Posts Tagged tendulkar

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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A tale of two Mumbai legends Lara & Tendulkar

It is inevitable that comparisons are drawn between the two city based leagues plying their trade out of India. Sometimes some similarities between the two leagues seem spooky but are real.

One story that has caught my attention is probably two of the greatest batsmen in Sachin Tendulkar & Brian Charles Lara playing for the IPL and ICL teams respectively, representing the magnificent city of Mumbai.

When Lara aligned himself with the pioneering ICL by taking charge of the Mumbai Champs side he has the pressure of maintaining Mumbai’s supremacy in the new format of the game, after all he had taken over the helm of affairs of the side representing the nerve centre of Indian cricket.

Lara could not maintain Mumbai’s supremacy to the T20 level. The dismal performance of the Champs was a major setback for the fans of ICL for whom the biggest draw in the first year was undoubtedly Lara. The second tournament of the ICL too received a setback with an untimely injury to the master south-paw and was probably the only disappointment for the ICL organizers and its ever growing fan base at the Edelweiss 20s Challenge (ICL’s 2nd T20 tournament). To its credit the ICL has found new heroes and new champions (both in terms of players & teams) to catch the imagination of the domestic Indian cricket fan.

The IPL which was a bigger platform saw Mumbai represented by the Mumbai Indians & the other great batsman and a natural son of Mumbai at the helm of affairs. Almost in his spooky resemblance to his ICL & West Indian counterpart, Tendulkar was injured for the first half of the inaugural IPL season. Even once he set his foot in the arena of city based T20 format, Tendulkar had produced an under-par display of his humongous talent; like Lara, Tendulkar found it difficult to crack the T20 code.

In the larger picture though there can be no better metaphor for Mumbai Cricket than Tendulkar and Lara at helm of affairs of their respective teams; all three stand for great achievements, supreme dominance and pedigreed reputations. It is also important to note that Mumbai cricket, Tendulkar and Lara would be keen crack the T20 code which has emerged as the latest vibrant phenomenon in the world of cricket.

Mumbai cricket and its patrons are proud of their rich history and its contribution of to the game. A Mumbai cricket fans’ vociferous and sometimes almost fanatical support remains unparallel in the history of the game and it would be interesting to see how the two legends devise methodologies to crack the T20 code on both personal and team fronts in the future editions of the ICL & IPL.

Also noteworthy may be the fact that with T20 expected to be the next big thing in the world of cricket; will Mumbai be able to register its dominance in the latest format of the game or will the mantle of nerve centre of Indian cricket pass onto a Chennai (strong teams in both ICL & IPL in the form of Chennai Superstars & Chennai Super kings), Hyderabad (Hyderabad Heroes) or Chandigarh (Chandigarh Lions & Kings X1 Punjab)

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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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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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