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Opportunity, choice and the IPL

Talk about silly money all you like, but the bottomline is, the IPL will bring competition and the rules of the market into cricket - and that can't be bad

Amit Varma

March 13, 2008

Comments: 40 | Text size: A | A

The likes of Ishant Sharma and Andrew Symonds have been sold for the prices they have because the franchises think they can get a return on their investment © Getty Images

The silly season of cricket punditry is upon us, and I blame Lalit Modi. Had the man not unleashed the Indian Premier League, newspapers and websites would not be full of otherwise sensible commentators telling us that the world is coming to an end because there is so much money in the game and the centre of cricket is shifting to savage, uncultured Asia. They rail against the profit motive and splutter indignantly and eloquently against the huge amounts given to some of these players. Some, like Tim de Lisle in a column a few days ago on Cricinfo, complain that such "silly money" is "disgusting" in a country that "encompasses a great deal of poverty".

I disagree. Firstly, I think that the IPL is a huge step forward for cricket. Second, contrary to what de Lisle writes, it is good for India as well. Let's start with cricket.

The problem with cricket in most cricket-playing countries, certainly in India, is that the cricket market is what economists call a monopsony. A monopsony is a market in which there is only one buyer for a particular class of goods and services. Until now, a young Indian cricketer who wanted to play at the highest level could only sell his services to the BCCI. If it treated him badly and did not give him his due rewards, he had no other options open to him.

This was exacerbated by the lack of accountability in the BCCI. The men who run it get their posts by pandering to the state associations that vote for them, by handing those associations ODIs that bring them revenue, by distributing posts within the board, and so on. How the cricket team performs on the field has no bearing on the tenures of these men; those are determined by politics.

This has two implications. One, the incentives for picking the best team possible aren't too strong, as there is no penalty for poor performance. (In fact, regional politics within the selection committee has sometimes ensured that the best team hasn't been picked.) Two, a player who suffers because of this has no other options open to him.

While the BCCI will continue to run along the same lines, the IPL turns this on its head. There is competition between the franchises, who have spent tons of money to enter the IPL and need to make profits to justify their involvement. This acts as a powerful incentive for them to hire the best cricketers they can find, and to develop new talent. Teams that are selected based on politics or bias will play worse than the teams that don't, and their bottomline will suffer.

Equally, all the incentives are tailored towards finding and developing new talent. If the IPL is a success, don't be surprised if the franchises open their own academies and nurture youth teams - it is in their financial interest to do so. Precisely such feeder systems have developed in the Premier League in England, and all for the sake of the much-maligned profit motive.

Think of what this will mean for the players. A talented young cricketer frustrated by the BCCI will no longer have to suck up to officials and hope that they notice his talent in the handful of games he gets in local cricket. Instead, he will find eight potential buyers for his services. If he has either talent or potential, they will compete to employ him.

The BCCI has helped this process along with the mandate that each team employ at least four cricketers under 22. As a result, the players of the current Under-19 side have suddenly become much sought after. This will happen to every future Under-19 side. Young talent will be less likely, in future, to fall by the wayside and be ignored. Callow fast bowlers will be less likely to be injured for long periods of time, for their employers will hire the best trainers to look after their assets - cold as it sounds to call them that.

A common complaint about the IPL centres around the money paid to individual cricketers. Does Rohit Sharma really deserve more than Ricky Ponting? Are the men paying Ishant Sharma more than Dale Steyn and Glenn McGrath making a silly mistake?

Well, firstly, these investments are made not just on the basis of cricketing ability but also on factors like brand appeal and likely availability. Secondly, more importantly, if they are foolish decisions, then the most potent commentary on them will come not from cricket writers but from the balance sheet. Those who make foolish investments will suffer; those who are smart will prosper. Eventually, as this market matures, we will come closer to finding out the true value of players.

