Why I Love the ICL

Dear Cricket fans,

I am sure all of you are really looking forward to the Indian Professional League starting on April 18. You are probably in the process of making plans to catch all the exciting action – both live and televised. You will probably end up spending decent moolah on the twenty-20 extravaganza.

But before you get wallet-happy remember – every penny that you spend on the IPL, every minute of IPL action that you catch on the TV, every cheer that you raise and every comment that you make on the internet will only go a long way towards making the BCCI an even more inefficient and corrupt body than what it already is.

The money spent on buying anything from a match ticket to a team jersey, a player card or a bottle of water in the stadium will directly or indirectly end up in the secret vaults of the cricket board. The greedy BCCI controls every revenue source in the IPL and it already has ensured a gazillion dollar profit for itself, long before even a ball has been bowled. It owns the TV rights, the sponsorship rights, the media rights and whatever else that could be sold. And all this comes after the franchisees coughed up a hundred million dollars each to swell BCCI’s already over-flowing coffers.

Mr Modi has not yet announced how this massive loot will be spent. Although, when he decides to do so, he will predictably wax rhetoric about developing cricket infrastructure and promoting the game at the grass-roots level. I must ask, why has the BCCI waited for so long to do that? They were loaded with cash long before the IPL happened and till now haven’t done a lot about the cricket infrastructure and promotion of the game in this country. I don’t think they intend to do so even now. The money will simply go where it has been going all this while – into the pockets of the BCCI functionaries and their cronies in the state cricket associations. So, all of you planning to make a huge success of the IPL, remember that you are letting the crooks of the BCCI put their dirty hands in your pockets while you are engrossed in the cricket action.

All over the world, the professional leagues are run independently of the game’s governing body. There is a separate governing body to run basketball in the US and a different one (usually a set of appointed professionals) to manage the affairs of the NBA. For all the good things Mr Modi picked up from the NBA, the EPL and the MLB, he chose to conveniently ignore the need for a separate professional body to manage the IPL. Of course, there is no need for one when you have the eminently capable team of the BCCI. Anyhow, they have enough spare time on their hands to run ten leagues, forget one measly IPL. After all, the job description of a BCCI official is just restricted to attending a hundred selection meetings and counting money. And that is in addition to their day job of being a politician or whatever that gives them enough scope for corruption and inefficiency. The IPL money is their bonus for the terrific job they have done in their multiple roles. Go splurge on the IPL and ensure that all the great men of the BCCI are rewarded sufficiently.

Now that the IPL is here, let us not waste our time following the ICL. After all, it is just a poor country cousin. All the big stars are in the IPL. What does the ICL have? Who cares if the biggest stars for the title-wining Hyderabad Heroes were a forgotten Pakistani and three unknown Indians? We want stars. We don’t have time for the likes of Stuart Binny, Ambati Rayudu and Indra Shekhar Reddy. We are not interested in knowing that these unknown fellas more than managed to hold their own against the best of the international talent in the ICL. Even though we are perplexed as to how is it that they were never in any kind of national reckoning, not even for A tours or challenger trophies, we will not blame the state cricket associations for nepotism. Everyone deserves an equal chance to play. We cannot discriminate on the basis of talent and performance. And anyway, bad selection policies are a small price to pay for the great job the associations have done in electing the members of the BCCI. That the ICL players were so frustrated with the shambolic policies of their state boards, that they didn’t even think twice about joining the rebel league and face an international ban, is a matter that has been blown out of proportion.

We are not bothered about the pathetic state of the domestic game and the good that the ICL has done for domestic players. There is no need to promote the domestic game by making first-class cricket a financially viable career option. A competitive and exciting domestic structure will take some of the attention away from our national stars and probably deprive them of some of their endorsement money. Additionally, it will bring too much media attention on the state selectors and hinder them from doing their jobs well. And having too many good players competing for just eleven places will add to the headache of our poor national selectors. We should not take unfair advantage of the large talent pool we have. After all, we have a larger population and the game is far more popular here. The BCCI is right in banning the ICL and ensuring that we are stuck in mediocrity. All of you ignoring the ICL and supporting the IPL will surely help the BCCI achieve this mission.

Iam a fool and a dreamer. I don’t want the poor BCCI officials to make some extra money on the side. Iam biased against politicians running the game. I yearn for a great domestic structure. I prefer an Indian MNC over a state run PSU. I support the ICL and not the IPL.

If you think you are also a fool like me, then pass it on to other fools that you know

Avnish Anand