Cricket and Commerce Come Together

International cricket megastars with large paychecks to match their egos, Bollywood's elite actors, big business magnates, provocatively dressed cheerleaders, the big sports media, huge worldwide audience, deep pocket sponsors all come together to put on spectacular three hour, 2020 games of the two newly formed Indian cricketing leagues.

This is a revolution in the world of cricket, a sleepy, colonial era, gentleman's game that the British brought to their colonies including India and Pakistan. Taking a leaf from the sports leagues in US and Europe, it represents a coming of age for the business of sports in India. According to the New York Times, the Indian billionaires are for the first time staking their prestige on sports teams. The Indian Premier League’s most expensive franchise, at nearly $111.9 million, is the Mumbai Indians, fittingly owned by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani. The flamboyant liquor baron Vijay Mallya picked up the Bangalore-based Royal Challengers for $111.6 million, and the actor Shah Rukh Khan is backing the Kolkata Knight Riders for $75.09 million.

Forbes magazine reports that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), a nonprofit body controlling the game in the country, has racked up $1 billion to date from selling commercial rights to Indian cricket for the next five years. (One source: Nike paid $45 million to flash its logo on players' apparel and to sell garments to cricket fans.) "It's all about extracting the most value," said Lalit Modi, BCCI's new marketing chief, who hopes to eventually make $1.5 billion from Indian cricket, ten times what BCCI made in the last go-around.

IPL offered contracts to several Pakistani players including Shoaib Malik, Shoaib Akhtar, Muhammad Asif, Shahid Afridi, Younis Khan, Muhammad Yousaf and Inzamam ul Haq.

According to the BBC, the players were offered to the franchisees in an auction process. Australia captain Ponting is among 13 of his compatriots in a pool of international cricketers available to the franchises, which were allowed to spend a maximum of $5m on eight contracted players. There have been recent reports that several top Australian players have been promised the IPL's salary cap will be axed in the future. The biggest stars could then expect IPL contracts of about $15 million. Australian captain Ricky Ponting has opposed this move. "I have certainly heard there may be no salary cap next year but I'm not sure if that will be good for the IPL," Ponting told Australia's Courier Mail. "The more I've thought about it, it might be detrimental to the whole set-up.

The winning bids, which were selected electronically in a sealed room, offered Pakistani players as follows: Shoaib Akhtar $425,000, Younis Khan $225,000, Kamran Akmal $150,000 and Umar Gul $150,000. These amounts are several times larger than the current compensation they receive from PCB.

According to BBC Sports, IPL's top 10 winning auction bids in February were:

Mahendra Dhoni: $1.5m (Chennai)
Andrew Symonds: $1.35m (Hyderabad)
Sanath Jayasuriya: $975,000 (Mumbai)
Ishant Sharma: $950,000 (Kolkata)
Irfan Pathan: $925,000 (Mohali)
Brett Lee : $900,000 (Mohali)
Jacques Kallis: $900,000 (Bangalore)
RP Singh: $875,000 (Hyderabad)
Harbhajan Singh: $850,000 (Mumbai)
Chris Gayle: $800,000 (Kolkata)

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Here are two stories on Pakistan Super League:

Haroon Lorgat, the former International Cricket Council boss who is now a consultant for the Pakistan Cricket Board’s new Twenty20 league, feels it has got huge potential and will attract top foreign players to participate in the event soon.

In an exclusive interview to Gulf News, Lorgat, who stopped over in Dubai after launching the logo of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Lahore, said: “There is a lot of potential for the PSL. We all know that Twenty20 cricket is now a reality and professional cricket in the form of franchise-based models is now common and people understand it. So professional leagues will develop and Pakistan, which has some 180 million people, are very passionate for the game of cricket. They have amazing talent within the country and the response I have seen for this league has even excited me.”

Lorgat, who was the Chief Executive of ICC during a crucial phase, strongly believes that foreign players will return to play in Pakistan.