There is competition between the franchises, who have spent tons of money to enter the IPL and need to make profits to justify their involvement. This acts as a powerful incentive for them to hire the best cricketers they can find, and to develop new talent. Teams that are selected based on politics or bias will play worse than the teams that don't, and their bottomline will suffer

Some commentators take issue with so much money being spent on a sport in a poor country. "[M]ost of these millions will be leaving India," de Lisle wrote in his piece, "filling the coffers of Australian stars who are already very highly paid. Money shouldn't travel in a direction like that."

If that logic was correct, we might as well stop poor countries from importing anything. Every trade happens because it leaves both parties better off, and the IPL's foreign players are being paid so much because they bring that much value to the table. That value, the return on those investments, will happen within India. Andrew Symonds may be delighted that his services are being sold for $1.35m, but the franchise that bought him also thinks that it can get at least that much value out of him, through the various revenue streams open to them.

Every flourishing business creates employment opportunities and enriches the local economy. The IPL will offer more opportunity to cricketers coming up the ladder, and more choices to cricket viewers. The income disparities that pundits complain about are best tackled using exactly such a combination of opportunity and choice - and not by keeping everyone poor.

Also, we don't live in a zero-sum world - the profits from the IPL will not come at the expense of better causes. In fact, they will be invested back in the local economy, and in the long run, along with the profits of many other businesses started for the supposedly base purpose of making money, will end up creating jobs for people who might otherwise have to depend on charity. That is how economies grow and people progress.

Having said that, the IPL could fail, for not every good idea is rewarded with smart execution. Maybe the franchises got carried away and bid too high (game theorists call it "the winner's curse"). Maybe the games will not get high enough TRPs, as a cricket-loving public deluged with an overdose of cricket finds other ways to entertain itself. If it does flounder, it will be a pity, for its failure will be remembered and used to prevent other such experiments.

On the other hand, if the IPL succeeds, cricket historians may one day write about 2008 as the year that cricket discovered its future.

Amit Varma, a former managing editor of Cricinfo in India, writes on economics and politics. He won the 2007 Bastiat Prize for Journalism, and writes the popular blog India Uncut

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Posted by qualitie on (March 15, 2008, 16:35 GMT)

Amit- I like the free economics scenario you project here but something does not seem right, the analogy I draw is Musharaaf espousing his country is run as a free democarcy whereas he still hold the "key".

BCCI is running the show I am not sure if this is good for IPL 20-20 cricket, given their track record of making a mess of all good things....

Posted by mdoshi on (March 15, 2008, 14:50 GMT)

the first half of this article tries to convince that in cricketing terms this is good...but i dont see how given that the IPL severly punishes a player for playing for a rival organisation. BCCI is leveraging its might and armtwisting players into being fearful. Also how many players are foreign and how many are indian players who havetn already made it big. questions like these show that IPL is not ideal for cricketers who have not made it yet. Its good for some players who are getting money who otherwise wouldnt have so soon...but these is just a drop in the ocean of the potential that is there.

Posted by 1stSlip on (March 15, 2008, 10:35 GMT)

Well-written article.

However, as you have touched on at the end of the article...the key problem that faces the world game is TOO MUCH cricket and the real danger of adding more tournaments and different variations of the game is that the public (who are already saying there is too much cricket) will eventually become overdosed and sick of it.

Maybe the answer is to play less International cricket and focus more (like eg soccer and basketball) on developing excellent domestic leagues who recaptivate people's imaginations for supporting & following their local team. 20:20 may indeed have a role to play in this. If strong well-attended local domestic cricket can be revived then the present quantity of annual International ODI's and Tests should be reduced otherwise the cricketing public will only reach saturation point quicker.

Posted by vermacelli on (March 15, 2008, 1:50 GMT)

Amit, I think extolling the virtues of a free market while ignoring the attempts of the BCCI and other cricket boards to undermine the ICL is myopic. The IPL is a flawed initiative by a flawed bunch of people. What I would like to see from someone is an assessment of the legality of the BCCI's actions. And what I would like to see happen is a massive BCCI-monopoly busting lawsuit.

