however it is not the best format to catch the fancy of the consumer of the sport and this is where the glaring contrast lies in terms of perception of the sport from the point of view of a consumer vis a vis the players of the sport.

SO what doest T20 do for the average cricketer?

I guess it is the best format for a player to make the sport a viable career option; it is also the best format for him to get recognition from the consumer; & importantly the most viable platform to gain exposure of playing with the best in the business. These in my personal opinion is the importance of T20 cricket and the best way forward for unearthing new talent and explore new pastures for the game of cricket.

So the big question is can the IPL encompass the humongous talent pool in the country? The answer is no. it needs more than 8 teams and a 44 day calendar to do that.

So what is the solution? Either grows from a 44 day annual calendar to a 4 month calendar or a radical step to recognize other leagues like the ICL plying out of India.

The second option looks viable as it will not disrupt the international calendar at the same time encompass the entire humongous pool of players.

Which sane cricket body would not like to tap the resources of the ICL ; which possess coaches like Cullinan, Bevan, Rixon & Emburey; support staff of international quality of the likes of Jock Campbell & company. I think a ceremonial official approval of the ICL would help the BCCI tap on the resources created by the ICL as well probably pass on the commercial benefit of league cricket to one & all associated with domestic Indian cricket.

My personal perception of the IPL commissioner Lalit Modi (may be I am wrong) is that he is commercially driven in his objectives for Indian cricket. Nothing wrong with that , but in the larger picture of Indian cricket it will have to be Sharad Pawar who will have to show true leadership qualities and think out of the petty BCCI think-tank policies and focus on nurturing talent & betterment of the cricketers (both in terms of exposure & commercial gains).

Will Pawar exhibit his skills will be a wait and watch in the next few days.

After all as the head of the premier cricket body in the world it is his moral responsibility to see to it that a prodigal talent like a Rayudu, Nechim or Murtaza get full opportunity to excel in the field of cricket rather than being ostracized due to draconian restrictive & monopolistic policies and at the same time see to it that a Neeraj Patel (played only 2 IPL matches) & Ranadeep Bose (no opportunity at the IPL) get full exposure of the city based T20 format.

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Will IPL help India emerge as a sporting nation or an entertainment hub?

When the BCCI announced the much hyped IPL, most pundits applauded the effort as a revolutionary concept which would change the way we consume sports in this country. The media too went overboard requesting the proclaimed Moses of cricket (Commissioner or father of the IPL!) to take his cricketing foresight to other sporting disciplines; probably also consider a cabinet position as sports minister.

The IPL had an opportunity to change the country into a sport loving country and they had the right ammunition & resources in terms of mega bucks, high profile franchisees & star players from across the globe.

Most importantly they were gifted with the humongous brand equity of a national passion called cricket.

However in my humble capacity as a reader of the sport; the brains behind the IPL made the catastrophic blunder of positioning the league as the next big reality show, mother of all entertainment and in turn downgrading the core value of cricket and its perception amongst its patrons.

I call this a catastrophic blunder because cricket was at cross roads and had the opportunity of converting the mass base of cricket consumers into true sports lovers who value the true essence of sportsmanship & core values of cricket.

Unfortunately the IPL authorities and its broadcasting partner (notorious for dumbing cricket earlier) have taken the easier route, the mass base of cricket fans have been fed on the “tamasha” aspect of cricket instead of converting them into core sports lovers & more importantly alienating the heavy consumer ( serious cricket fan) of the sport.

My worst fears for the future IPL ventures are:

  1.  We will have more frictions between high profile egocentric franchisees, with little prior experience of running a sporting product & the core cricketing fraternity.
  2. Player discontentment fueled by the unwanted intrusion in form of the new ruthless corporate policies.
  3. Putting cricket and its core value on the backburner by creating hype around the strictly ancillary aspects like the entertainment hoopla.

 What a waste of opportunity to take India forward as a true sporting nation !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Would Moses practice restrictive & monopolistic trade policies if involved with cricket?

It was interesting to note the comment made by one of India’s finest cricketing brain in his stint as a commentator at the IPL matches. The man in question was Ravi Shastri who rechristened the IPL commissioner Lalit Modi as Moses Modi.

Sure Modi has carried out the business practice of milking the cash cow (Indian cricket) with text book precision. Nothing wrong with it, as in the competitive sporting environment that cricket survives; it was the right move so that the men who play the game could capitalize the support for the game to the fullest.