“Foreign players should come to play in Pakistan. We all know the negative perceptions about safety and security. It is something which is real and the PCB will put in place a security plan to deal with the risks and perceptions. The enquiries received from some very good foreign international players to play in the league are extremely encouraging. If I look at what has already been confirmed and what is in the pipeline, it bodes well. I hope some of the real super stars too will consider though I do understand that it will be up to each individual to decide. I have been to Pakistan a number of times recently and Lahore is quite a normal place. Cricket goes on there and I know that Pakistan will put appropriate safety and security measures in place.”

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Answering to a query why Pakistan players are good Twenty20 players and whether it has to do with their physique or skill, Lorgat said: “It is a combination of a number of things. They certainly have serious talent and skill. We all know how often Pakistan select new players that thrills the world. They appear to work a lot harder these days and I have seen their academy which is very impressive. They have good process in place to develop their players, their disciplines have also improved and with their skills they will always produce match winners. “


http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/sports/16-Jan-2013/pakistan-super-league-has-potential-says-haroon-lorgat

The Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) plans of involving international cricketers in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) are likely to get a boost after some Australian players, who took part in the Sri Lankan Premier League (SLPL), indicated that they would like to be a part of the event.

It has been learnt that the Pakistani players, who were part of the SLPL, tried convincing foreign players to participate in the PSL and received an encouraging response from them. The Australians part of SLPL included Brad Hodge, Clint McKay, Dirk Nannes and Adam Voges among others.

“Australian players have shown interest in the PSL,” a PCB official told The Express Tribune. “They were receiving $20,000-$35,000 in SLPL and with an opportunity of earning up to $100,000 in Pakistan, we’re hopeful it will be an attractive enough proposition for them. Their presence would be vital to our pursuit of the revival of international cricket in Pakistan.”

The official was hopeful that a successfully executed PSL would help them to host international matches in Pakistan.

“We need to set a precedent through the PSL that Pakistan is safe for sports and it won’t be difficult in convincing teams to play here as it’s right now.”
...


http://tribune.com.pk/story/494429/pakistan-super-league-players-contacts-will-help-get-more-stars/
Riaz Haq said…
The Indian Supreme Court has banned two IPL teams, Chinnai's CSK owned by ICC chair Srinivasan, and Rajhastan Royals owned by Shipla Shetty.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/cricketnews/ipl-fixing-betting-csk-suspended-for-2-years-meiyappan-kundra-banned-for-life/article1-1369059.aspx

EVEN by the turbulent standards of Indian cricket politics, the ongoing collision between the country’s Supreme Court and cricket board is astonishing. In recent months India’s top judges have been quietly examining the latest allegations of cronyism and corruption in the world’s richest national tournament, the Indian Premier League (IPL). At a hearing on March 27th, they unveiled a list of preliminary responses to these allegations. It would amount to a radical shake-up of one of India’s most opulent and powerful institutions, with potentially enormous repercussions for Indian cricket and the global administration of the game that India dominates.

The judges propose that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) must urgently remove its boss, N. Srinivasan (pictured). His alleged conflict of interests—Mr Srininvasan’s family firm, India Cements, owns the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), an IPL side—is at the centre of the recent scandals. They began last year when Mr Srinivasan’s son-in-law, Gurunath Meiyappan, an official at CSK, was arrested and charged with betting on IPL games and other offenses. The judges further propose that employees of India Cements, who appear to include several members of India’s cricket elite—including the captain of the national side, Mahendra Singh Dhoni—should be banned from holding positions in the BCCI.

CSK and another IPL side, Rajasthan Royals, should be suspended from the forthcoming IPL tournament, the judges advise. The Royals—part-owned by Rupert Murdoch’s son Lachlan—provided another recent scandal when three of its players were arrested on suspicion of match-fixing. These and other allegations of corruption, the Supreme Court says, should now be given an independent investigation, which the BCCI has doggedly refused to provide. Meanwhile, the cricket board should be presided over by an “outsider”. Sunil Gavaskar, a great cricketer of the 1970s and 1980s, has been suggested. In the event that the BCCI refuses to follow these helpful tips, the court is expected to order it to do so, perhaps this week.

