Cricket clips

#1 With Sahara now becoming a franchise owner, the BCCI has a bit of a problem on its hands. Or rather, an existing problem got escalated:

The board’s existing sponsorship deal with the Sahara Group ends on June 30. Sahara originally won the right to sponsor the Indian cricket team for a period of four years beginning in December 2005 for Rs 400 crore. But the BCCI was unable to find a new sponsor last year, failing to attract even a single bid. So Sahara agreed to continue its sponsorship of the team for an additional six months on the same terms.

That said, indications are the BCCI has learnt nothing from the recent auction fiasco involving the IPL. Check this out:

According to PTI, the bid document is available for a non-refundable fee of Rs. 5 lakh. The notice requires all bidders to satisfy the eligibility criteria laid down by the board, which has also reserved the right to “cancel or amend the entire bidding process at any stage and to reject any and/or all bids without providing any reasons, including calling for a re-tender.”

In other words, I get to shell out Rs 5 lakh for the privilege of bidding to sponsor the Indian team — and that money is non-refundable. I have to satisfy certain criteria — and I don’t know what they are until I shell out said five lakh and get the bid document in my hands. And after I go through this entire process, the BCCI might decide to scrap the entire process “without providing any reason”, which is a nice clause to have if you intend to manipulate the process to favor any one particular party.

And to think it is Shashank Manohar and N Srinivasan, the architects of this process, who are the most vocal when it comes to complaining about the IPL and Modi’s idiosyncratic ways of running things.

#2. In a Rohit Mahajan piece in Outlook, spotted this bit: when India was knocked out in the league stage of the last ODI World Cup, former captains waxed indignant about player endorsements and demanded that it be capped. The BCCI promptly — and unilaterally — issued an edict restricting player endorsements. When then captain Rahul Dravid — prefacing his remarks with the usual diplomatic language about there being no conflict between the board and the players — suggested that the issue was best resolved through dialogue, Shashank Manohar responded thus:

“I do not think there is any scope for rethinking on the endorsement policy already announced,” Manohar told PTI. “The rules and conditions are set. A player may or may not accept [them] but it is not a problem of the BCCI.”

Manohar dismissed suggestions that the board’s decisions could be questioned in the court of law because they infringed on the players’ right to earn.

“Nothing will happen in the court because the players are not models,” said Manohar. “If they want to play for the board and India, the board is putting conditions. You may or may not accept them. If a player is not willing to sign the contract and uphold the conditions of the contract, it amounts to saying that he is not willing to play for India.”

Manohar said there was no question of the board having a dialogue with the players’ agents who have come out strongly against its decisions. “Who are the managing agents when it comes to the board. We don’t even recognise them. When we recognise the players, why should we talk to the agents.”

Consider the sum of those statements: The Board won’t talk to the players because there is nothing to discuss — we have decided, you can take it or do the other thing. The Board won’t talk to players’ agents, because it is talking to the players [to whom it is not talking]. If a player wants to play for “the board and India”, he can do what we tell him to. Or else.

That response is indicative of the ‘tail wags dog’ arrogance that permeates all levels of the BCCI, from the top down. [Note that around the same time, the BCCI “brushed aside” Dravid’s concern that the team was being over-scheduled — a frequently voiced concern, that has as frequently been ignored by the board, up to and including the latest T20 WC fiasco].

Back to Mahajan’s Outlook piece — in which he makes the point that while India’s performance in the latest world level competition was equally disastrous, the once combative captains who demanded caps on player endorsements have been suspiciously silent. He tells you why:

Thus, three years after that noble effort to create practice time for players, India again travels to the West Indies, this time for the Twenty20 World Cup. The team is jaded—45 days of non-stop play, travel and party for IPL-3 has taken its toll. However, this time around, six of the seven ex-captains are silent. Three of them—Sunil Gavaskar, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi and Ravi Shastri—are massively compensated members of the IPL. A fourth, K. Srikkanth, is the (paid) chief selector and also brand ambassador of the winning IPL team, the Chennai Super Kings. S. Venkatraghavan is the director of BCCI’s umpires’ committee. Kapil Dev has spoken, but perhaps only because he hasn’t been part of the BCCI structure (since 2007), penalised for floating the Indian Cricket League. Wonder why Chandu Borde remains silent? Perhaps to show his gratitude to the BCCI for the stray crumbs that fall his way—he was the manager of the team on the tour of England in 2007. The seven also spoke then, and are now silent, because silence is what the BCCI now wants of them.

So when captain M.S. Dhoni says that the IPL parties were detrimental to the Indian team’s interests, we had Gavaskar, not surprisingly, countering: “Tell me one thing, there were no parties in the West Indies, were there? So how can you say that the team performed badly in the Caribbean because of parties in India.”

In passing, the point about Srikkanth is particularly interesting. Check out what Manohar, with trademark arrogance, had said when the Board decided that players couldn’t sign endorsement contracts without first getting permission from the BCCI:

He also defended the board’s decision to ask the players to seek its permission before signing an endorsement contract. “We do not want to know the players’ figures [of earnings from their personal endorsements]. This is mainly to investigate whether there is any clause that conflicts with the interests of the game or the board or the ICC. We have every right to scrutinise the contracts.”

