B.C.C.I OR B.T.T.I ?June 2, 2008
The day after- After the IPL got over yesterday with Rajasthan Royals emerging as the clear winners, the Delhi times made an assessment of IPL in an article “Figuring out IPL”
It states “IPL will bring about Rs 12 billion every year in cricket. India’s total budget last year was Rs 4.9 million. BCCI will earn Rs 3.5 billion from the first year of IPL which is more than Rs 2.3 billion it earned in 2007. The forecasted profit of BCCI is a whopping Rs 43 billion for the next 10 years”. Almost seems that 20 overs cricket can support ofher forms of cricket just as cricket sometimes supports other sports in India. Other sports lack public support; the cricket administrators should see the writing on the wall and go for the form of cricket which the fans like the most- it is the public which makes cricket in Inida a popular sport and the cricketers demi-gods.
Since there is a lot of breast beating over the commercialization of the game, Sachin Tendulkar’s views on the issue are worth noting “ “I don’t personally feel that, you know, (IPL is) dumbing down the game. It’s just another version of cricket. Test cricket is there and then they started One-day cricket many years ago and One-day cricket has been a tremendous success and if the game is gonna get globalised in the form of IPL, then why not? It’s better for cricket,” he added in defence of the league that has been criticized for being too glamorous and money-centric.The criticism of money centric is as silly as our obsession with Nehruvian socialism once upon a time which liberalization has proved time and again.
A few days ago, Mr Lalit modi had mooted the suggestion that IPL should be held twice a year which the President of BCCI, Mr Sharad Pawar deemed impractical because of the tight cricket schedules. This like missing the wood for the trees. The so called commercialization of the game has become possible only because of its public support. Look at the advantages of 20/20 match- gets over in 3 hours with thrilling results as against 5 days of boring cricket with impending draws, can be played at night throughout the year(except winters) as against day time which is office going time, is assured of public support again and the possibility of going international as Tendulkar pointed out, grooms captains among players like Sehwag, Yuvraj, Harbhajan singh etc.
One wonders why anybody would like to watch Test or even one day cricket anymore which in any case used to be watched only when it became interesting(Tests). The TRP ratings say it all- it was a mind boggling 8.2 in the first two weeks, 8 at others and has always been above 5. Shahrukh Khan’s Paanchvi Pass has TRP’s of 4 and serials like Kyunki Saas bhi kabhi bahu thi TRPs averaged at 5. By all accounts , the IPL is Paanchvi Pass(Five star success) and the way it is going, it won’t be long before it replaces traditional forms of cricket and in the future, we shall say- Kyunki T20 bhi kabhi test/one day thi. Prominent journalists have written about how cheerleaders should be left alone and the moral police should not act as spoilsports; actually it is Test cricket which requires these cheerleaders and I doubt they shall be able to save that form of the game even if they choose to go all the way with their act.
Lalit Modi had also compared an IPL match to an entertaining Bollywood film which is bang on target because it does make a good substitute and is a good alternative. The public support for IPL reminds of the song from one of yesteryear’s greatest Director of Hindi films, the late Mr Manmohan Desai. A song from his film, Roti goes something like this “Yeh tau public hai yeh sab jaanti hai, public hai” . The cricket Administrators should read Peter Drucker’s “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” where there are several examples of company failures(bankruptcy) who fail to read and follow the market forces. That apart, management is about leverage- getting more for less which a 20 over match represents. I don’t think anybody can watch even the best of Bollywood films for five days; Test cricket is basically impractical and outdated.
Though too many matches can sometimes be a case of “Familiarity breeds contempt”, on the whole 20/20 are more practical and enjoyable and should be spaced evenly throughout the year and preferably with countries playing one another. 20/20 should be the rule and not the exception. So much so that the B.C.C.I should stand now for Boring Cricket Curbing Initiatives and convert its name to B.T.T.I- Board for Twenty Twenty in India.
After writing the above, former cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar wrote in the Times of India that while playing Ranji Trohy, he was used to empty stands but 20/20 had the kind of crowds that could prepare a player for the big picture occasion. Another article stated how families who watched matches in groups are going to miss 20/20. Cricket Adminsitrators should drop other forms of cricket the way Australians drop their cricketers ruthlessly– Saare Niyam tod dau, Test cricket khelna chod do.