February 17, 2009

Cricket at the crunch

Recent events have shown that the game is not immune to the global economic meltdown
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Allen Stanford's business empire has begun to feel the pinch, and West Indies cricket is set to be hit hard as a result © Getty Images
 

Bull markets can be long, bull markets can be short, but they all, at some point, end - and, as of last week, cricket's Twenty20-fuelled boom suddenly looks decidedly shaky.

In short order came news that the third season of Subhash Chandra's Indian Cricket League has been at least delayed, preparatory to a review of its swollen player stocks, and that Allen Stanford's Twenty20 Challenge has been consigned to oblivion. The ICL might yet endure in modified form, and has already done somewhat better than expected, turning from what began as the expression of a rich man's pique into a spectacle with a certain vernacular charm - like the Indian Premier League without the pretension and grandiosity. Stanford's troubles look less tractable: his opaque financial group faces scrutiny by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Internal Revenue Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The ICL's problems derive in part from the hypocrisies of the BCCI. The Indian Premier League exists on one hand to exalt and celebrate the maximum freedom of trade: no national loyalties, no regional loyalties, the highest bidder prevails, turbo-capitalist market forces rule. Yet the BCCI runs it as the most anti-competitive of monopolies, leading inter alia to the persecution of players as demonstrably loyal to their countries as Jason Gillespie and Mohammed Yousuf for doing no more than exercising their prerogative as professionals. As reprehensible as the acquiescence in this of the boards of Australia, Pakistan and England has been the supine response of the normally ever-so-outspoken Federation of International Cricket Associations, which has silently allowed its members' free agency to be not just restricted but punished.

Stanford's travails owe more to a business model containing more hope than Barack Obama's election campaign. With colour, movement and general razzmatazz, Stanford helped revive domestic cricket in the Caribbean - something well beyond the endless incapabilities of the West Indies Cricket Board. But the payoffs were paltry, and the fear must now be that the withdrawal of his resources will leave the region, and the game therein, worse off than when he found it.

In the main, though, the message is that cricket is not impervious to the business cycle, that spectacles of a marginal nature conceived in times of plenty cannot be guaranteed in a more austere future - call it, if you like, cricket's own sub-prime crisis. Crises, moreover, are contagious: investors hear and observe that others aren't investing, and the multiplier effect of the healthy economy becomes the divider phenomenon of the weak one. The BCCI already has some experience of this: having failed to sell sponsorship rights for the Champions League it was spared more public embarrassment by the event's deferral. The enterprises whose futures are still more clouded are the likes of England's 20-team P20, from which the England cricket board is already backing off, and the franchise-based Twenty20 tournament scheduled in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand for two years hence.

 
 
Last year's IPL competition was partly sustained by its novelty, following the famous investment principle that a rising tide lifts all boats. In the next few years, expect more evidence of Warren Buffett's famous corollary: "When the tide goes out, you learn who's been swimming naked"
 

The BCCI will have surveyed with satisfaction the eclipse of its nemesis, Chandra, and setbacks in the ECB's efforts to establish an alternative sphere of cricket influence using Stanford's moolah - happenings that further consolidate the official Indian game as cricket's exchequer. But even the second IPL, scheduled to begin on 10 April, starts under somewhat less auspicious circumstances than the first. As football's premier league demonstrates, the spoils of a league do not distribute evenly: there are winners and losers off the field as surely as on. Last year's competition was partly sustained by its novelty, following the famous investment principle that a rising tide lifts all boats. In the next few years, expect more evidence of Warren Buffett's famous corollary: "When the tide goes out, you learn who's been swimming naked."

Some set-up expenses incurred in the first year will presumably not recur, and there will be accounting benefits from depreciation and amortisation, but how well the franchises have retained their value will not really be understood until one changes hands, or the franchises mooted for Kanpur and Ahmedabad find buyers - always assuming that these can find sufficient playing strength when most of the world's choicest cricket talent is already contracted. It might turn out that the time to move on was immediately after the first season, when the euphoria would have guaranteed a sizeable mark-up even for the loss-making franchises. At the time, of course, everyone was chuffed to bits about Lalit Modi's multimedia Mardi Gras. But another investment maxim teaches that nobody should ever feel bad about taking a profit.

An irony of the moment is that we in Australia have just enjoyed perhaps the most intriguing and involving summer of international cricket in memory. The Tests and one-day matches against South Africa, the one-day matches involving New Zealand, and even the Twenty20 internationals have been almost uniformly worth watching; the balance between the various forms of cricket has felt exactly right; the volumes likewise. Andrew Symonds' periodic fatuities apart, there have been no depressing controversies; the cricket, on the contrary, has been played in excellent spirit and with red-blooded conviction. Much of the credit for that should go to the players, especially the fresher faces like JP Duminy and Peter Siddle, but Cricket Australia can feel justly satisfied by a summer not a day long. Were cricket not so confirmed in its capacity to mismanage success and squander goodwill, one might almost paraphrase Lincoln Steffens: "I have seen the future and it works."

