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Editor, ESPNcricinfo

Cash for commitment

If Sri Lanka manage to secure a bailout package from India, it could lead to a new world order

Sambit Bal

October 13, 2008

Comments: 43 | Text size: A | A



Not all smiles anymore: Sri Lanka's top players were upset at Arjuna Ranatunga pushing for the England tour over the IPL © AFP
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It is not set in stone yet, but the deal that the Sri Lankan sports ministry is trying to strike with the BCCI, for a bailout package of US$70 million in return for absolute and unconditional support of all of the BCCI's Twenty20 forays, could end up reshaping the contours of international cricket.

It can be perceived in many different ways: a national board pledging support to domestic tournaments in another country ahead of its international commitments; a rich board underwriting the future of another on its own terms; a pragmatic subjugation by Sri Lanka Cricket to its own situation; or, bluntly, a buyout of Sri Lankan cricket by its powerful, and increasingly hegemonistic, neighbour.

Naturally, fears about India's strengthening grip on international cricket will be accentuated. If the deal does go through, Sri Lanka's tour of England next summer, hastily arranged to fill the gap created by Zimbabwe's withdrawal, will almost certainly be a casualty (it is looking doubtful even without the deal). This will serve to increase England's irritation over India's increasing clout.

It will also point to the growing marginalisation of Arjuna Ranatunga, the chairman of SLC's interim committee, who not only signed the agreement for the tour with the ECB but has been a strong votary of the primacy of Test cricket. Ranatunga, an iconic figure who is also an iconoclast, has always been a man with the courage to stand up for his beliefs, and he recently won the admiration of many in the world by allowing Sri Lanka's ICL players, banned until then, to participate in domestic cricket. There is doubt now if that decision will still hold.

It must be said that the top Sri Lankan players had been deeply unhappy with Ranatunga's decision in favour of the England tour, which was outside Sri Lanka's commitment to the Future Tours Programme, under which, Sri Lanka are next due to tour England in 2011. I interviewed Mahela Jayawardene during India's tour of Sri Lanka in September and these were his words: "It is a question of whether the right decision was made under the right circumstances, and whether there are no other hidden agendas. We [the players] want to make sure the decision is being made purely on the right facts."

It is apparent that the players' lobby has prevailed.

Not that England's players will be unhappy. The opposite, probably. The cancellation of Sri Lanka's tour opens up the opportunity for them to earn plenty of IPL cash. Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, in particular, will find many takers. Yes, the Tests against Sri Lanka would have been good preparation for the Ashes, the summer's main event, but the contemporary reality is that players, like everyone else, want to make the most of what is available.

What next? One way of viewing the bailout package is as a welcome distribution of IPL fortunes among the countries that contribute players to the tournament. The fact that the BCCI has so far kept to itself all the money it earned from the sale of franchises and television rights for the IPL has been a sore point. Now that the Champions League has fetched a billion dollars, a staggering $7.5 million approximately per match, it is only proper that the booty is shared.

Of course, the BCCI holds the strings and will continue to do so. Its hold over the Asian countries has never been in doubt, and the relationship will now grow more one-sided still. The BCCI posted earnings of Rs 10 billion (roughly $ 200 million at the current exchange rate), an increase of 75% over the previous year. By virtue of cricket's monopoly over the Indian television market, the growth of the Indian board's finances is expected to beat global recessionary trends.

The Sri Lanka instance is unlikely to be an isolated case. On the contrary, it might be the trend soon. Pakistan, a country abandoned by the Western cricket nations, will become further dependent on India's largesse and will no doubt be delighted to be offered terms similar to what Sri Lanka has. Guaranteeing the presence of their players in the IPL would seem hardly a price to pay. Bangladesh, who have been so far been content to host India every now and then, would settle for far less.

 
 
One way of viewing the bailout package is as a welcome distribution of IPL fortunes among the countries that contribute players to the tournament. The fact that the BCCI has so far kept to itself all the money it earned from the sale of franchises and television rights for the IPL has been a sore point
 

Australia and South Africa are already willing allies in the BCCI's quest to spread the Twenty20 mantra, and though the details are still fuzzy, the Twenty20 tri-series is an inevitability, and it will further consolidate this alliance. West Indies and New Zealand hardly matter in the power equations and England, which has been attempting to set itself as a counterforce even if it means embracing Allen Stanford, another champion of Twenty20, is finding itself gradually isolated. It neither has the market nor the players.

