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IPL– It’s a factor in evolution of Indian Cricket

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Following cancellation of T20 World Cup due to Covid-19, BCCI got a window to go for the IPL which was originally scheduled for March-April’20. Now they are planning to organize it at three locations in UAE from September’20.

Questions were raised, if a tournament like IPL can be organized following all Covid-19 protocols why T20 World Cup cannot be organized. BCCI is blamed for putting its weight on ICC to get the T20 World Cup cancelled to make way for IPL.

It’s a million dollar question who persuaded whom, difficult to ascertain. Even if it is true, it is not an issue because IPL is more than just a tournament for Indian Cricket.

Another hurdle the BCCI had to overcome was the sponsorship. Amidst nationwide emotional cry for boycotting Chinese product and Chinese money, BCCI was in a fix as Vivo, the Chinese technology giant, was the major sponsor of IPL. It has a contract with IPL for five years from 2018 for Rs. 2,199 cr, yearly it comes to Rs. 440 cr. It’s a huge money. As the tournament was nearing, getting a new sponsor was not the right choice. More than that it was the commitment. Credibility was at stake which cannot be overridden by emotions. BCCI took a decision to continue with Vivo.

But, now some quarters have asked BCCI not to go with this sponsorship, if need be the tournament itself to be cancelled. Subsequently, Vivo is also expressing its desire to exit from the sponsorship for this year.

So, BCCI is seemed to be in crisis to keep the tournament on this year. Getting a sponsor within this short span of time and that too with the kind of money the present sponsor was offering is a huge challenge. It’s a big blow to the tournament and Indian Cricket.

Let’s have a look how IPL contributes to Indian Cricket.

IPL is a domestic club cricket in India, so, it is not a high level tournament. But, considering the popularity of the game in the country it is a very innovative concept to monetize the game which benefits players and general people as well. The players are purchased by the Franchises in an auction through bidding and they get attractive money, depending on their capabilities and past performance.

At the same time BCCI also earns huge money by way of TV right, sponsorship, advertisements, etc. The major part of this money is ploughed back into the game in the country for its development.

Franchises also invest money and do their own part to get the return and invest it back in their own fields.

So, one can imagine the number of people involved in this whole set up who gets opportunity for gainful employment. This is in general.

Coming back to cricket, we have seen taking Cricket as a career was a far cry a decade or two back. It used to happen accidentally, not by choice. A player has to play for the country for a considerable period of time to consolidate his financial position for a decent post cricket life. Only a small number of cricketers were fortunate enough to achieve this. So, people from middle class families cannot take risk by opting for cricket as a career.

Now, the scenario is quite different; a player can be a professional without even playing for the country. If we see beyond IPL, in domestic Cricket, players are becoming professionals by playing Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy and other domestic tournaments. A Ranji player is paid Rs.1.4 lakhs per match. Moreover, many states pay the players on graded system through annual contracts which is substantial and over and above match fee. In junior level tournaments also a player earns between Rs.0.5 to 1.0 lakh per match.

But, on the contrary, these domestic tournaments cannot earn money, rather it requires money for organizing matches, logistics and other administrative supports. How BCCI will earn money to support this? IPL is a major source of getting revenue for BCCI. It gets around Rs. 300 cr. This money is critical to keep domestic cricket remunerative and competitive.

We have seen now players coming from small towns. It’s happening because the domestic cricket is made competitive by overhauling the entire set up over a period of time. More and more players are coming out to make cricket a career as it is designed to be rewarding.

Players like Sheldon Jackson of Saurashtra, despite playing very well in domestic cricket, cannot find a place in the national team because of the stiff competition. He is not having many more cricketing years left as he is already 33. So, he has to make quick money in next few years to have a decent post cricket life. Now got an opportunity with Puducherry who has given him a contract to play Ranji Trophy at a much higher rate, much to the dismay of Saurashtra Cricket Association. This is development.

Again, players like Karun Nair, who scored a triple century in tests in the recent past, not finding a way back in to the Indian team. How stiff is the competition!!

Wicket Keepers like Wriddhiman Saha, Rishab Pant and K.L. Rahul are fighting for one slot, whereas all three are capable of finding a place in the main XI.

Today, if somebody is dropped due to injury his return may be sealed by his replacement. That is the kind of bench strength we have now.

Because of this competition our national teams getting strengthened with best of the best players to the envy of others.

This is development, rather this is an evolution of the game in the country and we all should be proud of it.

IPL is a big factor in the evolution of cricket in the country and it deserves a priority, if needed, let there be an exception.

Rituraj Baruah

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