It is hard to imagine, in fact, how the summer would have been improved by a southern hemisphere Twenty20 franchise tournament; just as it is difficult to make out how the Ashes summer of 2009 would have been enriched by the full-scale P20 originally envisaged. The argument for more commercial "innovation" in cricket has routinely been the necessity to meet an imagined "market"; to quote ECB chairman Giles Clarke last July, it is "about giving the spectator what they want". Yet this is flim-flam: the real market involves selling properties to sponsors, broadcasters, licensees and now wannabee franchisees, which might or might not then catch on with spectators, viewers and consumers. And the question is now: what happens when that market materially changes?

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jokerbala on February 19, 2009, 13:07 GMT

    @redneck The ICL can easily take the moral high ground in this issue ,but it will not help to resolve the conflict in anyway.Resolution of a conflict needs both parties to agree.May be it is the ICL that is not giving into BCCI's demands to resolve the issue,who is to know?Besides, when two of your kids(with one bully) are fighting over something, do you watch them tearing each other apart? You mediate ,which the ICC clearly is not interested in.The other boards also haven't been able to stand up to BCCI to protect their "national treasures" if they are so interested in them at the first place.All parties ,including few players have their hands dirty in this issue,why single out BCCI? Playing meek victims? cheers.

  • redneck on February 18, 2009, 23:04 GMT

    @jokerbala i do however blame the bcci in full for shane bond and others not playing international cricket because without the bcci's stance on this shane bond would still be playing for new zealand! bond did everything right he got permission from nzc to take part in the icl(the ipl didnt even exist!) and even had it written in his contract that new zealand comes first! nzc would select him first choice if they had their way but the bcci demanded them not too and nzc scarred of the consequences of not obeying the all powerful bcci they obliged! australian cricket had a simmilar problem in the late 70's with kerry packer and channel 9 and that was resolved in just over a year from when bans were put on players and the game was better for the whole saga with ODI and tv coverage improving ten fold! here though the bcci has no intention of resolving the issue for the greater good as they dont care about anything apart from themselves and their bottom line why the rest pay the price!

  • Suresh_Krishnamurthy on February 18, 2009, 18:07 GMT

    What happens when the market changes - Ha ha ha. T20's market share will increase. ODI's will fall. Perhaps Test Matches too will find it hard to find sponsors. That is reality. We may not like it. Aside from this, it is truly difficult to find one of cricket's cerebral and truly great writers self-destructing himself with his hatred for BCCI and IPL. What started off as a rant has now assumed alarming proportions. Gideon himself will look back at these times as lost years and is likely to recant much of the venom that he has spewed. What a waste of talent.

  • riteshjsr on February 18, 2009, 17:31 GMT

    choo_for_twenty_choo, the world has learnt its lessons from the Packer drama and BCCI is a lot richer than ACB was. There's no chance that Subhash Chandra will be able to run ICL as a parallel league for too long. The international players playing in the ICL made an informed decision. They knew the ICC would not take kindly to their 'defection', yet they chose to go ahead with it. No player is indispensable. A depleted NZ side almost beat Aus in the ODI series, right? If a Shane Bond goes, a Kyle Mills will take his place. I appreciate the point that you are trying to make. World cricket has lost good players to this squabble between the ICC / BCCI and the ICL, but then as I said earlier, these players made an informed decision and will now have to bear the consequences. Let me add that I love all 3 forms of the game and I've no financial interest in the IPL but I'm tired of this IPL bashing that cricket administrators and journalists have been indulging in.

  • jokerbala on February 18, 2009, 14:37 GMT

    @redneck It is the ICC clause against unrecognized competition which prevents Bond,Yousuf and co from playing for their respective boards and not BCCI.The ICC has not had the gall to resolve this debatable clause in its constitution and it has washed its hand off again to put the onus on the respective boards to deal with their competition(ICL in this case).So, how the BCCI will deal with it is anybody's guess,given its reputation as that of a bully. Ever since I saw him ripping apart the Aussies in a VB series I have been a big fan of Shane Bond and it is a shame people like me will not see him in his national colors but to put the blame entirely on BCCI is a tad unjust.The point here is that the Parent body ICC is not being to able to rein in an arrogant offspring.

  • spongebat_squarestumps on February 18, 2009, 12:33 GMT

    <cont'd> riteshjsr - "it was not Marsh's performance in the Aus domestic tournaments that got him into the national team but his performance in the IPL". Er, no. It was Marsh's performance in the Aus domestic tournaments (and particularly T20) that got him into the IPL - at the end of last season, he was the top Twenty20 batsman in the country with 290 at 58. Considering his successes in ALL forms of domestic cricket - T20, ODI and Pura Cup - combined with his pedigree, Shaun Marsh's destiny in the Australian team was assured - IPL or no IPL.

  • spongebat_squarestumps on February 18, 2009, 12:22 GMT

    riteshjsr - you need to look up "World Series Cricket" and "Kerry Packer" on wikipedia and see what happened. Then also read my reply to vswami about the changing legalities of ICL. Lastly, I would add that you cannot compare the loss of domestic Indian players from POSSIBLE future Indian (T20) team representation to the DEFINITE, IMMEDIATE and IRRETREIVABLE loss of EXISTING international cricketers from Test and ODI cricket (and also young player coaching). Remember - the whole rationale for ICL/IPL getting top international players was to improve (by exposure) the quality of India's domestic players. Sure the internationals line their pockets - but so too do IPL/ICL and their sponsors. I care not for the victor of India's domestic T20 squabble; but I do care that my kids and I will never again see Shane Bond do battle with the Aussie top order, and that a successful bowler (and double centurion!) like Jason Gillespie is not allowed to coach my young kids in the art of fast bowling.