It’s a wonder the words “conflict of interest” come trippingly on the BCCI honcho’s tongue, no? Also note how easily the board abrogates to itself the right to scrutinize private contracts between players and their sponsors — while the same board and indeed, the same Manohar, was responsible for inserting into IPL guidelines the clause that contracts between the franchises and the IPL could not be subjected to public scrutiny.

#3. Worth a read, one of the more balanced pieces to have come out of the aftermath of the IPL fiasco — from Sharda Ugra.

Thoughts? Comments? Oh, and by the way, will be live today on the Yorker show, 3.30-4.30 PM IST. Link on Twitter, as soon as it is ready.


31 thoughts on “Cricket clips

  1. Why don’t people understand one thing. It is their (BCCI’s) team. They can impose whatever condition/restriction on the players as part of the contract. The players can either accept those conditions or not be part of the team. There are millions who are aspiring to take their place.


    Prem, any idea what happened to the Indian Player’s association? All the gr8’s of Indian cricket were vouching for a player’s association; but unfortunately we are not even hearing about it now.

    I know sometime back Dravid and Kumble were trying to fly the player’s association flag but looks like they found no takers.

    Frankly speaking I was surprised to read one RJ Shastri’s name as the founding member, to clarify is he the same Shastri i.e. Director of NCA, IPL GC member?

    • The board killed that one by refusing to talk to the PA — and none of the former players had the balls to speak up.

  3. not sure if SRT can speak up just because he cannot be touched today.
    He will retire and there will come a time when he will be tomorrow’s Kapil Dev – (ie) an yesteryear icon.
    Then, BCCI can treat him the same way it treats Kapil now. Elephants have long memories. Sachin is eyeing self preservation there. Sure, he can be a little more selfless and throw self preservation to winds and actually speak out but I wouldnt expect that by right.

  4. SRT rightly or wrongly has stayed away from anything remotely controversial ( other than defending Bhajji in the infamous Sydney test) throughout his entire career. Fat chance in hell for him to now voice opinion in what is his final legs of a playing career. He had the chance in the early/mid 2000’s when SG was captain and together they both COULD have brought change. That chance came and went, and he wouldn’t ( or I’d be extremely surprised) change tack now.

    MSD on the other hand has his chance now. Last yr in England he had this media conference with the whole team as *support* during the Viru controversy. Do the same now – albeit with the board as his audience. Lay out reasonable terms on the table and present an united team front.

    Fair chance the board will say to them – sod you lot.. and they pick a lesser team. What comes of it – poor performance, dwindling audiences and then the coffers don’t go ‘ ka ching’ quite so frequently..

    Surely the first choice Indian X1 can live comfortably and more IF they don’t play even for a year ?

    Question is – do the lot want a change ?

    • Good idea.

      But my guess is every player has the current Yuvraj phase at the back of his mind. There is bound to be a stage in life when you will carry on merely on reputation and past glory. It is such times that you would want an extended run in the team. Rebels can be dumped at the slightest hint of poor form and never picked again. Lets face it, other than a handful of players who can’t be dumped in a hurry everyone else is replaceable. That is why the first XI will never do what you suggest.

      Like good boys they will lie low, have their ears boxed and wait for the public anger(?) to subside. Then it is business as usual.

  5. hell, you bring in too many problems together. but one thing that stands out is the arrogant dictatorship of BCCI. Who gives them that power? Why are they not accountable?
    Another thong that comes to mind is that if Sahara has it’s own franchisee, what happens to team India?
    SRT has plenty of controversies to face , all not of his making. why add to that? why can’t any ne let him be?

    • Sahara has been clear for some time that it is interested in bailing out of the India sponsorship. And now that it has its own team, it does not need to spend tons of money on the national team as well. What happens? Hopefully, some other sponsor steps forward.

      As to SRT, no one who achieved anything substantial, who created real change, did so by minding his own business. If SRT took up these issues, he would have contributed not merely buckets of runs, he would be identified for all time as the person who eradicated some of the pressing ills in our cricket. His call, whether he wants it on his resume or not.

  6. On the bidding process and the Rs 5 Lakhs etc,I am not surprised because in India,the bidding process for many other projects is very similar,you cough up a large sum just to find out what is in the document!Getting back EMDs for tenderers itself is a huge task,many reputed foreign companies do not bid for tenders in India because of this issue,so BCCI can well hide behind this cover of following the norm.
    I do not agree with SMG,but MSD should have raised the matter before the team left for WI,his team won the IPL,so obviously there are different reasons.One of which was we didnt bat bowl or field well not forgetting the captaincy.

    • Sure. Not uncommon, but patently unfair, and a cheap means of making money. When you call for a bid, best practices are that you specify that it is for, what you are expected to deliver, what the qualifying norms are, etc. Those who satisfy those norms and think they can deliver then put in their bids. Here, you hide the details behind a payment wall, which as I pointed out is hugely unfair.

