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.