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Board of Control for Cricket in India

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Why India shouldn’t try to avoid Pakistan in sporting encounters


Should India take on Pakistan in the international sporting arena?

BCCI boss Anurag Thakur doesn’t believe so.

The BJP leader, while ruling out resumption of cricketing ties with the rogue neighbour after the latest attacks from across the border at Uri, said:

“Keeping in mind that the government has adopted a new strategy to isolate Pakistan and in view of the public sentiment in the country, we request ICC not to put India and Pakistan in the same pool of the multi-nation tournaments. If the two countries reach the semi-finals and have to clash at that time, it is another situation which can’t be avoided.”

The statement above reeks of political opportunism while ignoring commercial considerations and the future success of ICC tournaments.

While it’s no one’s case that Pakistan is a sponsor of terrorism, to ask the ICC or any other sporting body to accommodate the Indian government’s  views would be setting a bad precedent—if accepted.

What happens if Bangladesh or Afghanistan make similar demands? Will the ICC oblige?

What about other sporting events such as the Olympics or World Championships? Are Indian sports persons to refuse to take on Pakistani athletes in group encounters but not in knockout rounds?

Can the US decline to play North Korea or Iran in international competitions?

India last toured their north-west neighbours in a full-fledged series in 2004. The last bilateral series occurred in 2012 with the visitors drawing the T20 series and clinching the ODIs.

India are grouped with Pakistan for the 2017 Champions Trophy.

ICC President Dave Richardson said:

“No doubt we want to try to put India versus Pakistan in our event. Its hugely important from an ICC point of view. Its massive around the world and the fans have come to expect it as well. Its fantastic for the tournament because it gives it a massive kick.”

It’s unlikely that the ICC will oblige Thakur by moving India out of the group. If the BCCI insists on making a political statement in the cricketing world, Team India might have to forfeit their game against their arch-rivals.

The men’s team are the only ones affected. The women’s side are slated to play Pakistan in a bilateral series. Should the tour be called off, their ODI ratings will be affected that may reduce their chances for automatic qualification for next year’s World Cup.

Thakur’s statement was greeted with disdain across the border.

Mohammad Yousuf said:

“I just don’t understand what he wants to say. For the last eight years India has avoided playing us in a proper bilateral series even when relations were better.”

He added:

“The ICC keeps on saying it will not tolerate politics or government interference in member boards and the BCCI President is making political statements. Either he speak as a BJP leader or BCCI head.”

An unnamed Pakistan Cricket Board official said:

“It is an out and out political statement from the President of the BCCI. We are disappointed as we have been trying hard for a long time now to normalize cricket ties with India and we have always believed in keeping sports and politics apart.”

In another news report, sources within the PCB revealed that they do not take Thakur’s tirades seriously.

“If they really don’t want to play Pakistan at all would they be willing to forfeit the match against us in next year’s Champions Trophy. No changes can be made now so what is the purpose of such statements except to play to the galleries.

…But for public consumption he (Thakur) gives different statements.”

Were the UN to declare Pakistan a sponsor of terror and impose sanctions, then it’s possible that sporting bodies across the world could declare it ‘persona non grata’, much like South Africa was for its heinous policy of apartheid.

But until then, it’s downright foolish to expect to be able to avoid Pakistan in multilateral contests.

At the same time, to simply claim that sports and politics shouldn’t mix is being naïve in this age of realpolitik.

Sports is a metaphor for war without weapons or bloodshed. 

It is also  a vehicle for peace such as when the Pakistani premier visited India for the crucial quarter-final encounter during the 2011 World Cup paving the way for resuming cricketing ties even if it was short-lived.

The issue at hand is complex. Simplistic statements from the BCCI chief muddy the waters especially when he must and should know better.

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Why our sporting heroes don’t deserve biopics


Sports biopics are the flavour of the past few years in Bollywood.

But have they really been worth catching on the big screen?

‘Bhaag, Milkha, Bhaag’ was phenomenal.

And ‘Budhia: Born To Run’ with its almost documentary-like yet moving treatment of the young boy from Orissa who languishes in a sports hostel, still banned from running by the state, was worth a dekko.

But you can’t say much about ‘Azhar’ or, for that matter, ‘Sultan’, a fictional wrestler’s story, that enjoyed blockbuster success at the box office.

I haven’t seen ‘Mary Kom‘ but I’m against the very concept of having a Punjabi actress depict a North-Eastern boxing icon.

Gautam Gambhir stirred a hornet’s nest on Twitter with his remarks criticizing the trend of biographical films on cricketers.

He said:

Given that Neeraj Pandey’s ‘MS  Dhoni: The Untold Story‘ was slated for release in the upcoming weeks, many of Dhoni’s fans questioned Gambhir’s intent and timing.

Was the Delhi cricketer taking a potshot at his former skipper? It is no secret that Gambhir could have been in the running for the captain’s post had his stint in the side continued.

James Erskine’s ‘Sachin: A Billion Dreams‘ is also expected to be in theatres in the near future.