The ICC is increasingly an irrelevant body. Haroon Lorgat, the CEO, may shout himself hoarse about the sanctity of bilateral cricket, and David Morgan may express his disapproval of Sri Lanka's dithering over honouring its commitment to England, but the truth is that, just as with the United Nations and the USA, the ICC's writ does not run over the BCCI.

The most logical likely outcome of this process would be that when the ICC sits down to draw up the next Future Tours Programme, it will be tailored around the IPL, the Champions League and whatever other Twenty20 extravaganzas the BCCI and its cronies might conjure up.

Twenty20 is junk food to Test cricket's gourmet meal, but crowds love the entertainment and the players love the money, and the truth is they are the ones who really matter. The fight to preserve Test cricket is a worthy one, and it must not be abandoned. Indeed, given the right contests, the format can more than hold its own, even commercially.

But the uncomfortable reality is that it is now down to the BCCI, which has shown plenty of imagination and drive in commercialising the game, but not statesmanship and a wider concern for cricket's global well-being, to set the agenda.

Sambit Bal is the editor of Cricinfo

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Posted by Irishfan on (October 14, 2008, 13:50 GMT)

Also, we have seen from the EPL, in some countries where the league or even sport in general is not terribly popular, that trend has been turned around when one player from that star makes it into the league as a successful player. Soccer in the US has regained lost popularity now because many American players are playing for big-name English club teams, and seeing more demand in both playing and watching the game. What is better for cricket in Ireland, or any other Associate country? The national team plays a handful of internationals a year, and gets routinely thrashed. They make a few sentences in the back page news, and people forget about them. Or, an Associate star is bought by an IPL team, and provides the innings, spell, or bit of fielding that wins the Grand Final for his team. The next day, the kids get to see that player, receiving a check for a few million dollars, raising a gold trophy in front of thousands of screaming fans, and maybe want to be like him?

Posted by TwitterJitter on (October 14, 2008, 10:54 GMT)

It appears David Hopps needs some heart burn medication. Please read his article using the link below. "http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2008/oct/14/cricket-indianpremierleague". I had a chuckle reading it. If you were to beleive British press, BCCI is the Taliban, Lalit Modi is Mullah Omar, and increasingly ECB is the only poor soul fighting a lonely battle against the evil India. There is so much jealousy of the author pouring through in that article. This is a good reading for those of you that beleive that British press is objective. I want to separate British people from its press because they are generally very fair-minded people and I have a lot of friends. However, their press is an entirely different matter.

Posted by vswami on (October 14, 2008, 9:45 GMT)

I dont understand where this myth that Indians only watch T20 comes from. The stadium was atleast 70 % full for all the 5 days in the Bangalore test where not two sixers were hit and the run rate never crossed 3 per over. Its just that in India, all forms of cricket sell well, some sell more than the others. I look at Test, ODI and T20 as being analogous to Classical, Rapid and Blitz formats in chess. Any classical chess pundit would decry Blitz as a fast food format, but they seem to be able to live with it. All players play all the formats and they have found a nice balance. I dont understand why followers of cricket are so stuck up in ancient ideologies. Maybe its got to do with who is promoting the formats !

Posted by drinks.break on (October 14, 2008, 6:34 GMT)

IPLFan: While TV coverage and "star players" can influence a minority of kids to take up a sport, they're actually among the least important factors which determine a sport's popularity. I'm an Australian, and I can tell you that over the last 30 years one of the most popular sports for kids has been soccer, yet until about 5 years ago, there has been no televised pro soccer (except late at night after the kids are in bed), the national league (club based franchises!) has been a disgrace, and any international representatives we may have had have not been household names. Why do kids play soccer? Because their friends do, not because of the state of the game at the professional level. (For an opposite example, Australian tennis has stars and TV coverage, but no one much plays.) So if a sport wants to expand, then they need to infiltrate the local culture at the level of schools and local sporting clubs, rather than the big razzle-dazzle multi-million dollar tournaments.

