Lalit Modi Falls

The Modi Express has derailed as expected, following its off the track behavior in the past two-three weeks. Though the high profile IPL Chairman and Commissioner, held his willpower together till the last minute, it was very clear that he himself expected things to end like this – at least since the past one week.

Money, Power and what else?

When Lalit Modi announced his ambitious IPL plans, it was clear that the business man in him spotted the right business opportunity around the religion called cricket. In India, regardless of whether you are poor or rich, educated or uneducated, Hindu or Muslim, cricket will sell anytime. And Modi’s intentions were good as long as he wasn’t greedy and power-hungry.

From the very beginning, I have maintained in this blog that the IPL has several unethical aspects around it that Lalit Modi and BCCI was trying to tap into. The public money was being looted to make money for the cricketers, franchises and some of the governing bodies (modies?) without giving back anything to the game of cricket or the millions of poor people in this country via some kind of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). It was all about money making and they sold every possible ad slot, every possible sponsorship opportunities, negotiated and renegotiated telecast rights and what have you? On top of that, Mr. Modi (and certain big shots in Indian Politics) seem to have got facilitation perks for each and everything they did – All at the expense of the public.

Is BCCI clean?

From what it looks to me, Modi must be having solid proofs against some of the big shots and he may be waiting for the opportunity to pull down even the central ministry and not just the BCCI. I am sure, BCCI and the IPL Governing council were aware of all that Modi has been doing and probably even they themselves are beneficiaries of the game. Though, I am not in favor of privatising cricket in India, I strongly believe that it’s time to clean up the system and BCCI is run by cricket professionals (with good organization skills) rather than age-old politicians.

The Twitter mess

It all started with a little tweet from Mr.Modi that initially caused the central government to loose one of its capable young ministers. Now, it came back on him like a boomerang to knock him down.

Let God save our Cricket!

Lalit Modi takes on Shashi Tharoor and Kochi IPL Franchise

The IPL Chairman Lalit Modi has sparked a new controversy yesterday when he tweeted the details of the share holding pattern of Kochi Rendezvous Sports and even making some personal remarks against some of the beneficiaries of franchise’s share sale.

In an attempt to take on Mr. Shashi Tharoor, who was behind the successful bid of the Kochi franchise, Mr. Modi has crossed his limits and even talked about one Ms. Sunanda Pushkar who has received 18% free shares of the franchise. Mr. Modi is questioning why he was told to keep mum about the deal. In the meantime, the Kochi Franchise has voiced their disappointment to BCCI which seems to have warned Modi on his public remarks.

The big political game!

IPL is a lot more than cricket and entertainment as a billion Indians believe. It’s about power and politics. A lot of franchise owners are from the entertainment industry and bollywood but most of them are financial powerhouses who have certain political inclination. Mr Modi himself is a strong BJP pro and it’s quite natural that he wanted to take the new franchise to Ahmedabad which wasn’t quite successful. Mr Modi, after loosing the Rajasthan Cricket Association elections last year, did his very best to damage the RCA because the political power situation in Rajasthan changed in favor of Congress since last two years. His attempt to take on Mr.Shashi Tharoor, an MP from the Congress party, is no brainer but dirty politics that is also fueled by his inability to help another Modi in Gujarat with a new IPL franchise.

Modi had earlier made rules such as business houses with 1 billion net worth will only be allowed bid for franchise. This was an attempt to chuck out smaller players. And this is the very reason why a consortium had to bid for Kochi Franchise and airing a piece of his mind against the same is no business ethics.

Is Lalit Modi clean?

Well, he has received a celebrity image in the last three years. He’s also the highest individual tax payer in the country for the year 2010 who might have been the beneficiary of certain franchise deals in the past and even contracts of various entities with IPL. In the case of the Kochi franchise, probably he was helpless and hence want to unsettle the deal. Or is it like he is jealous of the franchise’s and owners’ ability to play with big bucks?

Regardless of that, it’s a shame on him to talk about Ms. Sunanda Pushkar’s private life and friendship with Mr. Tharoor. Even if Mr Tharoor is one of the beneficiaries of the deal, is it Modi’s business at all? And by making public comments about the whole thing he has made a bigger fool of himself. Overall, what lies ahead of hims is not a bright future as he cannot hold on to the IPL Chairman post for too long.