I, for one, saw nothing wrong with the left-hander’s statements.

Successful  cricketers are accorded the status of demi-gods in India. Reams of  traditional and online media are dedicated  to telling and retelling the stories of their humble beginnings.

Gambhir is right that we need to focus on real heroes who have devoted their lives to the country whether it be on the battlefield, social service or business.

Yet, sports other than cricket need heroes to follow and for every successful sportsperson, there are countless others who have tried and given their best—participating or coaching.

Wouldn’t you like to know the story of Ramakant Achrekar?

How about Sakshi Malik’s coach Kuldeep Malik who is yet to receive his cash award of Rs. 5 lacs? He has in his possession a photo-copied cheque instead!

Celebrate India’s successful sporting stars? Yes, do. But don’t forget those  who helped them become great and in the process made  this country greater—in all spheres. 

Anil Kumble: Surprise selection as Team India Coach


Edited version of original image depicting pop...

Indian cricketer Anil Kumble. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anil Kumble is the newly appointed  Team India coach.

That must be the most important job in the country after the Prime Minister’s, right?

Wrong, dead wrong.

Sanjay Manjrekar , in his column for The Week, describes the job thus:

“’Tell me, who is this guy with the Indian team, is he a player?’

‘No, he does not step onto the field.’

‘Is he a selector, does he pick the players?’

‘No, he does not, the captain and selectors do that.’

‘Okay, then, does he make the critical game-changing decisions on the field, with regard to bowling changes, field setting, batting order, etc?’

‘Nope, that again is done by the captain.’

There you go, that is the actual reality of an Indian coach and his position within the team. Hence the media excitement, every time, around the appointment of an Indian coach, baffles me.

In contrast, when a far more important and influential position outside the players is filled, it’s only duly noted by the media. That is the chief selector’s position.”

This is not to deride or belittle Anil Kumble’s credentials in any way.

Much has been said and written about his stellar cricketing record, his courage facing the West Indian quicks and his mental strength,

Kumble recognises the above reality and claims that he’ll be more of an ‘elder brother’  to the side.

He said:

“I certainly believe that as a coach of a young team, you need to be hands-on and you need to really get your hands dirty as well – train with them, be a part of their training. And be with them more like an elder brother, in every aspect, not just on the field, but also off it. That’s something I will be focusing on.”

Manjrekar concludes his piece thus:

“In Indian cricket, the captain and a couple of senior players basically chart the destiny of the Indian team. The selectors have an important role to play in this journey. If the captain is able, there is nothing wrong with this kind of culture; many great teams have been built like this.

So what an Indian coach really does is facilitate the needs of the captain and the core group and try and keep them in good spirits.

The coaches that actually make a difference to Indian cricket are those that coached players like Tendulkar, Dravid, and others, when they were kids. The grassroots level coaches.”

Kumble made a three-year-plan presentation to the Cricket Advisory Committee but has been appointed for only a year.

Ravi Shastri’s stint as Team Director and the results under his tutelage paved the way for the selection of an Indian coach.

Can Kumble prove as adept as John Wright or Gary Kirsten in handling this young side?

India play 13 Tests at home and his tenure includes the Champions Trophy.

‘Jumbo’ does not have a long rope and there is speculation that he was not an unanimous choice.

Kumble has no formal coaching experience but then neither had Shastri.

That appears to have made the difference since he was not in the initial shortlist.

The CAC selected Kumble—possibly—because he is a much younger candidate and can keep pace with the youngsters in the side. John Wright and Gary Kirsten were not too long retired when they took over the reins of the Indian side.

A younger person can be more hands-on; Kumble certainly believes he can be.

Is hands-on what the job requires? Depends on how you define it. Kirsten felt that it played an important role while he was coach. He used to spend hours bouncing balls at the senior players. His ability to handle fragile super-egos cannot be underestimated.

Kirsten’s right if we are go by what Manjrekar writes. And he is an expert.

Players like Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli prefer to consult their old coaches on  technical aspects of their skills.

Is it less likely that it’s not the same for the current batch of players? Ajinkya Rahane and Robin Uthappa have retained Pravin Amre as their go-to person for improving their willow skills.

It does appear that what a coach brings to the side is intangible but the results are visible and rewarded or penalised with much more alacrity.

Simply put, the coach is the fall guy should anything go wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

Commentary on Lodha Commission recommendations to BCCI – IX


Chapter Ten: Constitution & Functioning of Members

The Lodha Commission believes that there should be uniformity in how the BCCI and its member associations are structured.

The BCCI is registered as a society. Members are either societies or companies.

English: Four Indian boys playing cricket in t...

Four Indian boys playing cricket in the street with a new tennis ball provided to them. Photo is taken in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Problems:

Membership & Privileges

Member associations do not have uniform rules for membership. Some associations allow clubs and individuals, others only have clubs while the rest have both individuals and patrons.

There exist very few guidelines for admission. Former Indian cricketers are denied membership to these associations.