Posted by IPLFan on (October 14, 2008, 5:44 GMT)

drinks.break: Watching on tv and commercial success does have an effect on kids taking up the game. Also, a club league like IPL is much better suited to spread the game globally than the nation-vs-nation system. The latter expects new entrants to have a decent team to start with, whereas a club league allows countries to bootstrap the popularity of the game. Produce one decent player, he will become a star playing in some league and that in turn increases the popularity of the game and hence chances of producing more decent players.

Posted by IPLFan on (October 14, 2008, 5:43 GMT)

bayman: I understand that that statement can be shocking, especially to those who haven't thought along those lines and are used to thinking of cricket only along national lines. But ultimately, cricket is also a product and it is better if the entity selling that product were run like a corporation with someone held accountable for its success globally, rather than the present vote-based set-up of ICC. And bcci is in the best position to take that kind of global ownership for cricket.

Posted by drinks.break on (October 14, 2008, 1:20 GMT)

(... contd) Cricket is commercially successful in England, India and Australia, because it's popular. If you want to spread cricket's commercial success beyond these countries, you do it, not by TV and sponsorship, but by grass roots development. Americans aren't going to watch a game they don't understand, and they're not going to understand a game they don't play. The IPL will never globalise cricket. It's a parasite, which is only successful where cricket is ALREADY popular. Cricket needs expats in non-cricketing countries to organise games and invite their friends to join in. That's why BCCI's negligence in terms of grass roots development is evidence of its lack of "statesmanship and wider concern for cricket's global well-being." While a few boards and a few hundred players make bucket-loads of money, the global development and spread of the game grinds to a halt.

Posted by drinks.break on (October 14, 2008, 1:19 GMT)

There are two separate issues here that a number of people seem to be confusing: the popularity of cricket as a spectacle, and the popularity of cricket as a sport. The fact is, there are many people who watch cricket, but don't play, and many others who might watch, but whose primary interest is in playing. IPL, billion dollar sponsorship deals, million dollar player payments, etc, only affect the first group - the non-players. If there was no IPL or ICC and the BCCI, ECB, CA, etc were all broke, kids (and adults!) would still be playing cricket because it's a fun game. The vast majority of kids who start playing cricket don't do so because they plan to play professionally, but because it's part of their sporting culture/heritage and they enjoy it. Those who argue that soccer is the dominant global game because it's commercially successful have put the cart before the horse. Soccer is commercially successful because it's the globally dominant game. (contd ...)

Posted by Bayman on (October 13, 2008, 23:47 GMT)

IPLfan, your comment regarding a wish that the BCCI should have sought complete control of Sri Lankan cricket is extraordinary. I cannot remember reading a less intelligent comment. You also query the writer's comment in relation to the BCCI's sense of commercialism and total lack of statesmanship in regards the wellbeing of the game. He's clearly correct and you're clearly from the land of Id. When 'club cricket' takes over the world to the exclusion of International Test cricket that will be the day when everyone loses interest in the game. For your sake I hope India wins the next T20 World Cup because their last success is the only thing they've won in a quarter of a century and I'm sure is what is driving this pathetic Indian push for more 20/20. Had to chuckle when the first IPL title went to a team led by a retired Aussie. Some things never change!

Posted by poetryinmotion on (October 13, 2008, 19:51 GMT)

Longbridge - The question on the definition of "statesmanship" and "greater good of the game" still remains unanswered by yourself or any other poster. And I might add that history is not exactly in the favour of the English on these terms. I urge you to look back at the early years of cricket and the attitude of the MCC, the then governing body of English cricket.