Anyhow, my opinion still is that BCCI and IPL together will kill the game by making it a business rather than sports. And while IPL is becoming more and more successful, the game is not given focus but politics (national and international) is taking over!

Here is my All-Star IPL Team!

With the IPL fever catching on, I thought of writing this little post on what I consider as the perfect IPL Twenty 20 team! Please feel free to suggest your 11 member team as comments below.

IPL all star eleven

Please note that, I have picked only those players who are available to play in this edition (IPL 3) of the Indian Premier League.

My IPL Eleven

Matthew Hayden
David Warner
Ravi Bopara
Sachin Tendulkar
Jaques Kallis
MS Dhoni (Wicket Keeper)
Andrew Symonds
Chaminda Vaas
Anil Kumble (Captain)
Lasith Malinga
Muthaiah Muralitharan
Harbhajan Singh (12th man)

I did not pick the likes of Kieren Pollard, Kumar Sangakkara, Dilshan, Dwyane Bravo etc due to the lack of form. Also not considered is technically poor hard-hitters like Yusuf Pathan, Robin Uthappa etc. My bowling team consists of more spinners and medium-slow bowlers rather than express fast bowlers who can’t do much on the Indian wickets. I have tried to pick people who are more or less consistently performing and are great team players! Jack Kallis, Andrew Symonds and Ravi Bopara are the picks when it comes to the allrounders! Virender Sehwag, Chris Gayles and Adam Gillchrist do not find a place as well in the role of openers due to inconsistent and unpredictable form. I felt that Hayden and Warner will further improve with more number of games in the opener role. Symonds’ inclusion is debatable but the only other option probably was Suresh Raina. Overall, my team looks like a bunch of veterans but unfortunately IPL 3 has been all about the vintage class on display and most youngsters have been pathetic and inconsistent throughout!

Now, what’s your IPL Eleven? I am curious about the permutations and combinations that you may come up with! Please leave your comments.

IPL is getting better

This edition of IPL is probably the best so far. Not that I have changed my past opinions on IPL. I still firmly believe that the event needs to be shortened further – something like 3-4 weeks in duration max.

What’s going good in IPL 3?

The most important thing is that the BCCI has done something about the pitches and infrastructure. The very first edition of IPL was done in completely dead and dirty pitches that was used for the entire season. For this edition, however, many pitches were laid new and the supporting infrastructure such as stadiums, fresh grass on the grounds (probably except Bangalore) etc were taking care of.

What is also good is the fact that, despite many cricketers from Pakistan and England missing, the overall enthusiasm is still getting better!

The money that keeps pouring in is another important aspect. I hear that for a ten seconds ad slot on TV, the prices are as high as 5 lakhs!

What could be better?

As I suggested earlier, the duration of the whole event needs to be cut big time. Since they are adding two new IPL teams next year, they cannot afford to play two matches each per a pair of teams. This is something that they have to do before the TV channels who took over the telecast rights sue them for lost ad revenue.

Another important thing is the pricing of the tickets. In India, the tickets may sell at any price but it’s ridiculous that for a three hour match they price the tickets as high as 30K (Is it the Shah Rukh Khan stand or something?). I tried to get some tickets in one of the Bangalore matches and a reasonable location on the stadium costs me 2700/- rupees per ticket. I mean, we are not talking about a one day match here!

It’s okay if they come up with even 16 IPL teams as there’s enough players in the world and India who could be beneficiaries but they should definitely reduce the event duration.

Another important aspect of IPL is the injury caused to international players. Even Dhoni himself was injured along with top stars like Graem Smith. This is something that’s going to affect their appearance representing their countries – especially in the forthcoming T20 World Cup!

And finally, IPL and Lalit Modi had done a lot of charity work and support for schools in South Africa last year? Why they hell aren’t they doing anything like that in India this year? Hypocrites!

Hope Lalit Modi is listening!

Ban IPL (Indian Premier League) and Save the Nation!

