IPL : Time to Reflect

If a name holds the key to understanding the priorities of an organization, BCCI, one must say couldn’t have got it more wrong.

First it seeks to operate as a corporate managing ‘board’ , next it seeks to ‘control’ whatever it can or rather wants to, after which it identifies itself with ‘cricket’ and finally the consumer base, that is ‘india’.

Though I don’t have privy to the actual working mechanics of the BCCI, I do believe that I may not be very far off the mark with my summarization of it’s working style.

The power of the BCCI does come from the fact that it operates in the biggest market in the world for cricket.  Post liberalization and especially after the growth of the IT service sector saw the emergence of an affluent Indian middle class with willingness to spend.

IPL was the offering to these affluent new-age middle class.  Though T20 originated in England mainly to cater to the needs of those who wanted an evening game of cricket but allowing them to go back at a decent time for the next workday, it was the ingenuity of the BCCI which productized the game as a customer offering.

With the system of ‘price discovery’ for the players through a free-market system, it was obvious that the league was talking big numbers.

With big numbers come big responsibility and big problems.

Sadly BCCI never recognized the challenges of keeping the league clean, reputations intact and intellectually honest. After all, it took the captive audience for granted.

It is a huge irony that the franchise who is the current leader in the table for ‘Fair Play’ must suffer the ignominy of sheltering alleged fixers. It just goes to prove that administering the game is far more difficult and a professional job rather playing the game.

When you are a player, you need to be the best for your own sake ; when you are the administrator of a game, you need to be the best for the game’s sake.

Any kind of punitive action against the players in custody is just a minuscule part of what should be happening next.  BCCI must self-introspect and evolve a mechanism to keep the league away from the reach of the manipulators.

At the end of the day, BCCI, as much as it may bask in the glory of it’s Balance Sheet, will still be guilty of failure if it cannot, despite being the richest body, keep the game clean.

For all those bashing the IPL and/or the BCCI, it isn’t the time : For I believe, despite all the over-the-top-glitz and glamour, IPL has been a good cricketing platform. It is a trifle sad that IPL hasn’t created an Indian Hero in all of these years, but IPL did contribute in letting the world know the prowess of Pollards, Watsons, Narines, offering a decent income stream for Rajat Bhatias and Ajit Agarkars and also providing the opportunity for many Indian players to share the same dressing room with legends of the game. The educational value of a Vijay sharing the dressing room with Hussey cannot be replaced by any number of coaching hours.

So without throwing the baby with the bathwater, it is time to think constructively on restoring the confidence in the IPL.

The BCCI must convince itself and the world that it is committed more to the beautiful game rather than laughing it’s way to the Bank.

Changing it’s name to something like Cricket India, however semantically inconsequential to the actual problems, may be a good starting point.

About hariharanbond
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