Promotion of the game is hardly the priority at some associations. Tickets to games are made available to members first reducing the number available to fans substantially.

Associations are housed on premises at stadia constructed on leased premises.

Posts & Tenures

No specified terms for posts and no limits on the number of terms for an administrator are the main problem areas highlighted in this scection.

Voting

Proxy voting has given rise to unscrupulous practices when it comes to holding elections at member associations.

Compliance

Are member associations registered as not-for-profit entities compliant? It does not appear so.

Furthermore, associations registered as societies are less transparent than bodies registered under the Companies Act.

Expenditure & Infrastructure

The exists no or little accountability for the grants for ‘development of cricket’ provided by BCCI to members.  The facilities at stadiums remain abysmal and very few wickets or grounds outside of existing stadium are developed.

Lack of professionalism

There exist no separate layers for governance and management. Accounting systems are maintained on an ad-hoc basis.

Member associations lack vision and drive to generate revenue streams for themselves. They depend largely on the BCCI’s largesse.

Dual posts

The Lodha Commission prefers that when an administrator is elected to the Board, he/she must not be allowed to continue as an administrator at their respective state associations. This would prevent conflict of interest situations arising. National interest must come first.

Interference in selection

Merit is ignored when it comes to selecting players. Influence appears to be the main criteria. States are not fielding or selecting their best available talent.

Transparency

Transparency is lacking.

Constitution, bye-laws, accounts, expenditure, ethics guidelines and player statistics are rarely available or up to date on association websites.


The Lodha Commission states:

“Each State Association will necessarily have a website that carries the following minimum details:

  1. The Constitution, Memorandum of Association and Rules & Regulations, Bye-Laws and Office Orders and directions that govern the functioning of the Association, its Committees, the Ombudsman and the Ethics Officer.
  2. The list of Members of the Association as well as those who are defaulters.
  3. The annual accounts & audited balance sheets and head-wise income and expenditure details.
  4. Details of male, female and differently abled players representing the State at all age groups with their names, ages and detailed playing statistics.
  5. Advertisements and invitations for tenders when the Association is seeking supply of any goods or services (exceeding a minimum prescribed value), or notices regarding recruitment, as also the detailed process for awarding such contracts or making such recruitments.
  6. Details of all goals and milestones for developing cricket in the State along with timelines and the measures undertaken to achieve each of them.
  7. Details of all office bearers and other managerial staff (including CEO, COO, CFO, etc.)
  8. Details of directives from the BCCI and their compliances.

These websites will have to be maintained and updated at least on a quarterly basis. All the above information will have to be maintained at the registered office of the State Association and when sought, the same shall be shared with the applicant on the payment of a reasonable fee, as may be prescribed by the Association.”

The Lodha panel further dictates that the BCCI should encourage State associations to have as many cricketing grounds and fields instead of multiple stadia. This will enable greater usage and access. Existing grounds and facilities should be renovated and converted to turf wickets thus making international standard facilities available at a young age.

Furthermore, existing stadium should be made multi-sport facilities enabling other games such as hockey and tennis to be hosted if necessary.

Commentary on Lodha Commission recommendations to BCCI – IV


Chapter Four: Indian Premier League (IPL)

The Lodha Commission describes the IPL as the BCCI’s ‘cash cow’ and calls it a ‘premier league’ for the very same reasons.

The existing IPL Governing Council consists of twelve members but has no representation from the franchisees; neither does it have any independent members.

The Lodha Panel recommends a committee of nine members “comprising of three ex-officio members (the Secretary, the Treasurer and the CEO of BCCI), two representatives of the members of BCCI to be elected by the General Body, two nominees of the Franchisees, one nominee being the C&AG’s Councillor on the Apex Council and one being a nominee of the Players’ Association. “

Thus four members are independent. Only a General Body elected member can be chairperson. Members from the IPL teams are to be rotated annually and every franchisee has to have a turn on the council.

A panel presided by the Ombudsman and consisting additionally of the Ethics Officer and the CEO will appoint any other Committees/Commissions under IPL regulations.

The Lodha Commission also remarks on how some players who are modest cricketers are paid highly in the IPL while more accomplished cricketers who “don India colours and bring laurels to the nation are remunerated less”.

It adds that the path trodden by Indian cricketers is not in Team India’s best interests pointing out how many international cricketers from other nations have opted out to preserve themselves for national duty.

The Commission also recommends a gap of 15 days between the IPL season and the national cricketing calendar.

 

Chapter Five: Players’ Association & Agent Registration

The Lodha Commission recommends formation of a Player’s Association and a strict set of rules and regulations to govern Players’ Agents.

Almost all Test-playing nations excepting India have cricketers’ associations.

England and Australia have agents’ accreditation schemes.

The national boards and players’ associations administer these systems.

An independent Players’ Association is to be comprised only of retired cricketers.This association will nominate members to the Governing Body and Apex Council.

The BCCI shall fund the association.