India has just crashed out of the second edition of ICC World Cup Twenty 20 event. If you ask me whether the Indian team performed to their potential, the answer is ‘NO’ and the reasons are the following:

  • There was no proper opening pair. Basically they did not have a backup for the injured Sehwag and the team composition was wrong here
  • Dhoni disturbed the #3 slot throughout the tournament by promoting himself (selfish) on flat wickets and sending in Raina and Yuvraj when the wicket was fast and bouncy. This disturbed the #3 specialist slot. Ideally, he should have stuck with Raina
  • Our paper tigers are not well-equipped to play in bouncy tracks. They chased moving and bouncing balls without any clue
  • IPL fatigue and Twenty 20 overkill! This was the biggest reason and the topic for today

Is IPL really in the interest of the nation?

Last year I had written a post about the potential threat that IPL was posing then and most of it has come true already. The players (and even BCCI) is purely after money and once they have it with IPL, there is no interest to play for the country. If you remember, last year our skipper had skipped the tour following the IPL citing the need for rest. If he really wanted to rest, he should have taken rest during IPL and not while playing for the country.

BCCI cheating the country?

I would think that the selectors and the management must have known about Sehwag’s injury but they didn’t want to admit the fact that IPL caused the problem (which was the actual reason). By sending an unfit team, they did not really put country’s interest ahead of their money minded IPL.

BCCI is an autonomous private body. If they want to play more IPL and make money, let them but then representing the country’s cricket should not be in their agenda. The government should probably take over that part. At the moment, IPL is only benefiting the franchisees, the players and BCCI but not the country!

For this edition of IPL, it was actually an irony to see that teams like Rajastan or Chennai is playing abroad with a fake fan setup around. Even more ridiculous was the way in which BCCI and IPL was pouring out money to support schools in South Africa and acting like big bosses there. Can’t they do the same kind of charity here in India?

Ban IPL or make it short!

Ideally, they should make IPL only a within-India affair. Also, they should cut down the duration to something like three weeks to save our cricketers to play for the country. Also a shorter duration would make sure that a billion fans who are country’s future – in terms of valuable human resource – will not waste their time by watching just cricket.

Let’s not overdo Twenty 20 and kill our country’s pride! (Please note that it’s not an emotional outburst from me due to India’s exit from the Twenty 20 World cup. I have written about the Twenty 20 overkill many times in the past)

IPL 2009 (IPL 2) is a commercial joke!

The IPL 2 (Indian Premier League), which is being held in South Africa is becoming a big joke this time around. Though Mr. Lalit Modi and co put together some good effort to make it colorful and guaranteed on time delivery of the tournament, the undertone now is MONEY and not cricket!

The South African cricket board has done a wonderful job by hosting the tournament at such a short notice. However, there are some things about this edition of IPL that makes it less attractive for the cricketing world.

First of all, the game rules were changed to make money for the advertisers and Sony Entertainment Television. It is really pathetic that a prolonged and so-called strategic break (10 mins break after 10 overs in an innings) is taking the momentum and steam away. Sometimes I felt that they are using much more than 10 minutes. This break has nothing to do with on the field strategies but to stuff more ads for the Indian spectactors watching it on the TV

Secondly, I am really getting irritated with SET MAX’s ‘technical difficulties’ at key moments during the game. This usually happens during the toss and I get a feeling that they are intentionally doing it.

Thirdly, the weather, which was cited as the prime reason for moving IPL to South Africa (and not England) doesn’t seem to behave as predicted. Half the matches so far have been shortened or wiped out due to bad weather.

As I mentioned in the last post, I was hoping for really fiery pitches so that some of the Indian batting heroes in dead rubber gets to reassess themselves. Definitely the pitches are much better than those in India but somehow not as pacy as expected.

I am also disappointed due to the fact that only 4 foreign players can be used in the 11 member team. Probably this number should have been 5 or 6 as the match is being played abroad. Talking about the game abroad, we are also missing the noise and buzz in the stands that you get to see in India.

The missing real fanbase is another issue. Since there’s no concept of home and away matches for the local teams (Chennai, Delhi etc) some part of the excitement and fan support is missing.

The money aspect is visible in every stage of the tournament. Several teams have sent back their under performers ruthlessly to cut cost. The emphasis is always on how much the broadcasters and team owners can make.