Posted by Mr_Kricket on (March 14, 2008, 17:43 GMT)

I am afraid that cricket will end up as American Pro Wrestling,the focus shifting from pure sport to pure entertainment.

Posted by chai.k on (March 14, 2008, 14:28 GMT)

economics holds good except for the fact that BCCI is not paying any amount to other cricket boards who are supplying their cricketers to IPL after spending years in nourishing them. Also the newly generated cash in cricket should be used through ICC channel for the betterment of the cricketing infrastructure since it is the efforts all round so far that cricket has reached this stage of popularity.

Posted by rohanbala on (March 14, 2008, 5:02 GMT)

I totally agree with Mr Chriswillott1 on the impact of IPL (backed by ICC) and the moves of certain Cricket Boards to ban players appearing for ICL. Some years back, when the Australians toured England on an Ashes tour, one County player (originally born in Australia) then playing in the English county championship, was drafted into the English team. Allan Border, the Australian captain then remarked this move as: "The Rat who joined the sinking Ship". The present scenario of players from various countries joining the IPL reminds me of the story of "The Pied Piper of Hamelin". Its anyone's guess to know who is the present day Pied Piper.

Posted by engima28 on (March 14, 2008, 3:11 GMT)

Well, the article does seem well thought of but the lack of mention of three letters "ICL" also seems intentional. But why? IPL and BCCI would definitely like to take all credit for everything they are "trying" to do for the cricketers both current as well as upcoming but they definitely didn't do that for years. So, why suddenly the change of heart? That's where I think the mention of ICL was definitely missed. It was ICL's announcement that sent the wake-up alarm for BCCI and it reacted with its announcement of IPL. Even now also the approach they have taken to curb and suppress ICL but banning players is so unjust and unfair but I still am surprised to see noted columnist are still hesitant (scared sic?) to call a spade a spade?

Posted by KrishfromCalifornia on (March 13, 2008, 23:38 GMT)

This is an excellent reply to that comment "silly money" being thrown around. Finally 20/20 provided the much needed Franchise opportunity to cricket whilst Basketball had NBA (in US), Baseball had MLB (in US again!), Americal Football had NFL (in US) and soccer had EPL (across Europe). The problem was that people could not stomach the reality that India took the lead in getting not one but two sets of such leagues (ICL and IPL) and it is not even a so called super power yet much to the disappointment of Tim de Lisle and similar blokes. It is great for the game and 20/20 is here to stay - much to the disappointment of me the purist test cricket lover! But beyond that disappointment is another reason to smile, this is choice for public, for crickets for pure cricketing powers. I wish it had come during my days of playing the game, at least it is here when my son is picking up the bat and ball!

Posted by DineshIyer on (March 13, 2008, 21:03 GMT)

I am very worried about the cricket overdose factor. The ICL ends on April 8th and the IPL begins a week later. Moreover, there has been so much hype been created about Symonds, Ponting, Lee etc that it will be a major let down for the public if these players dont show up and/or dont perform, the public will not really like it. Another aspect that concerns me is the commercialism. I hope they dont go overboard with cheer-leaders, insane number of inane advertisements and SMS contests that can win u a chance to hold Pontings bat for like 5 secs!! The Indian crowd knows their cricket. I just hope it doesnt get too much in-ur-face like how the Star Sports coverage of cricket nowadays is. Amit, I must applaud you for ur sense of optimism that these teams will develop farm systems. One thing I know after watching cricket for the past 15 yrs, anything that involves the BCCI means no development, no benefit of cricket. Just MONEY! Pure and simple!