The Lodha Commission specifically recommends formation of a Steering Committee of four members who are explicitly named as the following:

  1. Mr.G.K.Pillai, Former Union Home Secretary (Chairperson)
  2. Mr.Mohinder Amarnath, Former National Cricketer
  3. Ms.Diana Edulji, Former National Cricketer
  4. Mr.Anil Kumble, Former National Cricketer

The Steering Committee will “identify and invite all eligible Ex-Cricketers to be members of the Association, to open bank accounts, receive funds from the BCCI, conduct the first elections for office bearers, communicate the names of BCCI player nominees to the Board and take all necessary steps in this regard. “

The players’ association is to be called the Cricket Players Association (CPA).

“Membership of the CPA shall comprise:

  1. Male and female Ex-cricketers, who have played at least one International Cricket Match in any format of the game at the senior level;
  1. Male ex-cricketers, who have played at least Ten First Class Matches in any format of the game at the senior level;
  1. Female ex-cricketers, who have played at least Five First Class Matches in any format of the game at the senior level;
  1. Differently-abled ex-cricketers, who have played either International Cricket or first class cricket in any format of the game at the senior level;”

The Executive Committee will consist of a President, a Secretary, a Treasurer and two Members—at least one a woman; the term of office is two years and members can hold office for a maximum of two terms only.

The Lodha Commission expressed grave concerns about the backgrounds of player agents.

It is up to the player agents to apprise their clients on applicable principles and ethics governing the BCCI, the IPL and the game.

Player agents are also to protect their clients from “any suspicious contact or questionable overtures”.

No person other than a player representing himself/herself or his agent can conduct individual contract negotiations.

The BCCI shall form a committee to regulate registration of Player Agents. It shall consist of  5 members, of which 2 shall be nominees of the Players’ Association and 3 (including the Chairperson) shall be nominees of the BCCI. The registration committee will have the power to discipline Player Agents who violate its notified norms.

A Player Agent has to be a natural person; the Committee cannot certify any company, partnership, corporation, or other artificial legal entity.

An applicant cannot be less than 25 years in age.

The applicant must secure a clearance certificate issued by the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

He should not have a criminal record.

The Committee will be authorised by the agent to conduct a background check.

The maximum agent fee is limited to 2% of the total revenue earned by a player.

Comments:

The formation of the CPA will assist cricketers with their grievances. The existing Indian Professional Cricketers’ Association (IPCA) has never been recognised by the BCCI. Membership in the ICPA is open to all present and past first-class cricketers. The IPCA was formed in September 2002 in response to strictures imposed by the ICC concerning ambush marketing that would have affected Indian cricketers’ commercial interests. A similar cricketers’ association was formed in the seventies with Sunil Gavaskar, Bishan Singh Bedi and S Venkatraghavan prominent office bearers. The The ICPA’s long-term plans include involving players in raising funds for charities, floating a pension fund and an insurance scheme for players and the widows of cricketers and organising benefit matches for them. Arun Lal was the founder-secretary of the IPCA. Kapil Dev was another who formed an Association of Indian Cricketers in 1989. None of these bodies were ever recognised by the BCCI.

The regulation of Player Agents will help in curbing practices such as match-fixing and spot-fixing. It will also add an additional layer of professionalization to the existing cricketing set-up. Young cricketers need to be guided when it comes to choosing sponsorship deals and signing contracts with IPL teams. Experienced cricketers, too, will benefit.

Commentary on Lodha Commission Recommendations to BCCI – III


Chapter Three: Management

The Lodha Commission believes that the BCCI will thrive by having professionals experienced with  large corporations in charge of its daily operations.

Governance and policy direction are to be kept separate from the execution of the body’s vision.

This multiple-tiered hierarchy is on lines with what exists in the Football Association (FA) of the United Kingdom, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the Federation Internationale de Hockey sur Gazon (FIH), MLB, NBA and NFL respectively.

The BCCI and its members are to be run professionally.

Non-cricketing management will be led by a CEO and his team.

Cricketing matters such as selection, coaching and performance evaluation will be left to the ex-players.

Umpiring will be handled exclusively by umpires.

The Cricket and Umpires committees will report to the Apex Council.

The CEO will be assisted by two advisory committees the Tours, Fixtures & Technical Committee and the Tournaments Committee.

The CEO too will be accountable to the Apex Council.

A maximum of six managers will aid the CEO in the following matters: Operations, Finance, Technical, Compliance (legal), Human Resources and Media.

The CEO will be contracted for a tenure of five years to the BCCI while the managers will be regular employees.

Seven cricket committees will deal with selection, coaching, performance evaluation and talent resource development of Men, Women, Junior, Zonal and Differently-Abled teams. They will consist only of former players and report directly to the Apex Council.

The selection committee will no longer be zonal in nature and would consist of just three members.

Currently existing committees such as ‘Vizzy Trophy Committee’, ‘the TV Production Committee’, ‘the Ground & Pitches Committee’, ‘the Museum Committee’ and

‘Cricket Advisory Committee’ are to be abolished.