The only positive so far is the older stalwarts who are proving their points. Anil Kumble, Muralidharan, Shane Warne, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly and VVS Laxman are just proving the fans that with technical perfection the problems with age can be offset. Many of the young batting heroes and young bowlers have already failed miserably.

I hope that the situation improves as the tournament progresses and weather gets better. But certainly, since IPL first edition had set a lot of expectations, this time around it is turning out to be a less exciting event.

IPL: Nothing royal about Bangalore Royal Challengers!

As a Bangalorean, one of the fears that I had in mind during the IPL auctioning was about the composition of the Bangalore Royal Challengers team. Its owner, Dr. Vijay Mallya being an aggressive business man having ample sports acumen as well, I was expecting him to come up with an aggressive team setup – players and staff – as well.

Instead, Dr. Mallya entrusted Mr. Rahul Dravid with the team selection and composition. With all respects to Dravid, who is my favorite Indian test cricketer along with Mohammed Azharuddin, I should say that he is still living in the 1950s. My doubts on the team’s performance have become real, match after match.

As many termed it, what we have with Bangalore RC is a test team – more precisely a veteran’s test team. I don’t understand what Sunil Joshi, Anil Kumble, Jack Kallis (Twenty-20 dropped by SA team), Rahul Dravid himself has to do together for the cause of T20. Rahul Dravid has started performing of late, but others have been pathetic. Another thing is that they have some great recruits like Shreevats Goswami and Abdur Razzak who are not even getting a chance. Almost all the matches they featured 7 to 8 players above the age of 30.

There have been some good things about IPL where youngsters got to play with international stars and icons of the game. However, some undue importance given to locals has started hurting many teams and Bangalore RC is the biggest loser among them. Hopefull by next season some of our great names will retire and Twenty 20 – as the name suggests – will be the game of players in their twenties or lesser.

IPL – An opportunity or threat?

The Indian Premier League (IPL), which was originally devised by the BCCI to counter the Indian Cricket League (ICL), seems to be getting bigger than anybody would have thought. Even before the event is kicked off, it has managed to attract so much of international attention and has really become a headache for cricket bodies across the world.

The cash rich BCCI has been really successful, so far, in selling the new idea not only to the potential players and officials but to large business houses, broadcasters and even bollywood celebrities. The 10 year broadcasting rights was given to Sony Entertainment Television for a whopping $1 billion (4000cr rupees!!!). There could be 1000s of crores of other income per year in the form of franchisees, endorsements etc. So in short, it’s pretty clear that BCCI is now running like a business rather than a governing body that stands for the interest of the game. And all this money is for cricket, cricket and more cricket.

More than the mismanaged money of a developing nation, there are other issues as well. Suddenly, a number of international players seem to be opting for early retirement in order to sign up with the IPL. The money that they are going to make for a two months’ summer holiday in India is much more than what they might get for an year’s central contract by their respective cricket controlling bodies. Since BCCI managed to convince ICC about this new Twenty 20 league, local bodies may not have much say. ICC wouldn’t have even dreamt of the revenue potential from IPL, in which case even they would have laid out profit sharing guidelines and other rules to restrict player pouching.

Even worse is the current situation that Cricket Australia is going through. A lot of Australian players – predominantly those who have signed up with IPL – seems to be opting out of the planned tour to Pakistan citing personal issues and safety concerns. In fact, the tour to Pakistan is clashing partly with the IPL summer schedule and this sounds more like a plan to make some quick money with IPL by skipping the Pak tour. BCCI is adding more fun to the whole drama by allowing Pakistan to play a few ODIs against India if tour by Australia is cancelled! All these sound so fishy and I feel that BCCI is growing bigger than the game and all other cricket playing nations and ICC put together. These developments are probably going to jeopardize the game sooner or later.

If IPL is really in the interest of the game, I think ICC should include the same in the overall international cricket agenda and also formulate plans to help other cricket boards who loose their players to IPL. The money required for the same has to be shared by IPL and BCCI. Also, it would be great if BCCI is redirecting part of their huge profits for the betterment of other sports or even to address some social and economical issues in India. That is when IPL becomes a real opportunity for all and cricket really becomes the religion of India!