  • riteshjsr on February 18, 2009, 8:51 GMT

    <contd.> As regards the ban on players, let me tell you India have lost a lot of players who were playing domestic cricket to ICL. The teams of Hyderabad and Karnataka have been considerably weakened. Now, why should BCCI allow these players to come back and play for the BCCI when they've decided to go with a parallel league? Same principle applies to the international signings in the ICL.

  • riteshjsr on February 18, 2009, 8:43 GMT

    To Cricpolitics - The first thing you need to understand is that the BCCI is a private entity which has the right to defend its interests. What will CA do if let's say Channel 9 decided to launch its own league in Australia, woo away the players playing domestic cricket, and then ask CA to recognize it and worse, provide infrastructure to them? The other thing - it's not the BCCI but the ICC code which prohibits unauthorized competition. All the ICC member boards agree to and abide by this norm. Nothing to do with the BCCI. As regards the other point you raised, of players getting 'discovered', let me remind you that it was not Marsh's performance in the Aus domestic tournaments that got him into the national team but his performance in the IPL. Ditto D Hussey. Y Pathan was on the fringes till IPL happened. As for D Kulkarni, you'll soon know who he is when he rips the NZ batting apart. There are a host of other cricketers in India who have come into the reckoning post IPL.

  • Saibaskar on February 18, 2009, 3:04 GMT

    If BCCI did not oppose ICL then each sports channel in India would start their own league. And yes they indeed have money to do so and India has enough market to provide them with decent return even in recession. But, international cricket will suffer and cricket will end up becoming what baseball is. A sport played more between clubs and less between nations. Both Stanford and ICL could not sustain during recession because they basically belonged to a single rich entity on the contrary IPL is a broadbased investment and does not hinge on a single man's fortune. A single IPL than several leagues is a safer bet for international cricket.

  • jokerbala on February 19, 2009, 13:07 GMT

    @redneck The ICL can easily take the moral high ground in this issue ,but it will not help to resolve the conflict in anyway.Resolution of a conflict needs both parties to agree.May be it is the ICL that is not giving into BCCI's demands to resolve the issue,who is to know?Besides, when two of your kids(with one bully) are fighting over something, do you watch them tearing each other apart? You mediate ,which the ICC clearly is not interested in.The other boards also haven't been able to stand up to BCCI to protect their "national treasures" if they are so interested in them at the first place.All parties ,including few players have their hands dirty in this issue,why single out BCCI? Playing meek victims? cheers.

  • redneck on February 18, 2009, 23:04 GMT

    @jokerbala i do however blame the bcci in full for shane bond and others not playing international cricket because without the bcci's stance on this shane bond would still be playing for new zealand! bond did everything right he got permission from nzc to take part in the icl(the ipl didnt even exist!) and even had it written in his contract that new zealand comes first! nzc would select him first choice if they had their way but the bcci demanded them not too and nzc scarred of the consequences of not obeying the all powerful bcci they obliged! australian cricket had a simmilar problem in the late 70's with kerry packer and channel 9 and that was resolved in just over a year from when bans were put on players and the game was better for the whole saga with ODI and tv coverage improving ten fold! here though the bcci has no intention of resolving the issue for the greater good as they dont care about anything apart from themselves and their bottom line why the rest pay the price!

  • Suresh_Krishnamurthy on February 18, 2009, 18:07 GMT

    What happens when the market changes - Ha ha ha. T20's market share will increase. ODI's will fall. Perhaps Test Matches too will find it hard to find sponsors. That is reality. We may not like it. Aside from this, it is truly difficult to find one of cricket's cerebral and truly great writers self-destructing himself with his hatred for BCCI and IPL. What started off as a rant has now assumed alarming proportions. Gideon himself will look back at these times as lost years and is likely to recant much of the venom that he has spewed. What a waste of talent.

  • riteshjsr on February 18, 2009, 17:31 GMT

    choo_for_twenty_choo, the world has learnt its lessons from the Packer drama and BCCI is a lot richer than ACB was. There's no chance that Subhash Chandra will be able to run ICL as a parallel league for too long. The international players playing in the ICL made an informed decision. They knew the ICC would not take kindly to their 'defection', yet they chose to go ahead with it. No player is indispensable. A depleted NZ side almost beat Aus in the ODI series, right? If a Shane Bond goes, a Kyle Mills will take his place. I appreciate the point that you are trying to make. World cricket has lost good players to this squabble between the ICC / BCCI and the ICL, but then as I said earlier, these players made an informed decision and will now have to bear the consequences. Let me add that I love all 3 forms of the game and I've no financial interest in the IPL but I'm tired of this IPL bashing that cricket administrators and journalists have been indulging in.