Two standing committees namely the Senior Tournaments Committee, and the Tours, Fixtures & Technical Committee are retained to give guidance to the new CEO and his team.

Comments:

The professionalization of the BCCI is to be welcomed. The BCCI can no longer be run in an ad-hoc fashion given it is the richest sporting body in the country and within the ICC. The BCCI’s functioning needs to be streamlined and be more in line with modern organisations. Ex-players are well-qualified to take care of cricketing matters and the umpires will enjoy autonomy with regards to decisions on their profession.

The five-man selection committee is a relic of the division of the country into five zones. In this modern age, three selectors will be more than enough to select a team of 16 players and 30 probables given that there is no longer the need for them to traverse the length and breadth of the nation. They can catch up on Ranji and other national tournaments via television and video recordings.

The CEO’s term is limited to five years thus making him accountable for the BCCI’s performance during his tenure. Career professionals too may find the BCCI a practical proposition for employment in their respective fields.

The creation of committees for women and differently-abled implies that the BCCI has been given a mandate to be more inclusive in its policies to the less privileged sections of the sport.

The separation of governance and policy from the daily running of the BCCI mirrors the best practices of corporate governance in large corporations.

Lodha Committee suggested reforms turns up the heat on BCCI bigwigs


English: Ranji Trophy

Ranji Trophy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Will the Mumbai Cricket Association, Maharashtra Cricket Association and Vidarbha Cricket Association be merged into one state body?

That’s the loaded question the BCCI hopes to discover answers to when the Lodha Committee  make a fresh set of recommendations on January 4 next year.

It is believed that the committee is keen on reducing over-representation from Maharashtra and Gujarat in the BCCI.

Gujarat has three Ranji associations too: Saurashtra Cricket Association, Baroda Cricket Association and Gujarat Cricket Association.

Andhra Pradesh has two but Hyderabad could be assimilated into the new state of Telengana.

These reforms could deal a body blow to Mumbai cricket and its rich traditions.

Mumbai have 40 Ranji victories to their credit in the tourney’s multi-storied history.

The record books indicate 16 Irani Cup, two Vijay Hazare Trophy, five Wills Trophy, and a single Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

CCI Mumbai - Main entrance: lobby of the club ...

CCI Mumbai – Main entrance: lobby of the club house with replica of original Ranji Trophy as centerpiece. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Mumbai cricket team was formed under the Bombay Presidency and continued as part of the Bombay province until independence in 1947 when Bombay became Bombay state.

The formation of Maharashtra led to the assimilation of the city into its boundaries and it was made its capital.

Bombay continued as a separate Ranji team and continues to compete separately from Maharashtra state.

The Vidarbha cricket team was founded in 1957.

The Maharashtra cricket team has two Ranji trophy wins to its credit coming in 1939/40 and 1940/41.

Saurashtra are another side that have clinched the national title winning in 1936-37 and were also runners up in the very next season of 1937-38.

Baroda are five-time victors: 2000-01, 1957-58, 1949-50,  1946-47, and 1942-43.

They were established in 1930.

The Gujarat Cricket Association were founded in 1950.

There are 27 teams in the Ranji set-up.

19 State teams are currently participating in the tournament.

The Lodha Committee may also consider disallowing BCCI officials from holding positions in their state bodies.

This is purportedly to prevent a conflict of interest.

The implementation of this would be interesting—to put it mildly.

The ICC too functions like the BCCI with national cricket association heads elected to the ICC executive.

Similarly, the FIFA executive functions by appointing members from its respective confederations:

  • CONMEBOL: one vice-president and two members
  • AFC: one vice-president and three members
  • UEFA: two vice-presidents and five members
  • CAF: one vice-president and three members
  • CONCACAF: one vice-president and two members
  • OFC: one vice-president

What the Lodha Committee suggests is that the BCCI should function like the United Nations with country representatives differing from national heads.

This could be workable only if there are sufficiently experienced administrators available to be elected both at the state and national level.

Is that the case?

Is this an attempt to create more positions and thus more opportunities for both experienced and budding sports administrators within the annals of power within the BCCI and its member associations? That surely is not the mandate of the Lodha committee.

This could also be an ‘insidious’ attempt to bring the BCCI under the purview of the proposed Sports Bill which does not envisage more than three terms for an individual at the helm of any National Sports Federation with a cooling off period after two terms. Presidents are exempted from the cooling off period.

Office bearers are also to retire at 70.

The proposed Sports Bill (in 2013) sought to make the BCCI accountable to the general public by making it liable to respond to Right To Information (RTI) applications about its functioning.

Indranil Basu , reporting for CricBuzz, writes:

“The general belief within the BCCI is that the acumen and experience gained from being part of the board helps the administrators run their state bodies better. It is also believed that staying in the loop would only help streamline the system.

