Australia to tour India every year from 2007 to 2009
The Indian board has announced that Australia will tour India every year from 2007 to 2009, and that after the 2006 Champions Trophy it will not participate in further editions of the tournament. Lalit Modi, vice-president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, said that they were also in talks with the England board regarding touring schedules.
"As far as England are concerned, after this series we have one scheduled in 2009," Modi said. "We are in active negotiations with England and other countries to see who can come to us on a reciprocal basis." He added that India will play seven ODIs when Australia tour India in 2007, four Tests when they come in 2008, and seven or eight ODIs in 2009. India would tour Australia in 2007-08 for four Tests and seven or eight ODIs.
Replying to a query about whether India would avoid playing teams such as Bangladesh, Modi said, "Bangladesh made a request to us and we'll be touring them next year..." He was interrupted by IS Bindra, former BCCI president, who said: "They make more money by our going there. If they come to India, they will get only meal allowance. If we go there they make huge television revenue and title sponsorship."
On this day of announcements with far-reaching consequences, Modi revealed that India and Pakistan would play two one-dayers at Abu Dhabi in April for earthquake relief. When the calender is released shortly it is likely to be unlike what the ICC envisaged.
Significantly, Modi also said that the BCCI would produce its own telecasts, which includes choosing commentators. Invites would be sent to major production houses shortly. Channels carrying the feed would merely be carriers, and would have to carry the BCCI logo.
"The way we are planning to do this is, in regards to production, we will be going forward and putting out a tender for the BCCI to appoint its own production company to do all production on the behalf of the BCCI going forward," said Modi. "In other words, BCCI will be the producer of all series played in India on a regular basis. We will make sure we provide a world class feed. We have also decided that, for the first time in global history, we will produce a high-definition feed. It'll be the best quality feed that has ever been produced by any cricket board anywhere, and for that we will invite the world's best production companies.
"We will have all the latest gimmicks that Australia or England provide. We will not, in any which way, cut corners in our production. Usually what used to happen is because of a shortage of money or other issues, people used to cut back on value additions in terms of production. All the anchors will be BCCI anchors. They will be hired by the BCCI. We will also produce programs prior and post matches which will be bundled in with our production feed. The BCCI network logo will also be put on the feed. It will be produced in multiple languages. You will have Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, and as the market demands, we will have more."
The total value of the bids, Modi said, was expected to be at least $350 million. This is a conservative estimate, and if a single bidder pays more for all the tenders than do all the highest bidders for each seperate tender, it will take away the rights. Modi and Bindra, mostly silent beside him, said that it was about extracting the most value for the board.
"The global bid encompasses all rights, and all country rights," Modi said. "So if you have the appetite to bid for all rights globally, and for all media, you have an opportunity to put in a number. Then there is part B: if you are interested in bidding for television rights in the UK market, you can do that alone. A second person may only be interested in radio rights in Sri Lanka, so he can bid for that. If the aggregation of the bids for all the rights is higher than the global bid, the rights will be farmed out to individual players. Thereby, people in their particular domain can bid for rights interesting to them. They don't have to go begging and pleading to a third party for our rights."
He said that everything would be ready by March. "We are very quick in getting our tenders out and closing them. Like we've demonstrated in the past, we'll be fully open and transparent," he said, grinning.
Also in the pipline was a move to ensure that Indian series played abroad were broadcast prominently at home. "The rights outside India are not in the purview of the BCCI," Modi said. "The BCCI will propose at the next ICC meeting that the rights when we are touring should be widely broadcast on Indian platform. Those rights belong to those boards. There is nothing we can do but advise those boards."
Rebutting criticism that the BCCI had become a money-making machine, Bindra said that it was part of the professionalism of the new regime, and the rash of initiatives involved building the BCCI's brand. The air was also thick with talk of 'products', which the BCCI was looking to add to its product line. Among them was domestic cricket, of which 70 days would be broadcast live with commentary. "In our tender process we will also have 70 days of first-class cricket, so you will have the domestic trophies running live on television. That number will only increase year by year as we add more products to our product line. There will be live commentary, and live television."
Modi also revealed that India would play a one-day series at home before the Champions Trophy in October, which would help them with their one-day form. Also, before the World Cup, two teams (yet to be decided) would be invited to play in India for one-dayers as preparation.
Rahul Bhatia is staff writer of Cricinfo Magazine