Posted by EnufSense on (March 13, 2008, 20:08 GMT)

I agree with Amit varma for the fact that he has put politics and economy in such a lucid style which doesnt disturb criket overall. Though it is true in India that criket sells a lot, it is upto the "businesses" to actually carry out the acumen of the "modern" cricketers for the fact that gone were the days when boards recongnize the talents (in most cases they do) and leave out some of the best talents (as was the case with Badani whom i call the Bevan of India). I thoroughly hope that IPL clicks as the way Varma puts it and I ferverently hope new Rainas and Piyushs or Partivs will emerge out which eventually benefit not only the franchises but also the country coz nobody will deny playing for their country. At the end, I would have to say that IPL must, as a matter a fact, click and set a new tone for the emerging cricket and must, again as a matter a fact, revolutionize the way test cricket is cricket, coz in the end, TEST CRICKET ROCKS!!!

Posted by Vishi on (March 13, 2008, 19:59 GMT)

Great article. In earlier days the only options the state players had if they were dropped is to move to other states. But now theres a lot more options for Indian players. You can imagine what will happen to the district level players.

But with power and money comes responsibility. If mishandled will lead to corruption at the low levels. Rich dads paying a lot to the local selectors to get their sons into under-15/16/19. I have seen this happen in my playing days. But now with more money at stake, its going to get even worse....Will be interesting to see how this shapes up.

Posted by IndianMigrant on (March 13, 2008, 18:31 GMT)

It's just foolish when people say IPL and BCCI are stifling ICL. BCCI is just enforcing their competitive advantage and exercising their basic rights. Strategic employees and assets of a company A are always protected from benefiting company B. This is why Companies have bankruptcy protection for assets and non compete agreement for employees. It may be unlawful for foreign cricket boards to ban players from playing for their country and their domestic cricket when played for ICL. But what IPL and BCCI is doing is well within the law and right on moral and ethical grounds too. People are who crying foul about BCCI's practices are plain stupid and don't have any idea how business operates in the real world. Understand every sport in this world is a business today and cricket is not exception

Posted by Sri_chicago on (March 13, 2008, 17:29 GMT)

Very interesting to read your comments Amit. As always, I enjoyed reading your piece - hadnt seen any for a while! On the issue itself, I find myself reading so many viewpoints and as you rightly said, money seems to be the focus of all or atleast most of them. I do agree with the economics of what you have brought across, but must admit I'm not enamoured by the idea of cricket being played for money. It has always been a team sport and played with pride to keep ones nation's flag flying high. Now all that will change and things can never be the same. I wonder how that will impact international cricket. Will the pride of spilling one's guts on the field, playing to win for one's country, at the highest level, namely Test Match cricket, continue to remain undiminished? Or will the power of money and it's addiction, render a large lot of players that much more ineffective and even indifferent when they turn out for their countries and there is so much less at stake? I wonder.

Posted by smoulderer on (March 13, 2008, 17:21 GMT)

Good piece Amit, But I wonder why you didn't talk about ICL at all. I believe ICL should be given a fair chance at running its business. I don't believe BCCI's position would stand in a court of law -it is clearly being anti-competitive. Cricket's long term goals should be to separate the twenty20 brand from test cricket. ODIs may be doomed- not sure about test cricket though. Going forward on what Amit said about the free market, IPL, etc, so what if test cricket becomes less popular? That may be what jantha janardhan (the all powerful public) wants. If Twenty20 allows for better entertainment in a more convenient time-duration, then it is what fits the needs of the market better. ODIs and Test cricket could go the way of the woolly mammoth- no point in flogging a dead mammoth.Personally I'm a great fan of test cricket but if it dies out, it dies out. Nothing personal about it. SR

Posted by observerathell on (March 13, 2008, 16:49 GMT)

Amit, the real competition at present is between the various franchise, who seem to have made the bids for all the players based on recent brand value, a lot of which is due to the short term performance and the controversies that they were involved in. However the lack of official status to ICL by the ICC has really killed the potential of the likely emergence of a fre market. I dont see the ICL surviving for long as the emerging players of other countries will be very reluctant to join with the fear of derecognition by their national boards. But, despite all that i wish that IPL suceeds in creating passion for T20 as it is with football in the european countries.

