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How IPL, the game changer, keeps on giving

In IPL, all is well for all, all the time. Player sensex is at an all-time high after Hardik Pandya’s move to Mumbai Indians, writes Amrit Mathur.

During the recent assembly elections, a political party’s manifesto promised to bring IPL to the state. The cricket loving party lost, and fans missed out, but the public declaration confirms that IPL is huge; and riding on its runaway success, India is cricket’s undisputed global boss.

PREMIUM Player sensex is at an all-time high after Hardik Pandya’s move to Mumbai In(AFP)

When it started, people thought IPL was a disruptor which gave cricket a solid shake. Today, it is seen as a turning point in cricket’s growth. IPL broke new ground because with it came private ownership, the (visible) owner/investor and the (invisible) market forces that determined the commercial value of players. In one stroke, the traditional ladder (junior to Ranji to Tests) was discarded

and the traditional selection process went for a toss. The fate of cricketers was now in the hands of the person who moved the paddle in the IPL auction room. The league’s most profound impact has been on cricket’s commèrce. BCCI, owner of the league, makes heaps of money from media rights, franchise fee (Lucknow Super Giant pays ₹709 crore each year) and the 20% share of revenue (the top line) from the original eight teams. Team owners are also in a happy space because business is risk free, return of investment is great and profits are guaranteed. Commercially, in IPL there is no play and miss.

In IPL, all is well for all, all the time. Player Sensex is at an all-time high after Hardik Pandya’s move to Mumbai Indians. Others too have hit paydirt, the latest to luck out being Uttar Pradesh’s Sameer Rizvi ( ₹8.4 crore) and Jharkhand’s Kumar Kushagra ( ₹7.2 crore) and Vidarbha’s Shubham Dubey ( ₹5.8 crore).

As IPL is the fast track to fame and riches, young players have signed up with agents to secure ‘placements’. Due to IPL, players are better prepared and ready, good enough to succeed even in the longer format. Cricket underwent a corporate changeover as well. Professional CEOs are hired to build the brand and deliver a positive balance sheet.

The data analyst helps unearth talent, hires players and shapes team strategy. IPL team meetings are slick affairs with serious presentations made by experts. Some dismiss this as unnecessary noise created by support staff wanting to appear busy. True to an extent, but there is no denying that many good practices have come into Ranji Trophy and domestic red-ball cricket is more professional.

IPL has made cricket open, allowing talented kids to force their way up. Looking at the larger picture, it has stretched the boundary and altered cricket in so many ways. That is why its template (cricket/commerce/entertainment cocktail) is a hit worldwide.

Cricket is currently struggling to adjust to the landslide support for T20 cricket. Initially, when the calendar got crowded, it was seen as a scheduling issue and traditional cricket tried to adjust to the new leagues. But now, with South Africa giving priority to its league over Tests, it’s clear that T20 is the favoured option for all stakeholders.

India calling the shots because of IPL’s influence is understandable. That it generates more money than the rest of the cricket world is known. What is not is that India has the biggest cricket set up in the world — more matches (across age groups) than the rest of the world put together. While Australia and SA have 6 first-class teams, and England 18, India had 38 with more than 1,000 first-class players. In size, scale and scope, India is far ahead of others.

Today, thanks to IPL, India has muscle and does not hesitate to use it. When ICC was dividing its income among members, India demanded and got its fair share. In the next financial cycle, India is to receive $230 million annually, nearly 40% of ICC’s yearly global revenue. The next best is England with 7%.


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