  • jokerbala on February 18, 2009, 14:37 GMT

    @redneck It is the ICC clause against unrecognized competition which prevents Bond,Yousuf and co from playing for their respective boards and not BCCI.The ICC has not had the gall to resolve this debatable clause in its constitution and it has washed its hand off again to put the onus on the respective boards to deal with their competition(ICL in this case).So, how the BCCI will deal with it is anybody's guess,given its reputation as that of a bully. Ever since I saw him ripping apart the Aussies in a VB series I have been a big fan of Shane Bond and it is a shame people like me will not see him in his national colors but to put the blame entirely on BCCI is a tad unjust.The point here is that the Parent body ICC is not being to able to rein in an arrogant offspring.

  • spongebat_squarestumps on February 18, 2009, 12:33 GMT

    <cont'd> riteshjsr - "it was not Marsh's performance in the Aus domestic tournaments that got him into the national team but his performance in the IPL". Er, no. It was Marsh's performance in the Aus domestic tournaments (and particularly T20) that got him into the IPL - at the end of last season, he was the top Twenty20 batsman in the country with 290 at 58. Considering his successes in ALL forms of domestic cricket - T20, ODI and Pura Cup - combined with his pedigree, Shaun Marsh's destiny in the Australian team was assured - IPL or no IPL.

  • spongebat_squarestumps on February 18, 2009, 12:22 GMT

    riteshjsr - you need to look up "World Series Cricket" and "Kerry Packer" on wikipedia and see what happened. Then also read my reply to vswami about the changing legalities of ICL. Lastly, I would add that you cannot compare the loss of domestic Indian players from POSSIBLE future Indian (T20) team representation to the DEFINITE, IMMEDIATE and IRRETREIVABLE loss of EXISTING international cricketers from Test and ODI cricket (and also young player coaching). Remember - the whole rationale for ICL/IPL getting top international players was to improve (by exposure) the quality of India's domestic players. Sure the internationals line their pockets - but so too do IPL/ICL and their sponsors. I care not for the victor of India's domestic T20 squabble; but I do care that my kids and I will never again see Shane Bond do battle with the Aussie top order, and that a successful bowler (and double centurion!) like Jason Gillespie is not allowed to coach my young kids in the art of fast bowling.

  • riteshjsr on February 18, 2009, 8:51 GMT

    <contd.> As regards the ban on players, let me tell you India have lost a lot of players who were playing domestic cricket to ICL. The teams of Hyderabad and Karnataka have been considerably weakened. Now, why should BCCI allow these players to come back and play for the BCCI when they've decided to go with a parallel league? Same principle applies to the international signings in the ICL.

  • riteshjsr on February 18, 2009, 8:43 GMT

    To Cricpolitics - The first thing you need to understand is that the BCCI is a private entity which has the right to defend its interests. What will CA do if let's say Channel 9 decided to launch its own league in Australia, woo away the players playing domestic cricket, and then ask CA to recognize it and worse, provide infrastructure to them? The other thing - it's not the BCCI but the ICC code which prohibits unauthorized competition. All the ICC member boards agree to and abide by this norm. Nothing to do with the BCCI. As regards the other point you raised, of players getting 'discovered', let me remind you that it was not Marsh's performance in the Aus domestic tournaments that got him into the national team but his performance in the IPL. Ditto D Hussey. Y Pathan was on the fringes till IPL happened. As for D Kulkarni, you'll soon know who he is when he rips the NZ batting apart. There are a host of other cricketers in India who have come into the reckoning post IPL.

  • Saibaskar on February 18, 2009, 3:04 GMT

    If BCCI did not oppose ICL then each sports channel in India would start their own league. And yes they indeed have money to do so and India has enough market to provide them with decent return even in recession. But, international cricket will suffer and cricket will end up becoming what baseball is. A sport played more between clubs and less between nations. Both Stanford and ICL could not sustain during recession because they basically belonged to a single rich entity on the contrary IPL is a broadbased investment and does not hinge on a single man's fortune. A single IPL than several leagues is a safer bet for international cricket.

  • TwitterJitter on February 18, 2009, 2:47 GMT

    Frankly I or for that matter many Indians don't really care if ICL survives or goes belly up. It is a piece of garbage. You see a few voices making loud noise on these forums supporting ICL because they seem to have some sort of an investment (either family or friend playing etc) in it. Therefore you will see some of those people passionately defending ICL on this forum while frankly many many millions don't care one bit. As for Gideon's whining about BCCI, I say "what's new?" or more importantly "who cares?".

  • IPLFan on February 18, 2009, 1:25 GMT

    Kdarr, no, bcci does not have any monopoly on deciding who represents the "national" team. The team that they select is just a bcci team and bcci is affiliated with another private entity (ICC) and as a result of that affiliation bcci gets to choose the team that takes part in events approved by ICC. ICL is free to form a parallel body to ICC and start their own international matches. Then they too will have an Indian team. There is nothing to prevent them from doing that. Or they can go and persuade ICC that the latte should accept an ICL team as Indian team instead of bcci's.

