Commercialization of the Cricketing Industry

The success of IPL has greatly churned the socio-economic-politics of major cricketing boards around the world including Australia’s, Pakistan’s and smaller ones like WICB and NZCB either in formulating their own leagues in parallel with IPL model-where cross-national cricketing squads fight for a coherent goal, as in the case of ECB’s forthcoming T20 EPL that is set to take off in June 2010, or in raising doubts over the accountability impacts of IPL on the future of ODIs and tests.


Sporting professionals and experts widely agree that the plausibility of IPL generic model is only partially faithful to cricket. They venture into possibilities that could foster a mass exodus of international and domestic players towards this round robin tournament’s huge salary caps and a monumental fan base besides concerning over plethora of other league related unprincipled controversies and unethical issues, that dilutes the image the game has build in the last 50 years of its exquisite history. For instance, the issues of racism have never been a part of cricket as it happened in the case of IPL, when cheer leaders Ellesha Newton and Sherinne Anderson, from London and of African ancestry alleged, after being called to leave the ground at Mohali, that an employee of Wizcraft International Entertainment referred to them with the racial slur ″nigger″. Another episode in an initial match when Washington red skins obscene presentations lavishingly instituted the colligate of women’s ‘beach volley ball’ into the game of pure black and whit side-screen, was also strongly protested by politicians and feminists alike.


Indian IPL inspires major international cricket boards that hope to consecrate IPL as a new cricketing theory where youngsters undergo greater learning and improve their game professionalism while rubbing off shoulders and sharing their dressing rooms with legendary figures like Glenn Macgrath, Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Mutthaiya Muralidharan, Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid etc. But the Boards under-regard the notion that a player’s endurance is best judged in Tests and not in T20s or even ODIs. T20’s a game that inherits winning temperament, could help you play big shots but would never help you play a serious game for a long time.


Most analysts agree that IPL spell doom for test and ODIs if it’s given a regular place in the cricketing calendar. These two can’t coexist together. The alluring benefits that IPL bestows upon its players with is enough a factor to turn most players towards a serious thinking for IPL. Players are leaving their original cricketing platter, whether international or domestic like the ICL in case of former Mumbai opener Shihir Hattangadi, to become a part of the IPL.


BCCI previously have banned all players who have joined the rival ICL league like in the case of Kapil Dev. When asked how Hattangadi managed to cross the rule, they defended themselves by saying that he has obtained a ‘No objection certificate’ from the BCCI earlier. The question of ODI insecurity in the mind of ICC perhaps hold a little significance to BCCI who themselves requested ICC to grant an excuse from international tours for signed players if they are playing for IPL matches. Had they not meant that domestic game is more important than representing a country outside?, there would have been no fear of England’s losing its players to such short leagues.
Positively, it could be a good way to introduce people to cricket, in countries where its prospects are too few, like in US or China. But in test countries like India and England, where cricket holds its nerve stronger in stadiums and off the grounds, it could be a slow suicidal experiment for existing cricket standards including Ranji.


No doubt that IPLs revealed India’s tremendous cricketing bench strength from far off and unacknowledged states by showing off that inexperienced youth can turn more tides than their much experienced counterparts like Ganguly and Sachin, a fact proven earlier by Commonwealth bank series in Australia also. But ironically, one has paid little attention towards the very genesis of IPL that commercializes the cricketing sportsmanship and may deliberately fuse into players, wrong morals of a right game.


IPL, however, may not jeopardize with the future of Test, that command a special respect in the sense that it decides ODI players and is a defacto constitution to start a cricketing career, but can have gradual implications on the fate of ODIs that is seen only as a game of scores and higher run rates and that’s where IPL offers more than ODIs.
Shortened IPL of 3 hours surely seems to be an instant gratification for the younger pulse for whom a wait of a complete day to witness a team’s fate in ODIs was more a wait than a surprise.


The Industry standard HR model serves as IPL’s hiring model together with the potent condiment of the Blue ocean strategy model that serves as IPL’s process model. No surprise that such an astronomical sum of money is a historic debut for any Indian game and splendidly makes IPL stand as a true $2billion IPO in marketing sense. Blue ocean strategy is a phenomenon of adding or enhancing certain attributes in an industry so as to provide more value to the consumer and hence attract more consumers even from outside the boundaries of the traditional industry. The T20 was actually a combination of 3 industries i.e. cricket, cinema, and the corporate world.


While the embodiment of business model into cricket injects a greater sense of individual responsibility among the players and expect that they are answerable to every penny spent as team personnel.


Cricket has never been so adventurous and odd-experimenting. Never was seen such a field inflammation from a fan base as when the lowest bidded squad with traditional Rajasthani logo supplied in an orange and blue background owned by A.R Jha, Lachlan Murdoch, Suresh Chellaram of Emerging Media, finally lifted up the trophy against Chennai super kings and clearing off all the adrenalin and nation wide surprises.


The inaugural 44 day extravaganza, that started on 18 April with 59 late afternoon matches consisting of eight franchises of 16 men squads each and ended June 1, 08 surpassed everything that was expected from such a cricketing essay.


IPL truly signifies more than success in foregrounding India’s takeover of international cricket, to what was a game of spectators and a few match fixers has become a league that augments the game with new rules of revenue generation in domestic market-a factor eagle-eyed by most Indian economists and hooked upon many global analysts.


It could be easy now to search sponsors if we were to increase the number of Olympic contestants or to raise funds to uplift the sad plight of neglected sports like women’s hockey and table tennis or to build infrastructure for popular games like squash and rugby football.


Besides this, IPL’s combination with franchises has flooded minds of decision makers, analysts and investors about revolutionizing the structure of the game at the grass root level so that people from the lower strata also can build a more optimistic picture of the game, not only in terms of the revenue, but in terms of cricket as a possibly safe career option.


Although the net worth of IPL’s richest squad of 230 million is puny as compared to top US baseball team from which IPL essentially inherits its execution model, the inspiration and experimental success stands a record as far as Indian sporting history is considered. While media wildly speculate IPLs and the likes impact on the macrocosm of ODI and Tests the world over, the questions of how this model can be put to function with normal cricketing calendar and whether this queer and more than a successful cricketing experiment, that offers all cricketing surprises in just a three hours of span, be able to give cricket a place in a 15-16 day Olympics, are some of the hardcore issues that that top policy makers of sporting diligence and economists alike are finding hard to figure out.


Truly, IPLs unimagined success of its debut version takes command of every cricket pious nerve in the nation including eager potential market investors like Ambani’s and Sahara who have have already queued up the space for the next play.


With the recent attacks on Sri Lanka cricket players in Pakistan and the upcoming general elections, the IPL is bound to see greater security and a change of schedule. Let us see if it can duplicate the success of its launch.


Amit Nigam

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