The termination of the Kochi franchise from the IPL is a blow for the growth of cricket in Kerala, as well as the economic development of the state, Shashi Tharoor, the former minister of state for external affairs, who played a vital role in organising the bid for the team, has said.
"That investors from Gujarat and Maharashtra were persuaded to team up to bring their venture to Kerala was, to my mind, proof that Kerala too could attract outsiders to invest in our future," Tharoor said. "Sadly, of course, those outsiders have let the state down by defaulting on their obligations to the BCCI."
The BCCI axed the Kochi franchise at its annual general meeting in Mumbai on September 19 citing an "irremediable breach" of contract. The board said the franchise had failed to furnish a new bank guarantee for 2011. The termination was the latest in a series of problems that have dogged the franchise since its inception, when a controversy over its ownership pattern led to Tharoor resigning from his post in India's cabinet.
"As a member of parliament from the state, I was acutely aware that Keralites simply did not believe we could compete with the major cities of India to attract big-ticket investment and high-value enterprises to our state. That's why the establishment of a Kerala IPL team was all the more significant and important for the people of this tourist-friendly state, long languishing in the backwaters of Indian cricket's shores.
"Kerala has been marginal to Indian cricket - habitual wooden-spooners in the Ranji Trophy Plate League. Where does it fit in to the grand narrative of Indian cricket? It was a footnote at best.
"I saw Kochi Tuskers Kerala as a venture that would not just boost the prospects of Kerala's cricketers, but spark the imaginations of our young people and open new vistas for businesses, as well as promote a new surge of cricket-related tourism."
The owners of the Kochi franchise, whom Tharoor said he had "no role in choosing, merely in steering to Kerala", said that they would fight to keep the franchise and even take legal action if necessary. The new BCCI president N Srinivasan, however, had said there was no way back for them.