September 8, 2012

What I'd do if I bought the Deccan Chargers

Cat collars, hair jobs and Eddie Hemmings are all in the offing

Exciting news for budding IPL fat cats. Deccan Bank Charges, the Hyderabad-based comedy troupe specialising in satirical defeats and cricket slapstick, is up for sale. This week, the following advert appeared in the Franchise and Tycoon Gazette:

Southern Indian cricket team. Slightly damaged. Consists of 34 professional cricketers, collection of dark blue shirts (some tear-staining) animal-based logo and pervading sense of failure. Reasonably priced, around $107 million. No credit card payments please.

That's a little steep, even for a ESPNcricinfo writer, but I've put my sealed bid in an envelope and posted it to the BCCI, so fingers crossed. I can't divulge the full details, but I can say that if I win the auction, Mr Srinivasan's cat Tiddles will be looking a lot smarter in her new collar and there'll be complimentary Ganguly-style hair renovations for all BCCI members.

I've also given some thought to what changes I'd like to make. For a start, there are far too many players knocking about the place, so I'd introduce a radical restructuring of the playing staff; that is, I'd keep the cheapest 11 players and let the rest go. Obviously that might mean the odd disappointing result in the short term, but with 11 defeats in 16 matches last season, spectators are quite used to that. And to bring a touch of overseas glamour, I'd say farewell to Kumar and try to persuade Eddie Hemmings out of retirement.

Why is the thing up for sale in the first place? Officially it's because DCHL have run into a little financial difficulty. The real reason, of course, is that they were concerned that continuing to be associated with the losers in the blue shirts was doing reputational damage to their newspaper business. The same explains the reluctance to pay the players. I saw quite a lot of the Deccan Duffers last year. As Geoffrey Boycott might say, I wouldn't pay 'em in buttons.

Still the BCCI does seem to be taking a rather more generous approach than it did with poor old Kochi, who disappeared into the black hole where sports teams go to die faster than you could say "financial irregularities". Maybe Mr Srinivasan has a soft spot for the hapless chaps from Hyderabad. Or perhaps he has concluded that to lose a second franchise might look like carelessness and so has been cutting Deccan some slack.

And there is one interesting piece of news to come out of this for those who are reluctant to give the franchise thing a go in England. Five per cent of the price of the sale of the Deccan Doughnuts will go to the BCCI. Five per cent of $107 million is, well, quite a lot. Don't you want a piece of that action, Giles? And besides the money, there's the fun to be had toying with the franchise owners. You could even get involved yourself with a controlling stake in the Somerset Tractors or the Bristol Smugglers. And as a bonus, you can still run the ECB at the same time. It's a megalomaniac's dream!

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England