Tag: IPL

Too much cricket

There is the story of a man who killed the goose that laid golden eggs. Similar is the case with BCCI.

Recent ODI series in India against England witnessed large number of empty seats in Hyderabad, Delhi, Mohali, Bombay and Calcutta. There was drop in television viewing. The law of diminishing returns was at work. Within six months of World Cup interest in cricket had declined. During World Cup there were long queues for tickets for matches played by India and in some cases there was lathi charge. For the past four years there have been Tests, ODIs and T20s one after the other and people were bound to lose interest at some point.

When IPL began it provided an alternative to people fed up with K serials. Soon K serials disappeared. In 2009 and 2010 T20 World Cup was after IPL. In 2011 IPL was after ODI World Cup which India won and there was less interest in IPL.

Many cities host at least one Test or ODI every year. In those cities people have spent enough money and seen enough cricket. At one time when Tests were few and there was no TV in most parts of India every stadium used to be full for every Test. Then came ODIs, more Tests and spread of TV. Crowds for Tests in stadia declined. ODIs had full crowds. Then ODIs featuring India had full crowds and other ODIs had less spectators, sometimes very few in a stadium. Now even ODIs featuring India do not have full crowds.

Many Indians watch football and car race and interest in cricket is likely to decline. With less people watching there will be less money and that means decline of BCCI’s clout. That may mean politicians and businessmen leaving BCCI and cricketers running BCCI.

Club over country

There is a feeling that cricketers prefer club over country. Gautam Gambhir playing IPL matches when he had an injury and opting out of West Indies tour is one instance. As Dean Jones put it was a choice between 11 crores for IPL and 2 crores for West Indies tour. It is said that as per contract Gautam Gambhir would have got the full amount of 11 crores for IPL if he had played five matches. He did not have to play other matches. However the contract could have something in fine print that required Gautam Gambhir to play all matches to get the full amount. When Sri Lanka wanted its players to return early for practice for England tour they were told that payments to players will be held up. Lasit Malinga retired from Test cricket instead of giving up IPL.

BCCI owns IPL. Franchisees pay money to BCCI and players. They want to recover their money. Franchisees drop players whom they do not want. BCCI wants money and does not care about players getting medals for country and did not send a team to Asian Games.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh are not in ODI team for West Indies tour and some of them will miss Tests. Zaheer Khan did not ask for rest. BCCI has rested him. Some feel India is sending its B team to West Indies.

Making a choice between club and country is limited to few players. For those who have played many Tests and ODIs and are sure of their place in the team it does not mean much playing for the country. Players who are tired are given rest. Some players are in ODI team but not in Test team and vice versa. Players who play both formats ask for rest. Players who play one format don’t ask for rest. Players of ODI team are also in T20 team.

If players get more money for playing for the country than playing for club they will opt for country.

Cricketers play for money and they are not hesitant about it. When the team won the world cup, BCCI gave one crore rupees each to players. BCCI was not obliged to give. But cricketers demanded five crore rupees each which was a surprise. The demand was justified by senior cricketers saying that only top players benefit and future is uncertain. When everyone is given the same amount it is wrong to say only top players benefit. All know future is uncertain. BCCI again gave one crore rupees each to players.

Cricketers today make more money than ever before. Besides money from cricket they make money from endorsement of various products. If a cricketer is presented with the choice of receiving Padma Shree from the president of India or earning one crore rupees by shooting for an ad film and he chooses to do the ad film there is nothing strange about it.

TRPs for IPL 4 were lower than any previous edition. If franchisees find IPL a loss-making venture they will not pay huge sums to cricketers and the problem of choosing between club and country will disappear.

India and Cricket Word Cup 2011

India hosts Cricket Word Cup 2011. If India wins it will make history.

No host country has won Cricket Word Cup. Sri Lanka was a co-host country that played semi-final and final outside Sri Lanka in 1996. India hosted Cricket Word Cup in 1987 and 1996. Both times it lost in semi-finals. Some say Indian cricketers were told to lose the semi-final in 1996 to avoid playing final in Pakistan. If that is the case the cricketers who played that semi-final should go public about who told them to lose the match. There was bottle throwing during the match and when match referee Clive Lloyd called off the match and awarded it to Sri Lanka India were eight wickets down and Vinod Kambli who was batting wanted to continue the match, pleaded with Clive Lloyd, and was in tears when the match was awarded to Sri Lanka.

No host country except England in 1979 has reached the final in Cricket Word Cup. India, Australia, Pakistan, South Africa and West Indies did not reach finals as hosts.

Most of the time the team that batted first has won the Cricket Word Cup. In 1996 semi-final and 2003 final India had won the toss and elected to field. In 1996 commentators had expressed shock at India’s decision to field first. Ravi Shastri had commented that when Australia batted first Ricky Ponting’s batting average was 144 and when Australia batted second Ricky Ponting’s batting average was 20. In India versus Australia matches when Australia batted first it had won all the matches and when it battled second India had won 44% of the matches. When Zaheer Khan bowled the first over and conceded 15 runs, eight of them extras. In 1983 final West Indies had won the toss and elected to field and India won the cup.

Some take it for granted that India will reach the quarter-final. They are sure that India will defeat Ireland and Holland in group matches. Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties and inglorious match-fixings. This time there are no super six or super eight matches. In 1999 India did not reach super six and in 2003 India did not reach super eight. In 1999 India and South Africa lost to Zimbabwe in group matches. In 2003 India lost to Bangladesh and Pakistan lost to Ireland in group matches. The loss in 2003 was bad for sponsors and advertisers who had banked on India making it to next round. One soft drink company had to revise its TV ad. There is a saying: Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.

India’s hosting of Cricket Word Cup 2011 has encountered a problem as Sports Ministry under Mohinder Singh Gill on 17/1/2011 has derecognized BCCI as a National Sports Federation/Apex Body for cricket in India as BCCI has not complied with the mandatory requirements of submitting necessary documents. This has resulted in withdrawal of exemption to pay customs duty on goods imported by BCCI or its affiliates. On 19/1/2001 Ajay Maken became Sports Minister. If BCCI does not reach a settlement with Sports Ministry it will have to manage security of cricketers and grounds on its own.

Wankhede Stadium and Eden Garden are not ready. There was no need to renovate these two stadia. Now the date for Eden Garden to be ready is 5/2/2011. The excuse for delay for Eden Garden is IPL 3. For Wankhede Stadium there is no excuse. This reminds of Commonwealth Games mess.