Drawing a parallel with the country’s political system, the board members said that it would create a situation where the ministers serving the government would not be allowed to be a part of the Parliament or legislative bodies. It simply can’t work. Today the board has an asset worth Rs 10,000 crore. In the last six years, the board has paid Rs 100 crore as income tax and gets the country around Rs 400 crore worth of foreign exchange every year. When India won the first World Cup in 1983, the board didn’t have Rs 2 lakh to honour its world champions. We are a professional body and deserve that respect, the official said.”

The most ‘damaging’ reform suggested may be the one that would prevent industrialists and politicians from participating in BCCI politics.

That would really set the cat among the pigeons.

Innovative BCCI may ‘reverse auction’ interim IPL franchises: Not yet sold


Chennai Super Kings

Chennai Super Kings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The BCCI can be creative.

They’re also very intent on playing it safe.

For some reason, they do not intend to let Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) suffer when they return from their suspension in 2018.

The country’s premier cricketing body have decided to float two fresh teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL) but only for two years.

The new franchises will not find it easy to be profitable within those two years. It is definitely not a sustainable proposition for them.

Hence the BCCI, in all its wisdom, have decided that ‘Reverse Bidding’  is a distinct possibility that could be offered to its new suitors.

Panoramic View of the Stadium during IPL 2008

Panoramic View of the Stadium during IPL 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A senior BCCI office-bearer said:

“If there is lack of interest in conventional bidding because of this two-year span, there is a possibility of reverse bidding that can happen where in an investor, who bids the lowest amount will be owner of a team. For example, if BCCI plans to pump in Rs. 70 crore, it might be the potential investor can buy bidding at Rs. 50 crore, Rs. 40 crore or Rs. 30 crore depending on the lowest.”

Players from the suspended franchises would be made available in the auction pool.

Rajasthan Royals

Rajasthan Royals (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The BCCI is keeping its cards close to its chest.

When queried whether there would be a 10-team league from 2018, the official replied:

“Look, our contracts with all the sponsors and the official broadcasters ends after the 2017 edition. Post that, we will start with a clean slate and all players would go back to auction.”

Investopedia defines a ‘Reverse Auction’  thus:

“A type of auction in which sellers bid for the prices at which they are willing to sell their goods and services. In a regular auction, a seller puts up an item and buyers place bids until the close of the auction, at which time the item goes to the highest bidder. In a reverse auction, the buyer puts up a request for a required good or service. Sellers then place bids for the amount they are willing to be paid for the good or service, and at the end of the auction the seller with the lowest amount wins.

Reverse auctions gained popularity with the emergence of Internet-based online auction tools. Today, reverse auctions are used by large corporations to purchase raw materials, supplies and services like accounting and customer service.
It is important to note that reverse auction does not work for every good or service. Goods and services that can be provided by only a few sellers cannot be acquired by reverse auction. In other words, reverse auction works only when there are many sellers who offer similar goods and services.”

The BCCI does not believe that its two year revenue model is sufficiently attractive to any prospective parties.

The reverse auction indicates that the BCCI is willing to subsidise some of the costs that will be incurred by the franchises; the auction is an attempt to minimise the BCCI’s losses.

This is not substantially different from one of the suggestions floated earlier that the BCCI manage the suspended franchises for the said period. The difference here is that two new teams will be floated but they will be allowed to choose any other cities not allocated to the other six sides including Chennai and Jaipur.

This is probably a response to the newly drafted conflict of interest rules to be tabled at the AGM.

The interim solution allows CSK and RR to pick up the core of their current set of players when they return to the IPL fold in 2018.

(N Srinivasan, the BCCI gods still shine bright for you.)

A base price will be set for potential buyers of the interim franchises.

K Shriniwas Rao explains:

“If the BCCI, for example, sets the base price of the franchise at Rs 100, bidders will be allowed to quote an amount lesser than Rs 100. The lowest bidder will be given the franchise. BCCI will pay the winning party the bid amount that will partly cover for the franchise’s operational costs heading into the tournament.

The bidder can also quote a figure running into negative. For instance, if the bidder quotes a figure of Rs -10 or Rs -5, he she will have to pay that (negative) amount to BCCI. The board expects potential bidders to like this idea if they have a specific two-year marketing or branding initiative in mind for which they won’t mind spending from their pockets.

The interim franchises will not receive a share of the central revenue pool unlike the other six existing teams but will be eligible for a substantial amount in terms of prize money (for players) and additional performance-based incentives from the central revenue pool if they make it to the top-four in the tournament.

In turn, these interim franchises can earn from local revenue pools – ­ gate money, sponsorships, merchandising and hospitality management ­ – to further cover their operational costs. The 50-odd players from CSK and RR, who’ll be up for sale at the auction, will first be part of a draft for the new franchises to retain. The number of players that could be allowed for retention through draft hasn’t been finalised yet. After the draft, once all franchises are on a level playing field, an auction will take place for the remaining players.”

As highlighted above, negative bidding is a possibility but unlikely. IPL teams have struggled to be in the black right from the start until now and it’s improbable that any franchise can turn a profit in just under two years.