And to my fellow Indian posters, one doesn't always have to wear nationalistic pride on your sleeve, everyone has a right and opportunity to express oneself. Statements like "Cricinfo" is against India and so on is childish and not an argument. If you were referring to the BBC, that is an entirely different matter....LOL. At the end of the day, it is only a game. Krish

Posted by TheEnticer on (October 13, 2008, 19:49 GMT)

What a ridiculous article .. one expected from the likes of Gideon... Sambit am I to understand that SLC should *not* be helped by India? Who is going to help them ? Australia? They are busy minting money in IPL. ECB? They are cozying up to Stanford... WICB? Who will rescue WICB themselves. It is ironic, the same people that complained about the security situation in Pakistan and didnt think it was necessary to honor their word are now talking of honor... Funny how arguments change based on which side of the moral fence ECB and CA find themselves. I think it is about time for everyone that 'whines' about BCCI's power to take their bat and ball and just go home...

Posted by poetryinmotion on (October 13, 2008, 19:45 GMT)

Longbridge - Didn't exactly intend to make a political statement. However I found the term "Indian/Asian" a mite derisive and hence saw red. A large majority of the posters here are Indians and would probably like to be referred as such. And honestly I am not a big fan of Modi and his hooligans at the BCCI nor this IPL crap to defend it too seriously.

Posted by kingofspain on (October 13, 2008, 18:07 GMT)

An ever increasing growth in 20/20 is not sustainable. At some point in the future, there will be a 20/20 "bubble" which will burst, much like the housing "bubble" in the US.

Every sport needs a cadre of hardcore supporters. Real cricket fans don't like 20/20 or, at the very least, don't want it to be the primary form of the game. Casual fans will move onto something else eventually. Right now 20/20 is still a novelty. Domestic one-day games in England used to get massive crowds in the 60s/70s. Now, no one goes.

It's already happening in England, where crowds are down 20% from two years ago at 20/20. The ECB's reaction? Create an additional, redundant 20/20 competition.

Posted by TwitterJitter on (October 13, 2008, 18:05 GMT)

I don't know about others but I like the idea of having one premier league in each continent, Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe, and Americas (in future) competing against each other in a champions league. That will provide opportunities and financial rewards for thousands of cricketers at a time and it is also based around a vision where each club can aspire and work towards winning that champions league title at the beginning of their season.There will be lot of public and business interest in such a league. Lets face it. There are a lot of meaningless one days and tests played around these days without a vision of what these tests or one days mean in a larger contest. Premier leagues and champions league provide that vision, and a goal for these clubs each year that they can strive to achieve. ECB should embrace it because this can also create global brands out of each of these county clubs. In future, a Kent could be playing Mumbai or NSW in a different land and people will know them

Posted by ragzus on (October 13, 2008, 17:00 GMT)

Well, whatever BCCI is doing is for a tournament. Never has a tournament been so successful or watched as the IPL. So, whats the problem here? England & Australia have been controlling the game for so long but couldn't spread the game. BCCI has done more to the game thro' IPL which England & Australia couldn't do in over 100 years. I'm all for it. Let us have a separate window for IPL, carry on playing Test cricket as usual.

Posted by Philip_Gnana on (October 13, 2008, 16:55 GMT)

Well, It is a "tale" of the tail wagging the dog. We have allowed it to happen. Arjuna Ranatunga in his "infinite wisdom" thought that he did what was best for all lovers of Test cricket. Money rules. We all know that. Not consulting the players was a major blunder. It is now up to the ECB to salvage something out of this by even trying to push the dates back so that they can accommodate a full Sri Lankan team. The fact that Arjuna tried to encourage test cricket and help fill the gap in the England cricket calendar should be an effort that the ECB should recognise. Having him on the side of the ICC will benefit test cricket. No doubt about it.

As to more nations accepting offers of the BCCI, of course it will be in their interest to strike deals with the BCCI for financial reasons. T20 is here to stay. T20 rules we may not agree or like but that is the law of the jungle. No longer a game of gentlemen run by gentlment. A Sad fact of life.

Philip Gnana, NewMalden, Surrey

Posted by longridge on (October 13, 2008, 16:40 GMT)

poetryinmotion (krish) - what i meant by indian/asian comments was all comments by indians or people from other asian countries such as pakistan or any other for that matter. i was not trying to make a political statement, unlike yourself.

