Posts Tagged privatization

Cricket undergoing a period of metamorphosis

The phenomenon of globalization has affected national economies, industry sectors & people all across the globe. It was only a matter of time before it affected the cricket fraternity & today we are seeing cricket under the influence of that transformation.

A bit of trivia indulgence takes us back to the Packer phenomenon, which dealt with rights, social & financial uplift-men of players  In terms of a metaphor we can describe the Packer era as the” INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION” in the world of cricket.

On the other hand the T20 phenomenon and the launch of the ICL & Stanford league is a metaphor of globalization & privatization of the sport and it is for public sector units (read BCCI & ICC) of the sport to acclimatize to the new change or perish.

The BCCI stance to leagues like the ICL has been like the iconic stance take by Ford motors which once shoved products with the approach of “you can have a car in any color as long as it is black”; how relevant that iconic positioning holds today for Ford is anybody’s guess. Similarly the BCCI needs to look at the change in order the sports consumption pattern is undergoing & change its approach towards two areas; first private entrepreneurship in the world of cricket & the basic product dynamics of all three forms of the game.

ICL which started the city league format has seen its innovative format being replicated around the world. With it’s first off the blocks advantage today the ICL has built a formidable resource base in terms of player pool, facilities and support staff and it is for the BCCI to take a stance of either a synergistic approach or antagonistic position. The BCCI needs to understand that with a tight international calendar and large player pool it needs to outsource some portions of its domestic cricket to a private body so that majority of  Indian domestic players receive the best of financial & social benefits.

It is a logical business solution of outsourcing & as a sports organization which prides itself on its financial success; it baffles me as to how the messiahs of modern sports management (Lalit Modi & CO) do not see the benefit of doing the same.

The rich representation of the ICL players in what is probably the oldest cricket league in the world (English County), was as an eye opener for cricket pundits who so far took the bait that ICL was a league of second rung and retired players.

The ICL is in the growth mode & with every tournament has thrown up a stronger player base (look at the progression in its foreign player signing since its inception) & therefore it is logical for the BCCI to bring the ICL under its fold to capitalize on the ICL resources.

Some may say that with IPL the BCCI has proved its might, but on the other hand the IPL has opened a Pandora’s Box which has seen countering polices adopted by old guards (ECB& PCB) against the shift in power. The result is initiatives like Stanford-ECB tie up or a proposed Pakistan Cricket League.

It would be a catastrophic mistake to rest on the inaugural IPL laurels.  New leagues and initiatives will mean new challenges for the IPL in forthcoming editions. Also one needs to understand that the IPL has monetized its product financially to its full potential. This is at least for the next couple of years till they add new teams & increase the IPL calendar. On other hand, Stanford & ICL are in the growth mode; two years is a long time and things may just take a U-turn if the BCCI stance remains static.

The second point that ICC needs to address is the product format of especially its two longer formats of the game, One day internationals & Test cricket.

If they still rest on artificial assumptions that test cricket is the supreme format of the game (based on ex- players opinion) then they will be in for a rude shock. The arrival of T20 format is like the introduction of private news channels in the world of single state broadcaster or private telecom operators in the ruling times of BSNL & MTNL.

This area has been identified by astute readers of the game like Jaideep Ghosh ( & Harsha Bhogle (ESPN Star). Jaideep has thrown light of having a 125 over format in tests,(Ref:  Harsha has dwelled on the introduction of two innings format for the one- dayers.

It is time for the ICC to consider these opinions with utmost seriousness; after all it survives  in the modern competitive sporting scenario with mass sporting disciplines like soccer , Formula-1 & rugby to name a few.

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