Reverse auctions have been used in India before notably while awarding Coal India’s captive coal blocks to power producers.

These type of auctions are also preferred by corporate purchasing managers using them to procure paper clips to employee health care plans.

Procurement professionals love them; suppliers hate them.

Max Chafkin writes:

“Despite the fact that bids are generally ranked by price, reverse auctions are not binding for the buyer. Companies will sometimes go with the second- or third-lowest bid based on qualitative factors such as reliability, customer service, and the cost of switching away from an incumbent supplier.”

He adds:

“If, for instance, you know you’re bidding against a low-margin supplier with a history of quality problems, you may chose to aim for second place because the purchaser is apt to shy away from your opponent. If you’re bidding against a supplier that already has the account, assume that you’ll have to beat the supplier substantially on price to offset the cost to the customer of switching vendors.”

What this implies is that should the BCCI opt for this model, it is not bound to choose the least two costly bids. Other factors such as business plan,revenue model, finances, and reputation in the market would also have to be considered.

The die is set. May the blacker ink win.

Blame game has a fresh target—curator Sudhir Naik


Blame the pitch, blame the curator, blame your bowlers, blame your batsmen, blame your running between wickets, blame your fielders but never ever, ever blame the opposition for out-batting, out-bowling and out-playing your side through the most part of the series.

Ravi Shastri, former Indian cricketer. 4 Test ...

Ravi Shastri, former Indian cricketer. 4 Test series vs Australia at Adelaide Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ravi Shastri allegedly had harsh words for Sudhir Naik, the Wankhede curator.

He expressed his displeasure after the South Africans posted a mammoth total on a benign wicket all but wrapping up the series before the Indians came out to bat.

His behaviour is to be deplored.

Curators are responsible for preparing pitches keeping in mind soil and weather conditions.

Indian skippers and support staff seem to believe that they ought to always be given the extra edge, not by taking scheduling and conditions into account, but based on how they have fared in the series up to that point.

Naik claims that he was told to prepare a turning wicket just two days before the game—an impossibility.

It is time that Indian team management admitted that they are no longer bully boys on sub-continental wickets given that their South African, Australian, English and Kiwi counterparts are now accustomed both to the heat and the batting conditions courtesy the IPL.

They would be better off choosing the best bowlers for all conditions rather than ‘horses for courses’.

The BCCI should also spell out specific guidelines in their newly drafted conflict of interest rules that would prevent such a situation recurring in the future.

Curators’ decisions must be independent of the Indian team’s vagaries and fortunes.

Therein lies the best interests of Indian cricket.

The question then is: Are these the best players in the country at the moment? If not, where are the ones who deserve to be in the side? Why have they been overlooked?

Gautam Gambhir and Manoj Tiwary slug it out via the media (Updated)


Gautam Gambhir at Adelaide Oval

Gautam Gambhir at Adelaide Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When two former India players almost come to blows on the cricket field with the choicest words exchanged, it makes for headline news.

When the two in question, Gautam Gambhir and Manoj Tiwary, have an acrimonious history, it makes for even greater sensationalism.

Tiwary was dropped by his erstwhile Kolkata Knight Riders colleague and skipper during the 2013 IPL wherein he immediately tweeted that it was the worst day of his life. The offending tweet was later deleted with the current Bengal captain claiming that his account had been hacked.

Tiwary now turns out for Delhi Daredevils.

Manoj Tiwary at Adelaide Oval

Manoj Tiwary at Adelaide Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last Saturday, the two were once more involved in a public fracas during a Ranji trophy game between Delhi and Bengal at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground.

The incident occurred in the eighth over when Tiwary signaled for his helmet.

The Delhi players were incensed believing it to be a time-wasting tactic.

Manan Sharma, the bowler at the time, had something to say to the Bengal skipper.

Gambhir entered the fray abusing Tiwary who retaliated in kind.

That was when Gambhir calling upon his best Hindi film dialogues said:

“Shaam ko mil tujhe maroonga (Meet me in the evening, I will hit you).”

Tiwary, evidently another Hindi film buff, responded:

“Shaam kya abhi bahar chal (Why wait till evening, let’s go out and settle it now).”

Tempers were raised further with Gambhir charging towards the batsman with umpire Krishnaraj Srinath intervening only to be pushed away by the pugnacious left-hander.

The players were later summoned by match referee Valmik Buch.

Tiwary said:

“I have huge respect for Gambhir for whatever he has done for the country. But today, he crossed all limits by making some personal comments. I was really shocked to hear that. I did not start it at all.”

Gambhir, too,  issued a statement:

“At no point did I threaten or push any on-field umpires. Nor did I threaten to beat Manoj up. In fact, I attended match referee’s hearing post the day’s play where he accepted that he doesn’t have any video evidence of me pushing the umpire. On the contrary, the match referee conceded he had video evidence where Manoj is seen pushing Pradeep Sangwan.”