Posted by TwitterJitter on (October 13, 2008, 15:49 GMT)

I am not sure if people are objecting to T20 cricket or club cricket because people usually get it mixed up. They assume club cricket is only T20. It does not have to be that way. Club cricket is the way to go with the clubs playing a good mix of tests and some form of limited overs tournament. T20 is the craze now but it could change in future to some other limited over form. Club cricket provides exposure to more players from each country, pumps more money into the game, and can popularize it. International cricket allows at most 15 players the opportunity to play and that in turn reduces the number of people who choose a career in cricket because they know that if they are not in top 15-30 in a nation, they do not stand a chance. Club cricket changes all that and also gives them financial security. Players need to have exlcusive contracts to a club and play only for that club in all forms of the game in a year. This also brings more revenues to the boards through TV contracts.

Posted by fight_it_out on (October 13, 2008, 15:38 GMT)

I am a big fan of test match cricket. To me nothing comes than seeing a close India-Aus rivalry with Lee charging down to a Sachin, Dravid or Ganguly on a 5th day wicket in places like Perth,MCG,Eden Gardens. But I must admit that only 3 countries India,Aus and SA retain the interest of the masses in test match cricket with Pakistan chipping in rarely. Its soley for this reason that peole see emty stands in places like WI and NZ or even Eng. But I thoroughly enjoyed the IPL last year, T-20 is here to say, people love it and club level cricket is the only way to spread it far and wide and even hope to include it in the olympics. What is wrong in a game which enable people in numbers to come to the ground and enjo and players can earn some money. Its the sole reason why football is so popular all over the world and EPL is followed with keen passion even in India.Enjoy both forms of the game, test cricket will never be endangered bcoz of it, it will be only be meaningless bilateral ODIs.

Posted by Dogevpr2 on (October 13, 2008, 15:25 GMT)

Much as I love Tests there is too much Test cricket being played - we need to go back a couple of decades when there were less Tests. Bring on the T20 even if the "traditionalists" want to deride it as "entertainment".Check the NFL for seriousness and intensity whilst it provides entertainment.Instead of bemoaning India's ascendancy England should ensure cricket is a part of the 2012 Olympics,as Cricket2012Games.com is urging, instead of a faltering sport in the land of its birth.Like a business Cricket is losing market share in most "cricket countries" and globally.

Posted by Wild_Type on (October 13, 2008, 15:16 GMT)

This is annoyingly biased article. Yes, there are a lot of political intrigue and developements occuring in the world of cricket, but what gives people like the author and David Morgan the moral rights to decide what is right or wrong?

Why is such a hue and cry being made over something as inconsequential, insignificant and uninteresting as a 2(!!)-Test Eng-SL series? It is just a political move to keep Eng and SL players out of the IPL. The SL board has been broke for some time now - this deal would be a great help to it. Obviously the BCCI will have its own terms, and why not? It is not a charity - why would it give away money for free? You keep going on about sharing the wealth - why aren't other rich boards subject to these questions?

I'm not a big BCCI fan, but this and a number of recent articles on Cricinfo have taken BCCI-bashing too far. Objectivity is out the window, you are just taking potshots below the belt.

Posted by preempalaver on (October 13, 2008, 15:00 GMT)

Why is the ECB complaining ? After all if the ECB can sell itself to Alan Stanford why is it impemissible for Sri Lanka to go along with the BCCI ?

Posted by ermalai on (October 13, 2008, 14:22 GMT)

excellent rkannancrown...I agree with you. cricinfo is anti-india. And I would like to know why? is it because BCCI doesn't share their clout with cricinfo editors and staff?

why are the cricinfo commentators so much baised. why they ignore genuine criticsms. I appreciate your comment.

Cricinfo appears to have an anti india approach. Read the coverage of the Bangalore test and see the comments. Several close LBW appeals against Katicand Ponting were given in the batsman's favour.This is acceptable on the premise that the benefit of doubt should go to the batsman. However,Dravid,Ganguly and Kumble were definitely not out and the benefit of doubt, if any, was given to the boif any, was given to the bowler. Cricinfo should try to be unbiased.

