Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Is this financial clout?

BCCI seems to have done it again. It has once again used its clout to affect the judgement of one more disciplinary action in the international cricketing circles.

This time it has used its clout to have the suspension of Shoaib Akhtar suitably suspended so that he could play for Shahrukh Khan's team - Kolkata Knight Riders. The day the judgement against Shoaib had been announced Lalit Modi had gone public saying that he would ensure that Shoaib plays in the Indian Premier League.

He has moved subtlely but surely and done what he had promised.

I am not against Shoaib Akhtar playing in the IPL matches. He is a good player and it would be a pleasure to watch him in action. However, it surely surprises me how the Indian cricket board is using its clout to influence the way the game is governed internationally.

On one hand it has initiated proceedings against Harbhajan Singh and suspended for striking fellow player Shreesanth and at the same time it has apparently coaxed and influenced another country's cricket board, that too in a very similar case where the judgement had been passed against Shoaib for entering into a brawl with his fellow teammate.

The board had used its clout only recently when Harbhajan Singh had been suspended by the match referee in Australia for the alleged racist comments passed by him during an arguement with Andrew Symonds.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

IPL Season starts soon - monetizing of cricket

That's it folks - its time to see the real show!

A lot has been said and promised by the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) and its Indian Premier League (IPL). We have witnessed a string of auctions and bidding processes in the media for a sporting event that is expected to revolutionize the way we look at sports in the country.

India's richest sport - CRICKET - is all set to launch the first tournament of its much glamorized Indian Premier League (IPL).

Starting 18 April 2008 at Bangalore with the first match that will be played between Vijay Mallya's Royal Challengers and Shahrukh Khan's Knight Riders. The tournament will culminate at Mumbai on 1 June 2008.

It is time to see, on the ground, the actual sport of the event that has hogged so much media space, for more than the last couple of months, for its sensational auctions and high value bids. I am waiting to see whether the event is able to meet the expectations of its organizers. Whether it is able to gain the level of popularity and kind of viewership that its sponsors are dreaming for.

A lot of money has already been put in and a lot is at stake in the tournament. Several thousands of crores of rupees have been pumped in at various stages by the franchise owners and sponsor partners.

I don't think anyone is spending so much money for charity. Each and every one of those involved has made an investment and is out to make money. One can expect these parties to utilize every gimmick possible to motivate cricket fans to loosen their purse strings and shell out money. Considering the amount of investment done it is obvious that they are looking forward to making a lot of money.

Could the Indian Premier League be the trigger that the national economy is looking for? Presently, grapling with inflation and facing a industrial slowdown coupled with an global financial turmoil the economy is desparately seeking a stimulus to put it back on the growth track.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Indian Premier League - the business of cricket

The recent auctions by Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) has transformed cricket from a sport to a commercial venture.

If my calculations are correct, I believe already the gross bidding may have exceeded Rs. 6000 crores (US$ 1.5 billion) including franchises, players and the television rights bought by Sony Entertainment for more than 3000 crore.

It was really surprising to see the amount of commercial interest displayed by some of the top business houses and Bollywood personalities in bidding first for the franchises and then for the players.

With so much publicity around the financials at stake around the favourite Indian sport, it remains to be seen how the common man reacts to the issue. After all, it is the common man who is not only expected to meet the entire cost, he is expected to deliver a handsome profit for the bidders who have already invested so much.

With eight local (Indian) teams with players from all over the world, surely the national loyality issue is out of the picture. It would be interesting to see how much support these games could get what different venues of generating revenue are adopted. Obviously, the most popular route will be advertising and ticket sales.

If the anticipated advertisement revenue is generated and if all the advertising transforms into additional business for the advertisers it could mean a massive spurt in growth in the overall national economy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Things beyond the game of cricket

A lot has happened in the international cricket scenario, especially with relevance to India, since I lasted posted on this blog. First the Indo-Pak series in India and then 2 test matches in the current Indian tour of Australia.

After the second test match at Sydney fans of this gentleman's game witnessed happenings that many would have wished never happened. Something that did no good for the great game. At one stage the turn of events indicated that the Indian team might abandon the Australia tour in between and return home. Fortunately, that did not happen. Management of both teams were quick to dismiss all such speculation as rumour.

Sydney Test Match was marred by controversy over the quality of umpiring and the suspension of Harbhajan Singh without conclusive evidence over racial abuse charges. Television clearly played and replayed several times the occasions where bad umpiring was evidently evident.

For once, the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) showed some spine put its foot down over the controversy and insisted that Harbhajan's suspension be revoked, at least until ICC takes the final decision is taken. It also protested over the quality of umpiring. To show its seriousness over the matter BCCI had instructed its team to stay put in Sydney until the matter was resolved.

I found Sachin Tendulkar's stand in the matter very impressive. He had communicated to BCCI chief Sharad Pawar that Harbhajan was not guilty and that the Board should support Harbhajan in the matter. It is believed that it was his suggestion to stay put in Sydney until the suspension is revoked.

Also noteworthy was the support the Indians received from the international media in the matter. Even the media in Australia spoke strongly over the sportsmanship displayed by the Australian side. Some went to the extent of demanding Captain Ricky Ponting's resignation.

The tour was resumed only after ICC suspended the suspension order until it passed a final order in the matter. The controversial umpire too has been replaced for the 3rd test match at Perth.

One can only wish that such events do not repeat.