Posted by militarymedium on (March 13, 2008, 16:22 GMT)

Excellent article Amit. At last - some solid economic analysis of the IPL and its likely impact on the game. So many commentators, so many top-notch writers, so much wailing on the basis of such little knowledge. You're spot on - the competition posed by the IPL will ultimately reduce not increase board profits, not least because those with the rarest skills - the best players - will capture an ever increasing share of revenues (football leads the way here). Exports (TV rights etc.) will pay for imports (good players) and imports, as every economist knows, are a good thing (they're what we want). The quality of cricket will rise and more consumer demand will be satisfied and that will be good for the game overall. And no, it won't be the death of test cricket: to use another bit if jargon, the various forms of the game are more complements than substitutes.

Posted by shankarmazumdar on (March 13, 2008, 15:37 GMT)

Firstly, welcome back Amit. Great to see you on the cricinfo site again. Entirely agree with all you have said. I've one big concern though: will the public support it? I sincerely hope it does, but I'm not sure. If this takes off it will represent a positive turning point for the game globally but the Indian public is the big unknown variable in the equation. Second point: the existence of the ICL in a recognized form will provide competition and multiply the economic benefits you list. Its treatment as 'unauthorized' and Boards penalizing players for joining the ICL amounts to anti-competitive action, a crime in many countries. Do you think ICL has a case it can go to court with?

Posted by cricketmad on (March 13, 2008, 15:09 GMT)

Indian writers are singing the praises of the IPL using words such as "market forces" Non-indian writers are so upset thet they are close to writing the obituary for Cricket. Both views are a bit far fetched and the bias in either view is obvious. Amit, when you apply market economics you need to remember that there is always a loser. Who is going to lose out this time?? Is it the teams that do badly or the paying public?

The analogy with the premier league football in England is pretty sketchy too. In England you are born into a football allegiance based on what your dad supports. You dont select your teams. The glory hunters will only come in after the team is successful. It took many decades before the premier league concept was introduced in English football. The strength of English football doesn't lie in the Arsenal v Man U games but it lies in the crowd attendance for the game between Grimsby and Darlington on a freezing cold saturday afternoon in december.

Posted by promal on (March 13, 2008, 14:49 GMT)

I'm not an economist, but it is the silly idea that "money helps people progress" that has put the Earth in such jeopardy today. But economics and environemnt aside, when it comes to cricket, IPL is inherently a terrible idea because it's nurturing Twenty20 cricket, which is the antithesis of the word "talent" that has been used so often in this article. We don't care how much money people make and what League they play for, we just want to see good Test Cricket and may be some One-dayers. How much ever money Twenty20 may bring in, the brand of cricket played can never improve the cricketing quality of a player. IPL may not be a monopsony, but it's surely a monopoly when it bans its mother, the ICL! But I'd only be happy in this "future direction" if these Leagues decide to play proper 5-day cricket.

Posted by jamrith on (March 13, 2008, 14:35 GMT)

Magarmuch, please refrain from making personal attacks on "people of certain demographics" whatever that means. We are all entitled to our opinions, and agree to disagree, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Let us wait till 2010 and see who is correct.

Posted by RSKNA on (March 13, 2008, 14:29 GMT)

I am with Chriswillot1 on this. Amit is trying vainly to justify that IPL is free-market. Get ICL on board and make it even-stevens, then it is a free-market. BCCI and ICC dictating terms to suit their own interests is certainly not free-market. I don't expect BCCI's operational ethic to change with IPL. More money for the bureaucrats, more politics, more posturing and circus. On a different note, I am a bit curious to see how the players will be picked by the franchises later. They will have to balance performance (of a no-name local talent) and "brand-appeal" (of a well-endorsed star).