Posted by pom_basher on (October 13, 2008, 14:06 GMT)

IPL runs for a month or two... the rest of the time is there to play the game in whites. BCCI is not stopping you. IPL is not stepping on FTP's tows. SL's england tour is not part of FTP. Its just that the poms dont want to play Zimbabwe and want to rope Sri Lanka in. Now what if Sri Lanka does not tour or send a second string team? Hasn't these english sent substandard teams to tour the subcontinent? Where was the "statesmanship and a wider concern for cricket's global well-being" then? Its not even BCCI thats forcing SL into anything... still every tom dick and harry will cry foul over BCCI's muscle flexing. If Test cricket is the only form of cricket then why did the angrez guys invented T20 and for that matter even ODIs? the english (or is it english and welsh?... i never get it...) should stop worrying about whats happening with IPL and concentrate on the Stanford lottery. I love the test cricket more than anything and cannot stand T20 by the way...

Posted by poetryinmotion on (October 13, 2008, 13:12 GMT)

My simple advice to the ICC and ECB - Put your money where your mouth is. I am not a big fan of IPL, didn't watch a single game. I am all for test cricket and the thought of Lee steaming in to have a go at the Indian batsmen has far wider appeal to me. However, the whole nonsense of terms like "greater good" and "statesmanship" makes me sick. Whose greater good are we referring to? The game of test cricket has been played for a 131 years internationally, it survived the invention of the ODI and thus will survive the T20 as well. And please stop using terms like "Indian/Asian", I know about the English habit of being orgasmic about snide comments but honestly I would put that away in this day and age. We refer to you as English or Australian or South African or whatever, I urge you to do the same and show some respect. Your next pay cheque might very well come from India very soon as it did for your forefathers 200 years ago when we were the wealthiest nation on earth. Krish

Posted by rkannancrown on (October 13, 2008, 13:06 GMT)

Sambit beleives test cricket is better than T20.He is entitled to his views. However,the accusations of BCCI's clout is meaningless. Stories about flaunting its muscle power have increased after the Sydney test. The fact is Symonds lodged a complaint, Proctor went along but BCCI appealed as per ICC procedure. A judge from New Zeland found Harbhajan not guilty and questioned the spirit and words of Symonds, Hayden and Ponting. Any other board would have got this trio punished but BCCI did not persue the matter. This is called use of financial clout ! Cricinfo appears to have an anti india approach. Read the coverage of the Bangalore test and see the comments. Several close LBW appeals against Katich and Ponting were given in the batsman's favour.This is acceptable on the premise that the benefit of doubt should go to the batsman. However,Dravid,Ganguly and Kumble were definitely not out and the benefit of doubt, if any, was given to the bowler. Cricinfo should try to be balanced.

Posted by boltfromheaven on (October 13, 2008, 11:31 GMT)

The boards of Australia and South Africa have seen the light and are playing along. The English board had better do that same quick or it will be playing a regular test series with Ireland and Canada in the near future. Perchance thats a good thing. It might raise the standard of cricket in a few "new" nations as it were to test level and broaden the appeal and base. The ECB long ago lost its natural pole position. The BCCI are clearly in the lead here and the ECB will have to learn anew the art of getting along with others, perhaps even tugging the odd forelock.

Posted by hinnavaru on (October 13, 2008, 11:25 GMT)

KRISNA2007

i love 20-20. i like IPL. How is this not loving cricket ?? Have you ever played cricket in school, college, in your colony, on roads and in big grounds where you have to share the ground with 50 different teams? I have done all the above for as less as 11rupees as prise money(when I was a 10 year old and we used to pool our pocket money. Our cricket would always be for either 10 overs or 20 overs each. We thoroughly enjoyed it and that's the name of the game. Australia v India semifinal at world2020 was the best game I watched for a long time and not just because India won it.

Posted by IPLFan on (October 13, 2008, 11:08 GMT)

Krishna, bcci is an autonomous body and they are doing what they think is best for their organization. Instead of asking them to form a separate body, why don't the Test cricket fans form a parallel organization, rope in a few sponsors and organize Test matches to their hearts' content?