Buch fined Gambhir 70% of his match fee and Tiwary, 40%.

Tiwari added:

“Obviously they were pressurising me but that does not mean he has the right to abuse me. What I said, sledging in a competitive way is good but you don’t have to sledge taking your father or mother’s name. You don’t want to cross line when you play competitive game.

I spoke to him [Ganguly] and told him about the whole incident. He was very upset because, somewhere his name was also raised.”

Tiwary also took to Twitter—obviously— to proclaim his side of the story.

The Bengal skipper has since upped the ante claiming that Gambhir made racist (read parochial) remarks against Sourav Ganguly and Bengalis, in particular.

He said:

“He made racist remarks about Sourav Ganguly and Bengalis. I spoke to Sourav Ganguly and he is very upset that his name has been dragged in the matter. We will never accept anything against Sourav Ganguly.”

He added:

“Gautam Gambhir is not saying the truth. If I had done what Gambhir is saying why have I been fined 40 percent and him 70 percent.”

Gambhir may be facing a ban because he shoved aside the umpire Srinath. Cricket is a non-contact sport and simply touching an umpire physically invites censure.

The Delhi skipper released another statement defending himself from Tiwary’s latest allegations.

He wrote:

“On Sunday, Manoj Tiwary stooped to a new low by claiming that I made racist remarks about Bengali community and my favourite India captain and one of the best cricketers I have played under Mr Sourav Ganguly whom I fondly call Dada. Let me categorically state here that these allegations are baseless and Tiwary’s way of sensationalising things through his figment of imagination.

First of all I am a proud Indian who respects all religions, communities and sexes. Then, ever since I have had the honour of leading Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL I have been humbled by the love and affection showered on my team and me by Bengali community. I have said in numerous interviews that Bengal is my second home and the support of the fans is the biggest X factor for KKR. I can’t thank them enough for helping us win IPL title twice.”

On Ganguly:

“Dada taught Indian cricket to play aggressive brand of cricket and modelled the team to win outside India. His contribution to Indian cricket is unparalleled. Personally, I made my India debut under Dada’s leadership and can never forget the way he eased me into the team dressing room. Besides, I have picked up a lot of things from Dada’s leadership ways and put them in practise for KKR. It is unfortunate that Dada’s name was dragged in by Tiwary perhaps to gain cheap publicity.”

The media is always seeking sound bytes aside from the mandatory tweeted reactions from fans and websites.

Bishan Singh Bedi promptly obliged.

The inimitable Sardar said:

“This is a direct result of the IPL because of the competitive nature that tournament lends itself to for these so-called professionals.

I feel sick. I watched the TV report and this is absolutely shameful. There’s too much of this ‘giving it back’ attitude. All this while it was about giving it back to foreign teams. Now, this syndrome is creeping into the Indian scene. Give back something sane, not insane. And give back something good to the game that has made you professionals.”

He added:

“Look, fines are like loose change for these cricketers. You’ve got to ban them for a few games and hit them where it hurts. The ball is entirely in BCCI’s court.
They need to take to drastic steps to ensure such incidents are not repeated. This is awful for the game of cricket. Erring players must be put on the mat. They call themselves professionals. Does professionalism entail such behaviour? We have been too lenient with our big names. This is not the first time Gambhir is involved in controversy like this.”

There may be a bright side to this whole skirmish.

Just when interest in the domestic game is dying out, the passion exhibited by these senior cricketers simply proves the competitiveness of their nature and the intensity of rivalry at the state level.

There is hope yet and fears of spot or match fixing may be ungrounded in these games. (We hope).

That, of course, is not the point readers and young cricketers wish to take away from the sorry episode.

Shyama Dasgupta, in the Economic Times, writes:

“Firstly, about the attitude of the star players–internationals-towards the other players. A `big’ player will usually play domestic fixtures either because there are no assignments or because he has been dropped. It’s one thing for someone who has played just a game or two for India, but for someone to have played at the highest level with some distinction, the step down is a tough one.

They often expect, and get, star treatment from their state associations and from everyone else. It can get quite feudal, says a former cricketer. Another, also a commentator, uses the word aukaat. Worth. To mean that the stars don’t think of players junior to them as being worthy of being peers. Except, that is exactly what they are: members of the same team, playing at the same level.

Then, about the attitude of star players towards umpires and vice versa. Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of stories of bullying and of being bullied.

A senior colleague had once told me about a veteran international umpire who gave tailenders in the domestic circuit out if there was even a whiff of an appeal-what, you are going to score 100 runs or what, he is known to have told an upstart of a No 11 when there was a protest. It’s fair to assume this No 11 wasn’t an international or a former international. Sure, there are umpires who don’t back down in the face of bullying, but there are likely as many who can’t.

These things, the cricketers I spoke to agreed, just haven’t changed. Two of them–former internationals–admitted to having done the same thing in their playing days as well.”

Cricket is termed a gentleman’s game but the only true gentlemen on the field are probably the umpires.

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