I was extremely excited to read this morning, that Zee head honcho Subhash Chandra has decided to form the Indian Cricket League, ICL, as a professional cricket league separate from the BCCI’s structure.
While I am not a big fan of professional leagues like the NFL and the NBA because they truly do not encourage loyalty, I am also sick of having to play domestic cricket for your “state” side. Automatically, as a player playing for a “state” side, there is a tendency to believe things do not need to be fixed immediately. For example, if there ia a fielding problem, I doubt if someone is going to step up and say we need a fielding coach. If the team loses in the first round or worse, gets relegated to the second tier, the coach may not be fired at all. And of course, there is absolutely no passion among the fans today and it could be because of lack of interest in the domestic circuit but more interestingly, it could be because of lack of exposure to who is playing. How many of us know the #15 player in the Indian team? How many of us know, on the other hand, the captain of the Mumbai Ranji team? Worse, the winner of this year’s Ranji team?
But with the creation of a television network-sponsored league, there is an expectation now that there will be extensive coverage on a well-known television network, and since it is going to be a professionally run league, there will be accountability. The babus of our cricket team and the ones who aspire to be there, cannot simply say they are going to pass on the domestic circuit because now that is going to be their bread and butter. The professional league will then also need to have professional support staff. No more nominated managers and physios acting like trainers. If it is anything like the other professional sports, there will be a strict contract whereby the cricketer may not be able to do skydiving, for example. In short, the teams’ interests will drive the cricketers’ interests.
And those are all the good points. Not all is good though. Playing for the “state” does inculcate some sort of loyalty within the team. So when Sairaj Bahutule went to play for Maharashtra, there was some level of disappointment as well as a feeling that he had ditched “his team”. Whereas in a professional scenario, trades are part of the game. You play for one team one day and due to any situation with you or the team, play for another team another day. You are simply a resource that has to start working at 100% from day one and you may have many day ones in your career.
But besides the loyalty thought, there seems to be nothing wrong with a professionally run league and in fact, it may be a good idea to keep the BCCI on its toes, even though Zee has said that they are not competing with BCCI but complementing them. I don’t know how BCCI will let its contracted players play in a separate league with different commitments, but we’ll see how this plan unfolds and what happens next. I can’t wait to see it happen, if it materializes.
Congratulations, Mr. Chandra and all the best!
2 thoughts on “Indian cricket – the good news”
Well, the idea sounds good on paper. But I don’t have much hope on it, to be creating any serious impact:1. Mr. Chandra has been mostly struggling in his various new ventures. Also he is not credited with a huge long term vision, as he has chopped and changed the form of Zee TV over the years (Essel Packaging remains his brilliant success and continues to do wonderful work). Also he can be alternately trusted to make a fast buck sensing an opportunity. So not sure what his real intentions are, with respect to this announcement. 2. The BCCI will not cooperate easily. They do not want to share their spoils so easily. Zee has put pressure on BCCI by going on record to say that they want to complement BCCI. But that is only a first throw of the dice. More drama will follow and it will not really run that smoothly. 3. Players will be shit scared to abandon the BCCI umbrella if BCCI disallows. So not sure what quality of players will join the league. 4. Why are they starting with Twenty20? The competition has yet to be seriously introduced in India. All in all, the makings of a failure, me thinks..
@spm: I understand, it is not going to be easy especially given that the BCCI is the equivalent of a PSU which has been making tons of money. Why would they agree to a so-called complementary outfit with the channel reach that BCCI cannot even dream of (TV, radio, etc.). But, it is the first step in the right direction. The point I am happy about is that even though a lot of people realize the system needs to be changed, no one stepped up with the money and plan to make that change. Zee has done it. Like many firsts, it has a larger chance of failing than succeeding, but at least it will create a good case study for future endeavors in the same direction. That’s all I am saying. And of course, I don’t know why he would start with Twenty20 except that it is probably easier to sell a slam-bang version to the public than the “traditional” variety.