Thursday, April 17, 2008

KSCA all set for IPL Opener

Preparations were going on full swing at the KSCA for tomorrow's inauguration of what is being described as watershed event in the history of cricket. It looked more like a giant discotheque than a cricket stadium - what with laser lights flashing, cheerleaders practicing in one corner of the stadium and stage being given final touches. It was a riot of colours and here's hoping that the tournament will be even more colourful and exciting.

Oh, tickets are completely sold out for tomorrow's match, if you are to believe the club functionaries walking around in the stadium.
There were quite a few people standing around hoping to get a ticket somehow.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Don't shed tears for Cricinfo

The editors at Cricinfo are crying themselves hoarse over BCCI's decision to bar websites from getting access to IPL match photographs. Apparently, it is a "denial of their rights as a media organization" , one which according to the editors is "serving" millions of cricket fans. I don't understand this denial of right business. As far as I understand, IPL is an event organized by BCCI, a private club, and as such surely they are well within their rights to decide who they allow to cover their events and who they don't. On what basis does Cricinfo assume that it is their right to be allowed to cover IPL?

What is even more disingenuous is this attempt to project themselves as some sort of charity organization providing a service to the cricket fans and to the game at large. And it is the height of hypocrisy for a website owned by Disney, of all companies, to be crying about another organization trying to protect its copyrights. I mean, Disney is the past master when it comes to copyright protection. Ever heard of Digital Media Copyright Act?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Be Patriotic, Support IPL!

It is amusing to read all this outrage at players being auctioned and bought by IPL franchises. "Cricket has become a business now" goes the refrain. Let's face it. Cricket didn't become a business with the introduction of IPL. It has been a big business for more than a decade now. ICC sold the rights for its World Cups and other tournaments for a whopping billion dollars recently. Was that not a business deal? The reason players play the game is because they get paid by their boards and sponsors. The reason boards organise matches is because they are paid by the broadcasters. The reason broadcasters pay huge sums for rights and show the game on their channels is because they make money from advertisers. And the reason advertisers pay broadcasters is because in between watching cricket we watch their ads too (or vice versa) and then go out and buy those products. As simple as that. It is an ad-driven, eyeball-driven business. Are we clear on that?

ok, good. Now, the only difference in IPL is the way that business is structured and as I am going to argue below, it is better for Indian economy. With the system being followed currently by international cricket, it is the board or entity which organises an event (be it a tournament or a series) that owns all the rights for that event. That means, when Indian team plays a series in Australia, as they have been doing for past two months, it is Cricket Australia which owns the rights for that series and hence they make all the money from that series, including from Indian market. That's right - when we sit in front of our TVs to support our favourite Men in Blue, we are in effect contributing to the coffers of Cricket Australia. And this is true when we watch World Cups too. We are making ICC richer. Or when we tour Pakistan, we fill the coffers of PCB. And so on.

Now one could ask, in that case, when those teams come and play in India, doesn't BCCI make money from those other markets too? Well, they could, but the problem is there is no other country that has a market remotely comparable with India's. Which means, whatever little money BCCI makes from overseas markets is peanuts compared to what other boards make from Indian market. Net effect is, millions of dollars go out of Indian economy to the coffers of various cricket boards around the world every year.

With IPL, that is going to change. Since IPL is completely owned by BCCI, whatever money is generated by those matches will stay within Indian economy. Sure, a few foreign players get paid a few hundred thousand dollars each, but that is nothing compared to how much the boards are making from Indian market at present.

So here's my question to Dasgupta's and Thackeray's who are criticising IPL. Would you prefer that Indian audience continues to watch cricket matches imported from Australia, England, Pakistan, etc. or would you prefer that we watch cricket matches produced in India by an 100% Indian entity, which pays its taxes to Indian government? I can't see how any Communist or a Nationalist can support imported matches over 100% Indian ones.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

India on Tour - memories

Since Test cricket is on its last legs, with cricket going the club way, I thought of going through the various away test series I have followed over the years. For old times' sake.

Tours of England:

1979 - Best remembered for Bharat Reddy being picked over Kirmani and other selection goof-ups.

1982 - Entire theme of the tour for me was Vishy. Glued to the transistor and hoping against hope that he finds his touch. I think he scored a couple of fifties. Don't remember much else.

1986 - Probably one of the best cricketing memories of my life. Having just finished gruelling PU exams and engineering entrance test with flying colours, was enjoying a long break (May to October). So nothing to do all day. Get up very late, have a lazy bath and breakfast, do crossword, read some book or magazine and wait for clock to turn 3:30pm, tune into BBC TMS, enjoy their wonderful coverage. Off to play cricket with friends at 5pm and after a three hour cricket and katte session, come back to watch the highlights of previous day's action on DD and to catch the final session on radio. Abiding memories - Chetan Sharma inducing a collapse with two quick wickets, Maninder's mesmerising spell, Kapil scoring the winning runs early on day 5 of second test sealing the series victory.

1990 - Again mostly on TMS with highlights on DD. Pathetic bowling from India but more than made up by Azhar's batting. Blofeld on Azhar - "Out comes the feather duster again". Tendulkar's hundred to save a test at Old Trafford. Remember listening to Kapil's four sixers and not getting too excited (he was by then on my hit list). Kumble's debut. TMS comms getting all excited to watch two leggies bowling in tandem.

1996 - First time watching a test series from England live. Srinath and Prasad's spells particularly in second test I think against Hussain and Stewart. Ganguly's debut hundred and Dravid missing it by 3 runs. Collapse against Ronnie Irani.

Tours of Australia:

1978 - Chandra's 6-52 & 6-52 at Melbourne. The heroic chase. Remember elders talking about this being a Packer-depleted side, but didn't understand all that then.

1981 - Melbourne win. Being informed by the neighbour as soon as we got up amidst huge cheering and shouting. The Gavaskar incident.

1985 - Rain, Border and Tail frustrating us, not once but twice. Remember Shastri and Yadav running through the aussie batting line-up early one morning. Gavaskar, Srikkanth and Mohinder all getting a hundred.

1991 - Plenty of memories. Mostly sad. Whitney and Hughes running through us. Age finally catching up with Vengsarkar. Manjrekar failing to live up to expectations. Azhar raising hopes in Adelaide, albeit briefly.

1999 - First time watching a test series from Australia live. Sachin shoulder before wicket. Sachin's Melbourne hundred. VVSL Sydney hundred. McGrath showing Dravid his 'aukat' :-) Srinath bowling a good first spell but not able to maintain it longer. Agarkar getting lots of dharma wickets.

Tours of West Indies:

1982 - Mohinder standing tall amidst ruin. Windies chasing 200 after tea. I don't remember listening to any commentary. Mostly newspaper reports.

1989 - We had commentary this time and it was a funny feeling with a Test match starting at 7pm. Insipid Indian bowling. Hirwani in particular disappointing. Shastri and Sidhu's decent batting. Azhar flaying at everything.

1997 - First time watching a tes series from West Indies live. Dravid standing like a rock. Azhar getting out to Hooper. Barbados collapse.