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Sight Screen

Friday, June 03, 2005

Domestic revamp

Several comments, I notice, under the 'Question for you' post relating to the usefulness of playing county cricket. While waiting for the Indian section of the audience to weigh in, might as well float another one at you.
If you agree that the domestic structure is unwieldly -- too many teams; ergo, way too difficult for good players to shine especially when playing for the lesser teams; etc -- then a real revamp would need to start from that point, right?
So. Suppose you say for argument's sake that there are maybe 100, 110 players of real calibre in the country. Suppose the BCCI raffles/invites tenders/lets Dalmiya pick names out of his hat the right to create ten teams.
It's a fair bet that there will be ten corporates, at least, who are willing to pay very good money for the privilege of naming a team. Each corporate thus gets to float its team -- picking players from across the country, and not on zonal or regional considerations -- and including national players. Each corporate also has the right to pick a max of two players from abroad.
You thus have ten teams -- and since prestige rides on this one, the corporates will go flat out to create the best teams they possibly can, which means among other things comprehensive talent scouting.
You also give each corporate rights to one stadium, which will be the home base for its team. The corporate, again given the prestige value, will compete to ensure its stadium is better than the others -- the outcome being ten state of the art stadia in the country.
And you then construct a domestic season wherein the ten teams meet each other in one day and four day competition. Given the quality of the cricket, spectator interest and television coverage is guaranteed, which translates into more visibility for the younger, upcoming players and more money for the BCCI.
There is more to it, but obviously, this is modelled on soccer. And to my mind, it solves all existing problems. The pitches will be high quality, each stadium will offer great amenities for spectators, competition will be intense thanks to the presence of the national players plus the international imports, this in turn means that the transition from domestic to national level will not be as much of a quantum leap as it is now...
The idea was mooted (by Lalit Modi, among others) years ago; it gathers dust in some file in the BCCI office to date.
Why won't the BCCI go with this? Simple -- control (what do you suppose the first 'C' in BCCI stands for, huh?).
It's easy to browbeat state associations, that are dependent on the BCCI for their doles (witness the recent episode involving the TNCA, when the threat of withholding financial assistance had the association signing a softer tune); the big corporates, with cash to burn, will not however be as easy to control and manipulate.


  • Yes, the idea is great, but we need to put that in perspective. These teams can be apart from the Ranji teams. We must first realize why is there is money in sport of cricket - because people pay and come to watch it !
    People identify themselves with the teams. I can never feel proud to watch some cement cricket team; but when I go watch ( or follow in newspaper ) the team that represents Vidarbha (yes, I am from Nagpur, so what ?), I am definitely more interested because I identify with them.
    Same goes for the players. You can see how proud Sachin Tendulkar feels to represent Mumbai !
    - Shekhar Kale

    By Anonymous Shekhar Kale, at 18:43  

  • Shekhar,
    I don't agree with your comment. You don't watch sports just because you can identify with the team or because the team represents your area/state/country.
    If that were true, no one in India would follow F1 until this year, no one would follow Tennis Grand Slam singles, no one would follow the soccer world cup.
    Look at all the sports in US (NBA, NFL etc), people support teams even though they may not have anything to do with where the teams are based.
    I think if the teams are well matched, and provide good entertainment, people will watch it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19:01  

  • I think to have less no. of teams is a good idea, but I wouldnt go the complete corporate way. Splitting ranji into two tiers must have had its effect. If we feel that its not sufficient then we can split it in 3 tiers. But as one OP said, having an identity associated with a region (even all soccer, NBA, and NFL teams have that-- even though they can borrow players from anywhere).
    To start with we can have all those teams 2-3 outside professionals (to start with outside professionals within India, and even then the quality isnt good enough to generate a self sustaining model, then allow foreign players as well).