Posted by Krishna2007 on (October 13, 2008, 10:27 GMT)

I am from India and am really sad that Lalit Modi and the egregious crowd in the BCCI will call the shots for Cricket. If these idiots are interested only in T20, why should they not form a separate T20 admin for their cricket (note Ma no capital letter!) and do their limited damage. Let the jokers such as Dhonis and assorted creatures join them and make money and leave serious Cricket to those who really love the game, and have more talent. Even now, real Cricket is Test Matches and the longer version. The rest is just some bastardised version masquerading as the game. T20 and yes, even ODIs, do not need the skills that are part and parcel of the longer version.

Posted by dancingjetcat on (October 13, 2008, 10:01 GMT)

time to face facts here. the April/May Test series in England is dead in the water, killed by the IPL schedule. Bangladesh are due in 2010, Sri Lanka the following year. anyone think they'll happen. no me neither.

Posted by IPLFan on (October 13, 2008, 9:55 GMT)

@pragmatist,

transcending national rivalries is exactly what bcci is doing. They have created a club league where players from different nationalities play together and now with this deal (and also by roping in CA and CSA for champions league deal) they are ensuring that the benefit from this league goes to boards of various countries.

Posted by pragmatist on (October 13, 2008, 9:28 GMT)

I'm afraid I don't trust BCCI to run the world game. Governance of a sport needs to transcend national rivalries and be for the good of the sport. I've yet to see how BCCI's new found wealth has benefited cricket.

Posted by hinnavaru on (October 13, 2008, 9:25 GMT)

20-20 is a business model. If any person/organisation feel that a product is viable then they have every right to create and sell that product. Now, anyone can be creative. Some can be creative and sit on it for ages and some can borrow ideas and act on it pretty quickly. Whichever way, BCCI is successful. Other boards are not. Every board had equal opportunity to be creative. Some boards have people like Ranatunga who have absolutely no business sense other than some misplaced nationalistic thoughts. ECB, again, had a chance to form a powerful quartet, which they threw away. IPL is bad, BCCI is another microsoft, but ICL and Stanford are good. Now when BCCI/SA/CA rule the cricket world I am sure ECB will have some grudges. SLC is making sure that they are financially stable for a period OF 10 YEARS. ICC/ECB can never offer that kind of money, so what is wrong? All ICC has to do is draw up a plan where there is test cricket for 8 months in an year and 2 months left for IPL.

Posted by Charindra on (October 13, 2008, 8:54 GMT)

Excellent article that considers the situation from all angles. I hate to say this but Twenty20 seems to be getting bigger by the day, and any attempts by the ECB to combat the dominance of the BCCI would also be through Twenty20! So the future of Test Cricket, at least from a spectator's point of view, is bleak. This agreement reminds me of Robert Johnson, a blues guitarist in the early 20th century. Legend has it that he made a deal with the devil, selling his soul in exchange for his mesmerizing guitar skills. The SLC may gain huge monetary benefits from this deal, but it would feel so hollow.

Posted by Mythsmoke on (October 13, 2008, 7:50 GMT)

The commercialization of cirkcet should be welcomed. Players should get to make more money. The only questions that remain are: 1 - Is Twenty20 is spreading the sport globally? hardly. It seems to be a money making exercise (like I said nothing wrong with that) and more about helping ICC countries attract spectators who dont show up for test matches or one days. So all these attempts to take Twenty20 to the Olympics - its all hog wash. 2 - Who will be the furture stars in this competition - are we going to see retired dad's army of tendulkars, dravids, gangulys, haydens, kallis's etc playing? One reason why IPL was so exciting was that it had superstas player who had earned their worth in bilateral competitions.

