Monday, October 09, 2006

BCCI's bid for global rights irks some people

BCCI's announcement of bidding for global rights of ICC events has elicited some strange response from certain quarters. Scyld Berry writing in Telegraph rants about "India's bid for world domination". So, according to Berry, was Murdoch's Global Cricket Corporation, which owned the rights for last 2 world cups, running world cricket for last four years? Or does Berry fear about world domination only because it has come from an Indian organization?

A quote on Cricinfo goes even further, questioning BCCI's capability to handle such rights:
"This is an organisation that only set up its own website in the last year or so. Not so long ago, frustrated observers would complain that it was incapable of answering a letter. Now it is saying, 'We'll deal with worldwide television for you'."
Wisden Almanack editor Matthew Engel on the Indian board's move to bid for global TV rights

Now, could someone please tell Mr. Engel that BCCI has successfully sold the rights for its home matches for close to a billion dollars, so they know a thing or two about selling television rights? Incidentally, BCCI is in the process of setting up its portal ( which according to Lalit Modi will be the best sports portal in the world. Is that what is worrying Cricinfo and Mr. Engel (Wisden owns Cricinfo, btw)?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Cricket moving to club format - gonna happen soon?

Google search threw up couple of slightly old interviews with BCCI vice-president Lalit Modi. Very interesting...

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

"Modi also said a national inter-city league and a Twenty20 tournament, in which each side plays 20 overs, would be launched in the 2006-07 season.

'The inter-city league will be on the lines of the Premier Football League (of England), and we will have separate television, merchandising and grounds right for that,' he disclosed, and added it would not be part of the rights that Nimbus holds.

'It will probably become the single largest revenue earner for the BCCI in the years to come, if we structure it right. It will also help us drive crowds back to domestic cricket and help build more stars.'

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Now to cricket. Do you see it eventually moving away from its nation-based structure to something like football, where the real interest lies in club rivalries?

Oh yes. It's gonna happen. The intercity cricket league is going to happen. My next big project which I'm going to announce. I'm still not ready for it because the game has evolved since the last time I developed it. It will be a home-and away concept. We hope to launch that by the end of the year.

He also talks about his earlier attempts to start an inter-city league almost a decade back which was scuttled by the then BCCI. This guy is smart, I tell ya.

No wonder he doesn't mind taking ICC on. He believes the domestic league will be the biggest revenue earner for BCCI, rather than this stupid international cricket.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

An afternoon of adventure

I was studying in fifth standard when we shifted our house from Agrahara, one of Mysore's older central localities to Saraswathipuram, a relatively posher locality on the outskirts of the city("extension", as we used to call these outlying new areas then). Consequently, I had to change schools too. Probably a month had passed in the new school when one day the school was declared closed for afternoon due to some teachers' meeting or something. My younger brother, two years junior to me, was also studying in the same school. We finished our lunch boxes and then weren't sure what to do for the afternoon. No one will be home and we didn't have the key. Mom used to teach in a school in another part of the town, close to Agrahara. Dad's office was close to our school, but we knew he won't let the two of us go home by ourselves - he will either ask us to stay with him in the office or insist on taking us home. Idea of spending the rest of the day with our disciplinarian dad didn't quite excite us.

That's when we got the idea. Let's go to ajji's place! Our ajji (mother's mother) was also staying in Agrahara, quite close to our old place. When we were staying in Agrahara, our daily routine used to be to go to ajji's place on the way to school in the morning and drop off a set of clothes to be used later in the day (and anything else mom had asked us to carry). Once the school was over in the afternoon, go back to ajji's place, change from school uniform to "home clothes", eat the snacks that ajji has prepared (dosa, uppittu, idli, chapati, etc) and then run off to play with friends. Mom and her sisters used to come back from work later in the evening, gossip among themselves and with their mother for a couple of hours over snacks and coffee. By the time we were done with our play and Mom with her gossip it used to be well past 7 in the evening. Off we used to go to our place, just in time to have dinner, finish whatever little homework that is to be done and then to bed. As a result we used to spend a good portion of our waking and non-schooling hours in ajji's place, all our friends were from that street rather than near our own house etc. Since ajji was always at home, we never had to worry about things like what to do if the school closed early.

Now, barely a month in the new locality and new school, we were already missing ajji, aunts and our friends from that street. We had been there just once or twice in the whole month and for those who were used to spending close to 4 hours everyday there, that was clearly not enough. So this half-day closure of school (remember where we started?) came as a blessing for us. Going to ajji's place for the afternoon, having the snacks prepared by her and reconnecting with friends there seemed like a perfect idea. But then came the question - how to go there? It was quite far, atleast by Mysore standards. We could have taken the city bus, but neither of us had a penny in our pockets to pay for the bus fare. But our enthusiasm to go to our favourite granny's place was such that we didn't let such petty things come in our way. We decided to walk all the way.