  • vswami on February 18, 2009, 1:17 GMT

    choo_for_twenty_choo - ICC's constitution says unauthorised competition is banned, its not BCCI that mandates it ! Get your facts straight. ICCs constitution was created, vetted and agreed by all its member countries, so please check with all the boards as to why they all want to ban unauthorised competition. PCB is looking like an idiot .. it doesnt even seems to be aware of the the constitution to which it is a party to. Cricket Australia has said officially that it might boycott one dayers against Pakistan if Pakistan violates the ICC constitution later this year by selecting ICL players. That has nothing to do with BCCI. Kindly check with CA why they want to do so. All cricket boards have the same concern about unauthorised competitions going out of control. Why should BSkyB pay crazy amounts of money to ECB for telecast rights when it might be far cheaper for them to backward integrate and organise competitions on their own and share greater revenue with the players themselves.

  • redneck on February 17, 2009, 23:49 GMT

    @jokerbala if the bcci want to protect their infrastructure then i have no problem with that. what i do have a problem with is that yousuf, bond and co can not represent their countries due to the bcci! what right does the cricket board of india have to interfere with team selectons of other nations! when they themselves refused to listen when the icc banned sehwag for one test against south africa, they played him anyway and the match lost its status! hypocritical much??? anyway if india win a test or ODI against new zealand by only a handful of runs or by only one or two wickets then i hope some of you indian supporters are honest enough to admit that you should have lost due to shane bond not being able to take his rightful position in the new zealand team!

  • elsmallo on February 17, 2009, 23:19 GMT

    "The message is that cricket is not impervious to the business cycle". Well, yes. It was built by the Victorians, after all. It wasn't built on a pack of cards either. As pointed out, the show will go on, as right now in Antigua, where we should probably be more worried about Stanford's various philanthrophic ventures (likely fronts though they now seem). People tend towards errors of judgement, as Giles Clarke put it, when other people's money is being dangled in front of their noses. Just compare the SRV Stadium - built with Chinese money on flawed grounds (in every way), and the ARG - a real stadium with a real purpose. What can I say? That I hope cricket administrators should concern themselves with cricket, and not money? This is clearly wishful thinking. But I do care when NZ don't pick Shane Bond, largely because of the prerogatives of the BCCI. I do care when the ECB throws money at ridiculous initiatives like the P20. Because I was a kid once, and I was into Test cricket.

  • kingofspain on February 17, 2009, 22:22 GMT

    The 20/20 bubble will burst in the near future. It's boring and real cricket supporters don't care about it. Once the novelty wears off, the casual supporter who showed up just out of curiosity (often they were given free tickets as well) will move on to something else for their entertainment.

    As a supporter of real cricket, I'm looking forward to this. We don't have to worry about Standford ruining the game any more. English 20/20 attendances are down 20% from their peak in 2006. People are getting tired of 20/20. It may not be obvious now 20/20 is already on the decline.

    The BCCI is only allowed to get away with its bullying behavior because of the cowardice of the other boards. If I ran NZC Shane Bond would be in the team for the first test next month.

  • GoodCricketWicket on February 17, 2009, 20:44 GMT

    With Allen Stanford now being charged with fraud in the US, the potential for huge damage to cricket arises. West Indies recent improvement on the field is threatened by the loss of their biggest source of income. The ECB is embarrassed (again) by a relationship that has now been shown to be a bad piece of judgement.

    Cricket has been swiftly selling it's soul for the sake of a fist full of dollars. Let's hope for the good of the sport that the events of today act as solid kick up the backside. Read more at http://goodcricketwicket.co.uk?p=71

  • spongebat_squarestumps on February 17, 2009, 16:51 GMT

    ChinmayD - BCCI's stance with ICL is NOT correct. You are saying that the IPL can only succeed if BCCI create artificial barriers and so monopolise the domestic T20 game - and it can do it only by destroying the careers of non-IPL international signings? Seriously? This in a country of more than 1 BILLION people?! The Indian market isn't so small that it cannot support more than one T20 league competition and then let the sponsors/ broadcasters/ viewers decide who wins. So what if "every Sports Channel in India will start their own T20 Tournament" - it is difficult enough now to schedule another international window, so let the market decide. Truth is, the IPL CAN develop a successful franchise concept on its own; but I fear that they simply represent extreme greed by willfully abusing India cricket's economic power past its own borders. On cricket's economic playing field, there is definitely one cricket board that isn't playing within the sporting spirit of the game of capitalism...

  • cricpolitics on February 17, 2009, 14:45 GMT

    riteshjsr said "A lot of players got 'discovered' (S Marsh, Y Pathan, D Kulkarni) while a few redeemed their careers (Watson, Raina)."

    First of all they are not at all alot of players and secondly they are not product of IPL. S Marsh is a product of Australian domestice cricket, Y Patahn had alrady played T20 world cup and other matches for India so he was not a discovery of the IPL, and now left the alone D Kulkarni, I don't even know who is this cricketer.

    Secondly you have completely ignored the fact that many international cricketers have lost their places in their national and domestic teams due to IPL/ICL. To name few they are Mohammad Yousuf, Abdul Razzaq, Imran Farhat, Imran Nazir, Jason Gillespie, Shane Bond, and almost all of Bangladesh Team recently. Just because there are no Indian players in this list you think that there is no loss. Any sane person could see if cricket has gained or lost anything from IPL.