Posted by kkp394 on (March 13, 2008, 13:59 GMT)

i would second amit , as the prices in IPL have been influenced not only by the cricketing skills but also by the brand value of the players. In a way IPL does help the economy grow. Free market is the best way to improve any country's economy. I donot agree with the statement that IPL is the antithesis of free market. In any trade it is the strongest competitor that wins. If ICL can still find good players and can present a quality game i have no doubts that there are enough people in the country to watch those matches. It finally comes down to quality of cricket. Good article amit.

Posted by IndianMigrant on (March 13, 2008, 13:16 GMT)

It's fantastic that BCCI has started IPL and it is great for cricket and our economy. There is going to be a vibrant economy albeit very small around this league and franchise which will benefit a small segment of indian populace.This is going to help keep money generated out of indian cricket within india rather than sharing it with other jealous boards. also Anytime when people makes a fortune for himself legally it's not bad. As for IPl banning players from playing in ICL, it is natural for o any competing entities to do this.You cannot be a Marketing strategist for coke and pepsi at the same time.People who are crying wolf over this have no idea of how business operates in the real world. Average fans like T20 and if it is be a great success in southafrica i am pretty sure it will be successful in india. People who gripe over 20/20 taking the place of Test Matches are mistaken. 20/20 it going to make the ODI's extinct, not the test matches and it is not a bad thing.

Posted by preempalaver on (March 13, 2008, 12:31 GMT)

Comments by people like Tim de Lisle are besides the point .Yes there is poverty and yet side by side ar rising aspirations.Once upon a time every Indian cricketer was a University graduate , came from solid middle class families or had rich patrons .Times have changed and cricket has become a route for not only gaining wealth ,but improving social status .It is this aspiration which the IPL is addressing - it is opening a new channel for many youngsters to get ahead in life .The IPL will effect not only sricket bur all other sports in India . In every country sports and entertainment have been stron factors in upward mobility , why should it be different in India. As far as the economics are concerned surely Mr.Amabani , Mr.Mallya and the other franchise holders know more about it than the carping and critical cricket writers

Posted by WhoNWhy on (March 13, 2008, 11:44 GMT)

There are a lot of domestic players who quit due to financial reasons. This will motivate them to perform optimally in the domestic matches. If they perform the franchisees will be interested in them. That will take care of the financial issues which should keep the player interested rather then having no option but to quit. This is a blessing for a lot of domestic cricketers who otherwise would have gone unnoticed. It would not be biased in any way in selection issues as well as the all franchisees would benefit most if they win.

Posted by WhoNWhy on (March 13, 2008, 11:37 GMT)

Its competition. Well every business does that. When people invest they wish to gain as much as possible. And the way to do it is by killing competition. There is nothing wrong in trying to do that after all " All is fair ... ". But will BCCI be able to stop ICL. I dont think so. First of all there are lots of past and present cricketers who would find place only in ICL. IPL can have only 4 overseas players in the playing eleven. Just 8 teams. Which means just 32 overseas players in 8 teams. Most teams will have some extras but not too many. Where do the rest go including ex players. ICL has a lot of ex players. Then the sponsors cannot be purchased bu BCCI so they will still sponsor ICL. ICL will go on. And yes, both of them would be most awaited events in a few years. So what if cricketers make some more money as long as they entertain us. I want to see fights like Sachin against Kumble, Ishant and Praveen. Ponting and Symonds against Warne and Lee etc ... Where else can we see them?

Posted by okostoglotov on (March 13, 2008, 10:55 GMT)

This article is bizarre. The IPL is the antithesis of a free market, because the BCCI is simultaneously preventing its competitor, the ICL, from competing on a level playing field by threatening its players with bans from international cricket, county cricket etc. Sadly the BCCI's financial might means that other boards have to go along with this. There is no logical, cricketing reason why the IPL and ICL are different. In fact, the only difference is that the BCCI makes money out of one and not the other. Disgraceful.