By the time we reached Saraswathipuram 1st main bus stop, barely 1/10th of the total distance to be covered, we were already a bit tired and the thought of going ticketless on city bus did cross our minds. But a sense of self-respect and the fear of getting caught (more of latter than former) prevented us from taking that route, and we marched on. Soon we reached district court office and the road diverged there - which led us to our next problem. Which road to take? As I said, we had only been in S.Puram for a month and weren't much familiar with the route. After a bit of thought, I said "Left" and off we went. It was only when we reached RTO office and saw the familiar landmark of a house with a chariot on top that we were sure we were on right track. We continued with more vigour, now certain that reaching the destination was only a matter of time.

Soon we reached Siddappa Square and mom's school was nearby. We entered the school and mom was surprised to see us there. "How come you are here? How did you come all the way from school?". "School is closed for afternoon, amma. We came walking". She was close to tears hearing that. Her colleagues started hugging us and we felt like some heroes. Mom hurriedly took permission for half an hour from her headmaster, we took an auto and headed to ajji's place. Mom dropped us off and went back to school. More hugging and crying by Ajji. She prepared our favorite snack - akki rotti. Mom and aunts came back in the evening and the entire discussion that day was focussed on our heroic walk. There was quite a bit of crying and some cursing of our dad too, for having shifted to that "godforsaken" place against everyone's wishes and for having separated the kids from their grandparents.

As for us - we enjoyed the walk, enjoyed all the attention and were happy to be back in familiar place with familiar people. And oh, akki rotti I had that day is probably the best I have ever had in my whole life. All things considered, not a bad afternoon.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Who makes money from Cricket?

It is fairly well-known that India accounts for close to 70% of the total cricket market. Thanks to BCCI's recent much-publicised broadcasting deals, it is also fairly well-known that the Indian board is the richest among all cricket boards. Yet, what is not so well-known is that this huge Indian market for cricket, apart from enriching BCCI, also sustains many of the cricket boards world-wide. That is because of the system cricket follows where the hosts own all rights for the series they organize. So when India goes and plays a series abroad, it is those foreign boards who make money from the Indian market. We play a series in Pakistan and PCB makes a cool $150 million from Indian market. We play in Windies and WICB hits a jackpot. We play the world cup or a Champions Trophy and it is the ICC which makes mega bucks out of those events. So much so that, most of the boards, like Windies, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, etc are surviving mostly on the money they make by hosting India or from the handouts from ICC.

Sometimes, the consequences of such a system goes beyond financial. PCB for example, has awarded the rights to matches held in Pakistan to Dubai-based Ten Sports channel, owned by Sheikh Abdul Rahman Bukhatir. Now, Bukhatir is apparently still close to Dawood Ibrahim and played a key role in Dawood's daughter's wedding. Which means, every time we play in Pakistan and millions of Indians tune into watch the match, it is quite possible that we are contributing to the coffers of India's most wanted terrorist.

Good thing is, there is a simple solution to solve this problem. All that needs to be done is, instead of having the hosts own all the rights, let each board have the telecast rights for its territory irrespective of where the match is being played. So BCCI owns the rights for Indian territory, irrespective of whether it is a home series or away series or world cup. Similarly, ECB for UK territory, CA for Australia, PCB for Pakistan and so on. Let the ICC own the rights for all neutral territories like USA, Far east etc. That way, every board makes money from the market they have created, rather than freeloading off others' markets. Sure, that could lead to some of the boards like Windies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka going bankrupt, but so be it. If there isn't enough market there for cricket to survive, there is no point in sustaining those boards artificially. There is enough demand for cricket in India, Pakistan, Australia and England and let cricket cater to that market well. If you think four teams aren't enough to have a decent league, then create multiple teams within India. As it is we have enough diversity based on region/language etc that we can create a good rivalry between these teams. Let these regional teams also import players from outside to strengthen the team initially, while we develop strong teams. So a league of eight teams, say South/North/West/East India, Pakistan, Australia, England and Africa will make for terrific cricket. The markets will also be pretty evenly balanced, so you won't have the current situation where India accounts for 70% of the market. Allow for movement of players from team to team, so that the players can also earn their true market value. As it is, in the current system, the players can only play for one team, which means they are the bonded labourers of their respective board. A few can make money from advertising, but those who can't have to live on the pittance that the board pays them. If you allow for movement of players, they will also be more competitive and that makes for good cricket.