  • ChinmayD on February 17, 2009, 13:31 GMT

    BCCI's stance with ICL is correct. If ICL experiment succeeds, every Sports Channel in India will start their own T20 Tournament and wreck international cricket completely. And then columnists like Gideon Haigh will write about how BCCI were incompetant to allow this to happen.

  • Kdarr on February 17, 2009, 12:49 GMT

    IPLFan, you are missing a very important factor in the argument you put forward. The BBCI would be within their rights, as a private entity, not to employ players contracted to a rival organisation were it not for the fact that BCCI hold the monopoly on deciding who represents the national team. When the BBCI prevents an individual player from receiving this honour purely on the basis of their own personal commercial gain, it is an inexcusable abuse of power. World cricket should be ashamed that it has allowed this to happen.

  • 9ST9 on February 17, 2009, 12:40 GMT

    The BCCI is acing like a dictator and is using its power to dismantle the ICL.(Even though their IPL is a copy of the ICL) As it seems the BCCI is grasping the cricketing world with its tenacles. This is a serious situation indeed.Every Cricketing nation seems to dance to the BCCI's tunes. True 20-20 is the ideal format for the new era, and it is possible to globalise cricket. But it seems the wrong people are in charge of it.

  • ssm2407 on February 17, 2009, 12:29 GMT

    Whilst I can understand some fans annoyance that the ICL is effectively outlawed by the BCCI, and can sympathise with the likes of Jason Gillespie, Justin Kemp etc who played in the first season of the ICL, I am increasingly bewildered at the stance taken by Mohammed Yousuf. Whether you agree with BCCi's stand or not - rules are rules & it was there for all to see in black & white - Play for the ICL & you are effectively turning your back on playing for your country. Yousuf knew what he was doing & what he was letting himself in for when signing up for the ICl & is in no position to cry wolf now. You cannot expect to eat your cake and not expect to have tummy ache - Yousuf does not have a leg to stand on in his argument, so maybe Mr Haigh should retract the sympathy he feels towards him. If Yousuf wanted to exerecise his perrogative as a professional cricketer, he could have gone down the same route as his batting partner -Younis Khan- & sought a contract playing crikcet in Australia

  • IPLFan on February 17, 2009, 11:46 GMT

    "bcci's hypocricy" - what hypocricy? Sure, the players who played in ICL were only exercising their prerogative as professionals. All that the BCCI and various boards are doing is also to exercise their prerogative as private entities. They have a right to decide who they employ and who they don't, and what most sensible businesses do is to not employ someone who is working for your competitor. Where is the hypocricy in that? Where is the question of monopoly. The very fact that ICL, a rebel organization, is functioning shows that BCCI/ICC is not a monopoly.

  • spongebat_squarestumps on February 17, 2009, 10:59 GMT

    <cont'd> The ICL is not a politically or racially opressive organisation - but merely an economic competitor where the IPL chooses instead to punish it's lawful players. Consider the same applying to Bollywood actors - they come to the UK to appear in a show for a rival BBC TV channel - so the BBC then demand from the Indian Govenment pressures the film studios to ensure that those actors never work (or train ro teach) in Bollywood ever again. I don't know any Indian swear words but I'm sure I'd learn a few from the resonses I'm sure that request would get!

  • spongebat_squarestumps on February 17, 2009, 10:59 GMT

    jokerbala, vswami & aditya_s9 - you seem to have totally missed the point here. I for one am not against Modi's vision and success in creating the IPL. Far from it - I applaud it's very success. But what I cannot agree with is the manner in which he has achieved it. The IPL has no right in asking overseas country cricket boards to ban their own players from coaching or playing ANY form of cricket within their own country just because they, too have done nothing illegal and simply exercised their professional right to play for a competitive domestic T20 league. This is really a tragedy and it is a indefensible loss to us as spectators and future generations. Jason Gillespie, Shane Bond & co are a product of their own sweat and toil, with the investment of their local clubs, states and country cricket boards. To deny them the chance to continue to work, teach and entertain within their own country is a scandal of the highest order.

  • riteshjsr on February 17, 2009, 10:50 GMT

    There seems to be a lot of heartburn among cricket administrators, journalists and so called "purists" across the globe when it comes to IPL. Everyone derided the concept initially (including BCCI), but Modi stuck to his guns and proved to the world how big the event could be. Not only did the event generate a lot of excitement among spectators, but also threw up some great talent. A lot of players got 'discovered' (S Marsh, Y Pathan, D Kulkarni) while a few redeemed their careers (Watson, Raina). It ensured that Indian players playing domestic cricket got to test their skills against the best in the world (A Nayar, S Trivedi, M Gony). What else should a league accomplish?