Posted by howizzat on (March 13, 2008, 10:10 GMT)

I fully agree with Amitji, that IPL will bring compitition among the players. There is no doubt that IPL pours in money but at the same time money will chase only success. Perform or Perish will become the new mantra. Playing for the nation, anybody will be proud of and hence the national teams wont suffer. Even the franchises will keep enough bench strength and be ready to release players as and when needed. Scheduling will also be well taken care of. Afterall the IPL will be unearthing the players from domestic and international tournaments only and hence the two should be acting complimentary. And wheather its county cricket or football leagues, Nation comes first. There is no precedent anywhere in the world that call of the nation is rejected,unless players revolt under dire circumstances.

Posted by Hkrishnan on (March 13, 2008, 9:13 GMT)

Thanks to more money, as compared to 5 years back, cricket is today a serious career option to consider for a talented person. It is no longer a"risk" or a "Waste" of time for a youngster. This means he will be more committed, practice his skills more and become a better cricker. This can only be good for the game in the country.

I read a few years back, Shikhar Dhawan saying that he will quit circket if he is not in the Indian Team by the time he is 22. I doubt if he will ever make it, but the young man might not quit. However, I hope the BCCI and the franchisees spend some time and money on helping these young cricketers develop competencies to carry on with life after cricket. Maybe expose them to administration of the game, maybe coaching ( skills and mental).

Posted by riverlime on (March 13, 2008, 8:41 GMT)

Amit, your article should have substituted ICL for IPL ,in that the entire idea of league T20 cricket in India was invented by ICL. The IPL is nothing but a BCCI response to Zee tv's innovation. Never forget that BCCI was dead set against the idea from the beginning and only jumped on the bandwagon after the popular success of the Stanford 20/20 in the WI.I must say, though, that nowhere in your article did you mention the ICL, which was instrumental in paying players large sums of cash.

Furthermore, the BCCI may have the legitimate right to ban Indian players from playing in an unsanctioned league, but what right do they have to demand that the other ICC territories ban their players from playing where they want? The NZ,Pak and Eng boards have already shown themselves to be cowards, and WI without Stanford's 20/20 money would soon crumble.

Posted by Magarmuch on (March 13, 2008, 8:38 GMT)

jamrith, you have no idea how a player is valued. In order to get so much money, a player needs to prove his worth. The only way a player can prove his worth is when they perform internationally, which can only be done by playing test and ODIs.

Amit, well written article. I have read enough of this bull about why IPL is bad from certain people of certain demographics that are just plain jealous.

Posted by teju666 on (March 13, 2008, 8:02 GMT)

The basic assumption of IPL creating options for a cricketeer is flawed. It assumes that a sportsperson will try for the highest honour of being able to play for his country. It assumes that when he fails for reasons as mentioned in the article, IPL is the way out. For some IPL is the only way - quick & easy money at an early age without the rigours of months of cricket. With such a mouth watering offer, I am sure many will try to get into the IPL first than stake their claim to a politicised selection policy.

comparisions with EPL are dangerous. Beckham can earn millions by kicking a ball in a televised training session. He cost Man Utd a fortune but was retained for many years for revenue reasons outside of the field than on it. If this is what IPL will want to do, then rest assured you can create models not batsmen & bowlers.

As for the economy benefitting - I dont see Ambanis and Khans sharing their wealt. They have put in a lot here and they expect the rich dividends.

Posted by IPLFan on (March 13, 2008, 7:34 GMT)

Agree completely. Players will have more employment options, there are more teams and hence more kids will look forward to be household names through cricket. I really, really hope this succeeds.

btw, as for de Lisle's point that so much money should not be going out of a country like India - much more than that is already going out of India to the coffers of various boards and ICC. If we can cut down on that and some of that money is directed to IPL, it can only be a good thing for the economy.