Posted by Shashi_23 on (October 13, 2008, 7:39 GMT)

The ECB does not have the stature nor the intent to set right the ills of cricket. On one hand it has embraced "Sir Alan Stanford" on the other hand it condemns the IPL but supports the ICL. It also seems that Mr Nasser Hussain has become the unofficial spokeperson of the ECB's agenda. Make no mistake i love Test cricket and prefer it over T20. But quality series are far and few . only a handful encounters are worth watching. Let cricket ride the wave (read T20) and lets hope they would come up with a good formula that does not compromise the game. Because there are still a Few Good men around even in the BCCI and more than a few in form of the ex-players

Posted by longridge on (October 13, 2008, 7:03 GMT)

The fact that crickt is going down the pan is plainly obvious from every comment made by an indian/asian. Twenty20 is a joke game, its just hit and giggle. batsman don't have to earn their runs due to fielding restrictions and bowlers don't have to earn wickets as everyone gets out either slashing it straight up in the air or they get bowled trying to tonk it out the ground. I had no problem with india being in control of the cricket world,but if all they are going to do is organise loads of stupid twenty20 games and pay off all the other boards to go along with it then its just crap. what is more important, making loads of money giving middle class indians a fun family experience or giving real cricket fans real cricket?

Posted by crickstats on (October 13, 2008, 7:02 GMT)

What does the savior of Sri Lankan cricket Arjuna Ranatunga will say? we haven't heard anything from him since the news of the deal. I don't think he will speak, because the money has spoken. Moreover, I doubt these deals will stick once the board or the government changes, that is the big problem with Sri Lankan board. The whole scenario is because the previous board authorised the players to play in IPL without any hassle, and the present one led Arjuna wanted players to play for country.

Posted by JaySarkar on (October 13, 2008, 6:08 GMT)

The romantic notion of commercialisation being an unwanted evil that rapes the sanctity of altruistic statesmanship promoting test cricket must be laid to rest and quickly too. I'd be keen to see the 'western' cricket bodies led by England to comtemplate their own lives within the misery of poverty that many in the 'eastern' block endure. It would not come as a surprise if they chose the western lifestyle. Standards should not be different for cricket and its globalisation. Just as the world depends of USA's gratuitous consumption to drive global economy, so does BCCI's funds for the ICC and others. Its foolish for the Morgans of the world to take unbrage - set up a parallel economy and entice others rather than talk of hollow morality and 'unacceptabble'-ity. An unipolar world is not good and to that end people have to generate the cash and interest in countries outside of India and stop kicking the golden goose in the mouth.

Posted by Looch on (October 13, 2008, 3:50 GMT)

An excellent article once again Sambit. You perfectly summed up the situation with your final 3 paragraphs. I have no problem with whoever has the "power" in world criket, just as long as the power is not abused and our great game suffers.

Posted by IPLFan on (October 13, 2008, 3:45 GMT)

My only objection to the proposed deal is that Modi has failed to drive a hard bargain. For 70 million US dollars, BCCI should have sought complete takeover of SLC rather than just ensuring their players' presence in IPL.

But anyway, at least the deal is on the right track towards taking over of world cricket by BCCI.

As for your comment, "BCCI, which has shown plenty of imagination and drive in commercialising the game, but not statesmanship and a wider concern for cricket's global well-being" - what a strange comment. Global well-being of cricket can be ensured only through ensuring its commercial success. Playing endless Test matches between West Indies and New Zealand in front of empty stands isn't going to ensure well-being of cricket. In fact it is the club model of IPL which can spread cricket's popularity far and wide.

Posted by vswami on (October 13, 2008, 3:43 GMT)

The fact that Sri Lanka is bankrupt is known for quite some time. If ICC is really concerned about it, why not share some cash with Sri Lankan board ? You cant keep all the cash to yourself and then cry hoarse when someone else steps in to help. The fact is England, Australia cant be bothered about Sri Lankan and Pakistani cricket. The Indian board is stepping up to help them .. whats wrong with that. If things were to run the way English board wants it, then there would be no cricket left in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies simply because they would be bankrupt.

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Sambit Bal Editor-in-chief Sambit Bal took to journalism at the age of 19 after realising that he wasn't fit for anything else, and to cricket journalism 14 years later when it dawned on him that it provided the perfect excuse to watch cricket in the office. Among other things he has bowled legspin, occasionally landing the ball in front of the batsman; laid out the comics page of a newspaper; covered crime, urban development and politics; and edited Gentleman, a monthly features magazine. He joined Wisden in 2001 and edited Wisden Asia Cricket and Cricinfo Magazine. He still spends his spare time watching cricket.

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