  • Mooses on February 17, 2009, 9:22 GMT

    I for one have enjoyed the Australian international season - the balance, if not the timing, of matches was good. It was a shame the test matches were squeezed together by the abortive Champion's League. The ODI's were also spread to thin, and shouldn't have run into February. On the domestic front, I have been again appalled by the scheduling, with most first class matches at either end of the season. This has left none in January for players to show their form for the tour of Sth Africa, especially with Test incumbents losing form or fitness and needing replacing. Choosing only on early season form (pre-Christmas) with one game each in late January may have cut out those who are now in the best form. It also left no first class cricket for those not in the One Day team. The obvious culprit is the Big Bash, which went on too long - play more than one game per day. I'm not anti 20/20 (I loved the Bash despite the final result), but it needs to be subordinate.

  • jokerbala on February 17, 2009, 7:44 GMT

    To redneck AND aditya87: While BCCI -read Lalit Modi can be accused of warding of competition using its enormous clout ,it has not done anything illegal.Nobody stopped ICL from conducting the tournament.The ICL has not moved court till now just because it has no case in the first place.What do you expect BCCI do do? allow all the infrastructure built by it to be used by ICL? NOWAY.Then, what would stop another media mogul to start another rebel league?What do you think is ICL's goal, to improve the game at the "grassroots" level? nay.They too look at that last tiny column called profits.BCCI is in the best suited position to reap benifits from the cricket crazy Indian market,which is inviting tonnes of jelousy from its previous colonial masters.

  • aditya87 on February 17, 2009, 6:56 GMT

    To redneck: Yes, India does have laws against anti-competition, and the BCCI was taken to court by the ICL, but nothing happened. Unfortunately the way it works in India is that it's a no-win situation. On the one hand, the BCCI corruptly controls every aspect of the game in the country, but on the other hand, does nothing to improve the standard of the game at the grassroots level. Domestic players with a lot of prospects have no choice but to look for other alternatives because the selectors always have favourites in terms of selection, and if you're not a favourite, doesn't matter if you get 1000 runs or take hundreds of wickets, you'll never be in.

  • acidfaced on February 17, 2009, 6:13 GMT

    What happens when that market materially changes? The cricketers get paid less, the broadcasters generate less ad revenue hence, the amount payable for broadcasting rights decreases and everyone has slightly (or a lot) less money? So what?

    No one is going to stop playing or watching cricket. I don't get the point you're trying to make. Its just the same 'flim-flam' all the 'traditionalists' (and I use that term very arbitrarily)have been saying about the IPL and its effects on world cricket. Yes, the BCCI is a monopolistic organisation that sees nothing but the little column called profits in its year end reports. But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

    Why do you hate money so much?

  • vswami on February 17, 2009, 5:29 GMT

    Of course Gideon's BCCI hatred and money envy is well known and documented. There is no justification for the statement that BCCI would have watched with satisfaction the demise of ECB's plan. BCCI has always welcomed any efforts to increase the overall commercial pie, whether its by ECB or Cricket Australia. They are quite confident and secure in their role, which seems to rattle the mental stability of everyone else. 'Lalit Modi's multimedia MardiGras' is aimed at exploiting the commercial Indian market taking into account the particular tastes and preferences of the Indian audience. He marketed it superbly last year and showed that he was listening to his market. I dont think it needs to be anyone else's problem as to how BCCI markets a domestic tournament to a domestic audience.

  • redneck on February 17, 2009, 4:17 GMT

    does india not have laws in regards to anti competition or restriction of trade???? i find it staggering that a court somewhere throught out the cricket land hasnt told the bcci where they can stick their ICL player bans?!? anyway cricket survived the great depression, this should be a cake walk by comparison. sure tv networks wont shell out the high ammounts of money they were previously willing to pay for telecast rights for the last 5-8 years, as fewer companies are willing to pay premium price for an ad in between overs. but as mentioned above the game its self at international level has never been more competative with the emergence of south africa and india and the bringing back to earth of australia. that will put more bums on seats and get more people tuning in to the cricket than any marketing gimic no matter how clever it is!

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  • redneck on February 17, 2009, 4:17 GMT

    does india not have laws in regards to anti competition or restriction of trade???? i find it staggering that a court somewhere throught out the cricket land hasnt told the bcci where they can stick their ICL player bans?!? anyway cricket survived the great depression, this should be a cake walk by comparison. sure tv networks wont shell out the high ammounts of money they were previously willing to pay for telecast rights for the last 5-8 years, as fewer companies are willing to pay premium price for an ad in between overs. but as mentioned above the game its self at international level has never been more competative with the emergence of south africa and india and the bringing back to earth of australia. that will put more bums on seats and get more people tuning in to the cricket than any marketing gimic no matter how clever it is!

  • vswami on February 17, 2009, 5:29 GMT

    Of course Gideon's BCCI hatred and money envy is well known and documented. There is no justification for the statement that BCCI would have watched with satisfaction the demise of ECB's plan. BCCI has always welcomed any efforts to increase the overall commercial pie, whether its by ECB or Cricket Australia. They are quite confident and secure in their role, which seems to rattle the mental stability of everyone else. 'Lalit Modi's multimedia MardiGras' is aimed at exploiting the commercial Indian market taking into account the particular tastes and preferences of the Indian audience. He marketed it superbly last year and showed that he was listening to his market. I dont think it needs to be anyone else's problem as to how BCCI markets a domestic tournament to a domestic audience.