Posted by shakester on (March 13, 2008, 6:11 GMT)

I might be mistaken, but the players still need to go through the BCCI. The franchises can't just up and pick any player they deem talented, these players need in some way to be ratified/approved/accepted by the BCCI. Parochialism might be taken care of to a large extent, but the power lies entirely with the BCCI. As of now.

Also, I don't think any anlysis of the IPL- especially one that focuses on its 'free market' roots- is complete without referring to the ICL. The bans on the players approching it are not exactly in keeping with a free market economy for the players. To relate this to the first pont, the Mumbai Indians cannot hire Rohan Gavaskar howmuchever they may wish to because he is now part of the 'rebel' league.

Posted by surya_adi on (March 13, 2008, 5:21 GMT)

Hi Amit: Beautiful piece. I never was against IPL but more against the fact that IPL and BCCI are trying to control cricket in India (and worldwide). That just isn't right is it? Not giving ICL any face, holding players to ransom by getting the boards to ban them if they join ICL. Maybe they are controlling media and gagging commentators too, preventing them from covering or talking about ICL in any way...what do you have to say to this not so democratic development? Since you write on economics and politics, would really like to hear your views.

PS: I am really enjoyin gthe ICL matches. Hats off to Kapil Dev.

Posted by hsudhindra on (March 13, 2008, 3:57 GMT)

Amit, you are 100% right. It takes a cold macroeconomist view to see the benefits of IPL. People are even complaining of the 'vulgar' money paid to Indian cricketers. I think these protests are the last remnants of the previous generation's socialist views. For the sake of the game and the economy, I hope IPL works. In the same breath I say, hope ICL too is a big success.

Cheers Sudhi

Posted by cricindia4life on (March 13, 2008, 3:33 GMT)

This is a brilliant article. Keep in mind that the BCCI started this for profit..and that will be the general objective of anybody, barring a few saints, in this world. They are doing no charity work. However, the indirect benefits a country can get through this are immense. As rightly pointed out by this author, Andrew Symonds may take away $1.35m and spend all of it in Australia...but think about how many Hyderabad fans will come in to watch him clobber sixes for their team. Cricket has always been a national game...nationalism never allowed fans to get into the domestic arena. IPL can change that..and for cricket's own good. As I see it, everyone stands to gain something. Just because some poor guy cannot afford two meals a day doesn't mean another guy (who might bring joy to millions) can't buy a Mercedes overnight.

Posted by Sanjeev on (March 13, 2008, 3:27 GMT)

Well said, Amit. I expected you to write what you did but the last paragraph was what most elated me as that was exactly what I was thinking -- that the failure of IPL either due to overdose of cricket keeping the crowds away and the TV ratings low or due to bad execution and bad decisions on the part of the owners of the teams should not be held as an explanation for why IPL failed.

In any case, it is too early to know whether IPL will succeed or not just as it was too early last year to debate over ICL's success or failure. Today, it has become clearer that ICL will have a tough time to survive or at least to be competitive against IPL in the long run. That does NOT mean that the ICL was a bad idea. In fact, the ICL may well have been the cause we have the IPL. It may well prevent a future Subhash Chandra-like businessman from starting a new league/format for business reasons... but Chandra should be praised for taking the risk and stepping out to try something new.

Posted by jamrith on (March 13, 2008, 3:24 GMT)

I disagree completely; this is an unholy alliance between big business, Bollywood and the BCCI, all the big B's, which will lead to the downfall of the traditional game. Why should aspiring Tendulkars and Kumbles put in the hard yards and dedication required for Test cricket, the acid test of quality, when they can pick up crores in T-20 tamashas. The public may be taken in for an year or two with all the hoop-la and dancing girls but they will soon tire of it--yes,Mr. Varma, even Indians have a threshold of boredom for cricket. Let's face it, it will be the Lalit Modis of this world and their journalistic backers who will be laughing all the way to the bank. Big business will, as always, pass on the losses to the consumer and move on to new pastures.

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