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Rs 16,347 Crore IPL Jackpot Sets Off Alarm Bells in World Cricket

Big money for BCCI in fact may even mean trouble for Indian cricket in the future.

Updated
Opinion
5 min read
Star India purchased the media rights for the IPL for the next five years for Rs 16,347.50
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Star India’s successful bid for the IPL rights at Rs 16,347.50 crores should bring in a lot of cheer for the cricket ecosystem in India.

The successful bid by Star India means that both the state associations and the eight existing franchises stand to gain a lot more in terms of payout from the BCCI.  The franchises get 45 per cent of the Rs 16,347.50 deal, while the remainder stays with the Board.

Read: Star India Bag IPL Media Rights For Rs 16,347 Cr for Next 5 Years

In addition to the Star deal, the Vivo title sponsorship of IPL will fetch the board a total of Rs 2,199 crore in the next five years. So, in all the BCCI could gain close to Rs 20,000 crore in the next five years from the IPL deals with not even a ball being bowled thus far.

This excludes all the associate partner/sponsorship deals that could be inked in the coming years for the IPL. Like the Star deal, the franchises stand to gain 45 per cent of the money that Vivo pays out to the BCCI.

This makes IPL the most valuable cricket property in the world which should surely worry cricket boards across the globe. The smaller cricketing nations are surely going to start imploding because of the IPL boom.
Mitchell McClenaghan has opted out of a central contract with New Zealand Cricket and chosen to play T20 leagues across the World instead
Mitchell McClenaghan has opted out of a central contract with New Zealand Cricket and chosen to play T20 leagues across the World instead
(Photo: AP)

T20 Exodus On The Cards

We are already watching teams like West Indies suffer because of the T20 exodus. New Zealand also has had their first high profile exit in Mitchell McClenaghan who opted out of a central contract to play T20 tournaments worldwide.  New Zealand’s player base is quite small and players exiting the big stage will make it that much harder for them to keep fighting above their weight.

More could follow suit in the days to come because the payments for a cricketer in the smaller cricketing countries is not exactly flashy.

World cricket has already lost Zimbabwe. West Indies is struggling with the star players more keen to play T20 leagues across the world. Pakistan seems to allow their players to play T20 leagues all through the year even at the cost of their own cricket. There are other countries like Sri Lanka who are suffering because of a smaller pool of players to choose from. South Africa is fighting itself to stay relevant in world cricket thanks to their selection policies.

The problem is not just the IPL. By the year 2020, seven of the top 10 Test playing nations will have their own T20 leagues.

Of the remaining, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka have already staged their own T20 leagues but failed to cash in on it. New Zealand is too small a market to have its own T20 league and can at best accommodate an overseas player in every domestic squad.

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Bilateral Cricket Will Take a Hit

The presence of all these leagues will ensure that there is some cricket every month of the year giving cricketers from the smaller nations employment all through the year. While the bigger nations like India, England and to some extent Australia will manage to retain players, almost every other team will lose players to the T20 lure.

It will ensure that the value and charm of bilateral cricket keeps going down. The monies paid out for bilateral cricket rights will keep diminishing, thereby further reducing the importance of country vs country cricket.

To some extent an ICC tournament or finale like the India v Pakistan Champions Trophy title clash will whip up passion for a while. But regular bilateral cricket will keep losing its charm. In the last couple of years we have seen a lot of meaningless bilateral cricket which has not really set the cash registers ringing.

That in itself should have been a pointer to the cricket boards to get their act together.

But unfortunately that has not really set off the alarm bells. We have seen the lack of interest in India’s last two bilateral series with depleted sides providing little or no competition.

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BCCI and CoA members at the IPL media rights auction in Mumbai on Monday
BCCI and CoA members at the IPL media rights auction in Mumbai on Monday
(Photo: BCCI)

In The Long Run, BCCI Loses Out

What the new IPL deal has therefore done is taken away India’s bargaining chip on the world cricket table. Bilateral series will no longer be the major talking point for India to drive home because the competition itself is drying up. And this will reflect majorly when the BCCI’s bilateral rights come up for renewal in February-March 2018.

With depleted sides across the world, the challenge of a bilateral series will not ensure the same level of frenzy as the IPL. Already, the IPL deal is worth more than a bilateral series and that should alert everyone on the impending doom in world cricket.

The other big concern for everyone should be the little or no interest for anyone in Test cricket. For long considered the pinnacle of cricket, the oldest format has witnessed some unbelievable performances recently but the broadcasters have little or no interest in it.

The world governing body, ICC, is planning to launch a Test and an ODI league after the 2019 World Cup in order to bring context to bilateral cricket. But by the time the two leagues are kick started it may well be too late for world cricket in its present format to be saved.

The leagues are already delayed by at least 10 years. Currently, world cricket is running on borrowed time. There is little or no interest till now in procuring television rights for international cricket in England and Australia from Indian broadcasters. In the early 2000s, that was a huge source of income for England and Australian cricket boards. Now with India set to tour both England and Australia next year, we still don’t know where we will get to see those matches.

While everyone breaks their head over how much percentage India will get from ICC’s revenues, surely they can spend a bit more time to help world cricket survive.

As for the IPL cash bonanza, we must remember that while everyone will laugh their way to the banks, this too shall pass if the talent pool becomes limited in the long run.

So a balance is required now or else we will only have more of Warriors and Kings playing each other.

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(Chandresh Narayanan is ex-cricket writer for The Times of India, The Indian Express, ex-Media Officer for ICC and current media manager of Delhi Daredevils. He is also the author of World Cup Heroes, Cricket Editorial consultant, professor and cricket TV commentator.)

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