    Again, I am not against free market. But whats the purpose of this whole exercise. IS it to create the most attractive brand of domestic cricket or is it to produce best Indian national team while making sure there is sufficient revenue being generated. if its the 2nd, then lets keep the regional teams, but market them well. I am sure if the domestic cricket is marketed well, there is a LOT of money to be made. There is enough apetite for watching good cricket on TV, and a match between Mumbai and Tamilnadu can be fascinating even today!

    and even without getting corporations involved in the business of managing cricket there is a lot of money to be made(i.e. the state associations themselves can start acting as corporations and become self sufficient or for that matter profitable through all the revenues from domestic cricket)


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19:13  

  • The idea is pretty good. Yes, why the BCCI does not do it is also based on control and also laziness. What do these guys do anyway. Nothing, they travel first class and discuss when the next meeting takes place and that too in a 5-star hotel.

    Also, most of the youngsters should get a part of the training in Australia and England, so that they get used to these conditions when they are young.

    Also as long as we have docile nice wickets where you can just play through the line, we will still be found wanting when we go overseas in Aus/NZ. We require better pitches, better coaches and committed players (which would be the case, if there is more money pumped into the game at the national level).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 19:55  

  • Another point here is about yongsters. We all talk about selecting best players, but we hardly talk about under 19. under 17, under 15 etc. That is where the real stars form or fade away.
    Greg Chappell has got that point right when he talks about identifying talent.
    But that is such a broad statement - we need to identify talent at grass root level.
    Is there a plan in place for that ?

    It is like saying, we all need to exercise and keep fit. But it is a surprise that unless there is a fitness trainer, Indian players do not keep fit !

    Hmm, I wonder ( like many others ) where the next talent is going to come from.

    By Blogger Shekhar Kale, at 20:14  

  • Prem, this is an excellent idea. And I dont think BCCI can not be persuaded on this. After all they still retain control over the 'team India' and all the money coming along with it. After all, more than the control, they are after the money. In fact, with this corporate sponsored team structure they are in for raking more money. And maybe, this strcuture can be used for ODI format of games. Ranji structure can also be revamped to make it mor attractive. Since local games would be popular, there are chances that this may benefit ranj games also. I think there is a lot of revenue in this scheme, and someone ought to show this to BCCI, I'm sure things would be different then :-)

    And while on that topic, why can't this structure be floated irrespective of the BCCI ? After all, most of the players are outside their contract anyways, and the local grounds etc also. Maybe if this thing works well, the top players can also rally to get this thing included in their BCCI contract. What does BCCI stand to loose anyways ? They're not making money in domestic circuit, I would think that some of their spending would reduce with this !

    By Blogger worma, at 01:21  

  • a good idea to make it like football leagues. Yes, but making it totally a corporate sponsored stuff mite lead to problems of corporates attracting indian team players during the off-season etc..yes,BCCI should try to include foreign players/foreign teams in domestic matches..that'll improve quality & other is to send under 17/19 players regularly abroad to play...

    By Blogger yogi, at 02:56  

  • I follow the progress of Haryana and am glad to see them in the Elite division. There are some good young players in this team and this is the same with other Plate division teams like Bisla, Yashpal Singh and MS Dhoni. India is always finding some good young players from the India under-19 teams.

    So, I am wondering how many of these young players will want to play cricket for a living if there is no organised State cricket for them.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 15:10  

  • Here is my solution to the domestic game. I think it is very similar to yours.

    What about a Superleague which runs concurrently with the Ranjis? The teams in these leagues can contract say 12 players for 3+ years. There would be allowance for say a 3- 5 floaters who can be drafted in from the Ranjis, Indian players or overseas.

    I would exclude regular Indian players but naturally they would be allowed to play as floaters or by special dispensation.

    Rules should make put limits on the amount of spending on players, overseas stars.

    I feel the league must have its own power structure, retain most of the revenues and use the private sector expertise. BCCI should still support the Ranji teams but the Superleague must be able to support itself.

    I would suggest around 6 franchises but this is up for debate.

    What would I expect from his venture?

    1. Monies for BCCI for the rights to operate the franchises

    2. Budgeoning market for TV rights

    3. Fans being well looked after in the stands, corporate hospitality day-night games and 20-20 games

    4. Franchises using more than one bases not necessarily in the same Zone.

    5. Players will be paid handsomely and emerging as stars.

    5. Very high calibre teams and close contests.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 17:30  

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