Personally I support the fact that cricketers should derive the financial benefit from such endeavors, especially the young domestic cricketers, who with their participation in the revolutionary league have achieved financial stability; an important component in the life of a professional cricketer.

But my biggest concern arises from the fact; is IPL big enough to encompass the entire humongous pool of aspiring cricketers from across India?

The million dollar question is will the proclaimed Moses of cricket look beyond commercial considerations and personal ego to help all the domestic players reap the benefit of his revolutionary concept?

City based league is a god given gift for an aspiring young cricketer & its benefit should pass on to one and all. For me the most heartening stories arising out of the IPL is the emergence of an Ashok Dhinda or a M.S. Ghoni. One of the leading dailies profiling the rise of Ghoni caught an interesting observation from Ghoni; he said that if it was not for Love Abhilish joining the ICL, he would have never made the cut into the Punjab Ranji team in turn not being considered for the IPL. So if Abhilish had not joined the ICL, IPL would have never seen the emergence of Ghoni.

This proves the point that either the IPL has to grow in size to accommodate all the players, or the BCCI has to recognize the ICL or more importantly its players. The first is difficult to achieve with the busy international commitment of the BCCI and its national team; it seems next to impossible to accommodate a window above 44 days.

Therefore in the best interest of all the domestic players the best thing the BCCI can do is recognize the ICL and derive benefits of its additional resources in making Indian cricket bigger and better.

After all for a Rayudu absorbed by ICL, a Venu Gopal has emerged for Hyderabad, for an Abu Nechim absorbed by the ICL, has seen the emergence of a Dhinda for Kolkata & the absorbing of an R Sathish by the ICL has seen the emergence of a Vidhyut Shivramakrishnan for Chennai.

SO will Mr. Moses live up to his name and walk the untested path of free economy in the world of cricket.

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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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BCCI needs to bring out the whip on erring franchisees

The Indian premiere league considered to be a revolutionary concept needs to draw the line before the term revolutionary reads imperialistic concept.

The BCCI should have been careful when they were outsourcing its league & more importantly players (assets) to organizations or individuals who have had little or no experience of managing sportsmen or sports products.

The inexperience is showing when some franchisees in their enthusiasm & deep pocket arrogance have crossed their brief while dealing with the players (especially domestic players) & are feeling the pressure of dealing with the unpredictability factor associated with a sporting product.

The IPL commissioner will have to maintain the dignity of his esteemed chair and will hopefully address the issue and take the erring franchisees to task. Already there are questions on his impartiality and autonomy as the commissioner of the league; arising from the fact that he is closely associated with at least 4 of the 8 franchisees. It is time Lalit Modi proves his credentials and restores the sanctity of the league. After all it is easy to punish a cricketer in Harbhajan or a umpire in Ameen Sahiba, but no action is taken against Farookh Engineer and franchisees who have got away with murder.

Issues the IPL commissioner should take to set the BCCI’ priority right:

The BCCI needs to get it across that as a non profit organization entertainment is not its priority and that cricket and development of its domestic talent is the priority with the IPL

  1. How could the Punjab franchisee ( Preity Zinta ) dare to ask the domestic players to leave the hotel to accommodate her page 3 friends. The Issue was widely reported in the media, but the IPL failed to take any action.
  1. The same Preity Zinta & her co owners decided to get into cost saving measures by axing some of the domestic players to trim the team size and save money. This is completely not acceptable & if the franchisee doesn’t see the long term vision of developing local talent then they have no business of running the franchisee.
  1. Now a similar strategy is being adopted by the Kolkata franchisee run by the chak de messiah, Shahrukh Khan. The latest report says that players including Indian pacer Randeb Bose . Who will claim responsibly for this insulting setback faced by these young domestic talents? (
  1. Vijay Mallaya is now questioning the cricketing wisdom of one of India’s modern cricket great in Rahul Dravid. Does Mr Mallya in his enthusiasm & influence of his friend circle overdosed with RC; have an idea of the contribution of one of India’s & more importantly Banaglore’s cricketing great ?


Entertainment and hire & fire policy are not business practices associated with sports administration and that is a lesson that the inexperienced franchisees’ need to learn fast. Hopefully they understand Human resource management another management jargon and hopefully they put that into practice , because after all their millions come because of the great game of cricket & the men who play it at the highest level.

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