  • acidfaced on February 17, 2009, 6:13 GMT

    What happens when that market materially changes? The cricketers get paid less, the broadcasters generate less ad revenue hence, the amount payable for broadcasting rights decreases and everyone has slightly (or a lot) less money? So what?

    No one is going to stop playing or watching cricket. I don't get the point you're trying to make. Its just the same 'flim-flam' all the 'traditionalists' (and I use that term very arbitrarily)have been saying about the IPL and its effects on world cricket. Yes, the BCCI is a monopolistic organisation that sees nothing but the little column called profits in its year end reports. But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

    Why do you hate money so much?

  • aditya87 on February 17, 2009, 6:56 GMT

    To redneck: Yes, India does have laws against anti-competition, and the BCCI was taken to court by the ICL, but nothing happened. Unfortunately the way it works in India is that it's a no-win situation. On the one hand, the BCCI corruptly controls every aspect of the game in the country, but on the other hand, does nothing to improve the standard of the game at the grassroots level. Domestic players with a lot of prospects have no choice but to look for other alternatives because the selectors always have favourites in terms of selection, and if you're not a favourite, doesn't matter if you get 1000 runs or take hundreds of wickets, you'll never be in.

  • jokerbala on February 17, 2009, 7:44 GMT

    To redneck AND aditya87: While BCCI -read Lalit Modi can be accused of warding of competition using its enormous clout ,it has not done anything illegal.Nobody stopped ICL from conducting the tournament.The ICL has not moved court till now just because it has no case in the first place.What do you expect BCCI do do? allow all the infrastructure built by it to be used by ICL? NOWAY.Then, what would stop another media mogul to start another rebel league?What do you think is ICL's goal, to improve the game at the "grassroots" level? nay.They too look at that last tiny column called profits.BCCI is in the best suited position to reap benifits from the cricket crazy Indian market,which is inviting tonnes of jelousy from its previous colonial masters.

  • Mooses on February 17, 2009, 9:22 GMT

    I for one have enjoyed the Australian international season - the balance, if not the timing, of matches was good. It was a shame the test matches were squeezed together by the abortive Champion's League. The ODI's were also spread to thin, and shouldn't have run into February. On the domestic front, I have been again appalled by the scheduling, with most first class matches at either end of the season. This has left none in January for players to show their form for the tour of Sth Africa, especially with Test incumbents losing form or fitness and needing replacing. Choosing only on early season form (pre-Christmas) with one game each in late January may have cut out those who are now in the best form. It also left no first class cricket for those not in the One Day team. The obvious culprit is the Big Bash, which went on too long - play more than one game per day. I'm not anti 20/20 (I loved the Bash despite the final result), but it needs to be subordinate.

  • riteshjsr on February 17, 2009, 10:50 GMT

    There seems to be a lot of heartburn among cricket administrators, journalists and so called "purists" across the globe when it comes to IPL. Everyone derided the concept initially (including BCCI), but Modi stuck to his guns and proved to the world how big the event could be. Not only did the event generate a lot of excitement among spectators, but also threw up some great talent. A lot of players got 'discovered' (S Marsh, Y Pathan, D Kulkarni) while a few redeemed their careers (Watson, Raina). It ensured that Indian players playing domestic cricket got to test their skills against the best in the world (A Nayar, S Trivedi, M Gony). What else should a league accomplish?

  • spongebat_squarestumps on February 17, 2009, 10:59 GMT

    jokerbala, vswami & aditya_s9 - you seem to have totally missed the point here. I for one am not against Modi's vision and success in creating the IPL. Far from it - I applaud it's very success. But what I cannot agree with is the manner in which he has achieved it. The IPL has no right in asking overseas country cricket boards to ban their own players from coaching or playing ANY form of cricket within their own country just because they, too have done nothing illegal and simply exercised their professional right to play for a competitive domestic T20 league. This is really a tragedy and it is a indefensible loss to us as spectators and future generations. Jason Gillespie, Shane Bond & co are a product of their own sweat and toil, with the investment of their local clubs, states and country cricket boards. To deny them the chance to continue to work, teach and entertain within their own country is a scandal of the highest order.

  • spongebat_squarestumps on February 17, 2009, 10:59 GMT

    <cont'd> The ICL is not a politically or racially opressive organisation - but merely an economic competitor where the IPL chooses instead to punish it's lawful players. Consider the same applying to Bollywood actors - they come to the UK to appear in a show for a rival BBC TV channel - so the BBC then demand from the Indian Govenment pressures the film studios to ensure that those actors never work (or train ro teach) in Bollywood ever again. I don't know any Indian swear words but I'm sure I'd learn a few from the resonses I'm sure that request would get!

  • IPLFan on February 17, 2009, 11:46 GMT

    "bcci's hypocricy" - what hypocricy? Sure, the players who played in ICL were only exercising their prerogative as professionals. All that the BCCI and various boards are doing is also to exercise their prerogative as private entities. They have a right to decide who they employ and who they don't, and what most sensible businesses do is to not employ someone who is working for your competitor. Where is the hypocricy in that? Where is the question of monopoly. The very fact that ICL, a rebel organization, is functioning shows that BCCI/ICC is not a monopoly.