Anyone familiar with the activism of India’s highest court will not be altogether amazed by this. Armed with extraordinary powers, its judges are accustomed to playing an exceedingly forward role in mitigating the rottenness and disfunctionality in Indian public life. In recent years they have, among diverse interventions, called on the government to review the official measure of poverty, barred politicians with criminal records from standing for office and ordered buses in Delhi to switch from diesel to compressed natural gas. Yet the BCCI is arguably the judges’ most formidable target yet.

Highly politicised, hugely wealthy, largely unaccountable and arguably more representative of India’s new economic clout than any other national body, the cricket board wields enormous influence in India and abroad. That is, in a corrupt country, a recipe for relentless scandals. The IPL, a tournament owned by the board but invested in by many of India’s most rich and glamorous people, has been beset by allegations of corruption and fraud ever since its creation, in 2008. Hitherto, the board’s power has also made it largely untouchable; hence the impunity displayed by Mr Srinivasan. That will now be much harder; the BCCI is expected to give its response to the courts on March 28th.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/gametheory/2014/03/corruption-indian-cricket
Riaz Haq said…
A 2010 NY Times story on corruption in Indian cricket:

Founded three seasons ago, the Indian Premier League managed to make the sport of cricket sexy. India’s corporate titans bought teams, Bollywood stars infused matches with celebrity glamour and fans from Mumbai to Dubai to New Jersey followed the league on television as its value rose to more than $4 billion.

For many Indians, the league, known as the I.P.L., became a symbol of a newly dynamic and confident India that was expanding its influence in the world. Yet after weeks of allegations of graft and financial malfeasance, the resignation of a government minister and the suspension of the league’s charismatic commissioner, the league has become emblematic of something else: how much the old and often corrupt political and business elite still dominates the country.

“The great pity in India is that creations like the I.P.L. became a victim of their own success,” the editor in chief of the magazine India Today, Aroon Purie, wrote this month. “Where there is money involved, especially large sums, corruption is not far behind.”

---------------

Ramachandra Guha, a historian who has written a book about cricket, said the I.P.L. tailored itself to the aspirations, and alienation, of an Indian middle class disillusioned with the country’s corruption and poverty. But Mr. Guha said the organization of the league — with teams located in India’s most affluent cities as opposed to having one in every state — has effectively mirrored the deep inequality in society.

“It is the India that is doing well economically,” he said. “It shuts itself off from the other 800 million Indians who live in the hinterlands.”

Now, Mr. Modi is gathering documents for his hearing, while government officials have come under scrutiny. A junior minister of foreign affairs, Shashi Tharoor, was forced to resign because of his involvement with a consortium that won a bid for a team in his home state.

Others who seem closely linked to the league have so far stayed in power as the scandal has assumed political overtones. Mr. Pawar heads a regional political party that is part of the coalition government led by the Congress Party. As yet, investigators have not accused him of any wrongdoing.

And the country’s civil aviation minister, Praful Patel, has faced questions on whether he was involved in the bidding process for a new franchise and whether his ministry had showed favoritism to his daughter, a former model who helps coordinate the I.P.L.’s travel. In late April, the state-owned airline, Air India, canceled a scheduled flight, delaying passengers, so that Mr. Patel’s daughter and several I.P.L. players could use it as a paid charter.

Dhiraj Nayyar, a senior editor at The Financial Express, said the cricket scandal was best understood in the context of India’s economic evolution. When India’s stock exchange took off in the late 1980s and early 1990s, scandals erupted over market manipulation until regulatory structures were strengthened. Today, the same absence of transparency and regulation exists in cricket.

“The I.P.L. is a curious creature that combines the best and worst of Indian capitalism — fabulous enterprise and outcomes on the one side, riddled with cronyism, patronage and power politics on the other,” Mr. Nayyar wrote recently. “In many ways the I.P.L. is a confirmation of what India really is: an emerging economy.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/11/world/asia/11cricket.html?_r=0

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