      On the other, MSD did not, yes, but Gary Kirsten raised this same point last season, and was brushed aside. he is coach, it is his job description to manage the team and get it to function at its peak. If you do not listen to him, what is the point then?

      Ironically, when he raised the same point this time, everyone gave him the horse laugh and said he was saying all this after the defeat. Fact being, we forgot that he warned us of this *before* the last WC, then repeated his warning after we performed badly last time round as well.

      • Yes,Kirsten raised the point of fatigue he also raised the point of unfit players,and guess it will all be rubbed to dust.Maybe Indian team performances should not be dissected,because nothing is done.The Coach report is just a formality to demonstrate a process nothing else.

    • I am not sure I have seen this process before. I guess you are confusing it with Earnest Money that is held in an Escrow account. Once the tendering process is complete, the awarded vendor makes a payment to the buying organization an amount called the Ernest Money. This is to show the seriousness of the vendor in the tendering process. If the vendor defaults completing the tender formalities, the money is consumed by the organization. If the vendor completes all formalities, the money from the Escrow amount is paid back either in full or in installments.

      The tendering process may require the vendors to submit the bid documents along with a cheque/demand draft equivalent to the Earnest Amount specified in the tender. The DD/Cheque is returned to vendors who do not qualify.

      What the BCCI is doing here is plain, daylight robbery.

      • Not confused-there are two issues a high cost bid document to know bid criteria and again a high guarantee money or bid bond or EMD.This is justified by only serious bidders tendering.
        Indian Tenders generally do not follow the escrow system (There could be exceptions).You raised the matter about the successful vendor getting his EMD back,what about the unsuccessful bidders-their money gets locked in and takes a huge time to get back

  7. Prem, even though a lot these situations appear to be hopelessly against the general well-being of the sport, don’t you feel Tendulkar speaking out against any of these would have some impact? I know he’d say he should stick only to cricketing matters, but all these are cricketing matters. Even the stupid blimp is a cricketing matter.
    Speaking out against the board would be amongst the best charities he’ll be involved in.

    • Tendulkar will not do what you suggest. I had broached this with him ages ago, in context of match fixing, and realized then that taking on issues is not his thing. In fact, more recently he has developed the habit of coming up with placatory comments. Like his defense of IPL, or his more recent plea for support to the team.

      • Also, Prem, do you think it is appropriate or fruitful for individual players to take cudgels against BCCI? He may be SRT, but he is still a player with limitations. BCCI is way too powerful for individuals to take on. Government can only work within laws, same as courts. Public opinion does not count as long as they still watch Cricket. The only thing that can really control BCCI is the market pressure.

        • True in a sense, Jazzy, but the catch is, there is no officially mandated players’ body capable of speaking up. In an ideal world, individual guerilla action is not the way to go. In a country like India, however, where neither media intervention nor “official” condemnation makes any difference, sometimes you need an iconic individual to stand up and speak out. SRT in practical terms has no limitations — if he speaks, there will be a national uproar even the BCCI cannot ignore; if the BCCI attempts to discipline him by say not picking him or some such, the resulting uproar will be even greater, such an act will lead to a conflagration.

          Market pressure is good in theory, and even works in some countries. Not here, though, not with a body that places itself above oversight, and monopolizes a game that people will watch irrespective.

          • Prem, I meant by “market”, the sporting market itself in India. Some other sports should compete with Cricket, which will definitely make BCCI more professional and thorough.

          • I would agree that Tendulkar not speaking out on such issues is a great disservice! If he does not speak out, what about the mortals! But, then, if that is not his nature, he will not 😦

      • he probably would have something to lose too, assuming that the allegations of sweat equity – or whatever it was that he allegedly has in ipl ownership interests (it is surprising that after those insinuations about an icon of mumbai and an ex-player etc, nothing ever came out of those comments back then) – are true, if the board wants to strike back …

        – s.b.

    • If you think from a larger angle, actually, the problem with Indian cricket is not necessarily BCCI itself. The problem lies with *OTHER SPORTS*. They do not challenge Cricket, hence BCCI can run its business in its own way. If this was a country where Soccer or Hockey had a competitive space in the public imagination, BCCI would have run things very differently. And, as long as that challenge does not arise, I doubt if anybody can rein-in BCCI, even if the “God” himself speaks out.

      But, for the other sporting bodies to do something to better their things- well, you need the real God to do something.

      • ECB faces a challenge from a lot of sports – soccer being one of them. I don’t think it has made them smarter or be more receptive to public demands.

        Prior to the current T20 win they have had a dismal record over the last 15 years or so. I am not sure how much of the credit of the current win can go to ECB.

        I don’t believe other sports have anything to do with BCCI mending its ways. It is not as if better Soccer action was available locally you would dump everything and become a soccer fan overnight. It is also a matter of taste and history (of involvement).

        SRT can not be everything to everyone. A great player, a role model, savior in matches and then a crusader. If he is not that type let us accept and move on. Enjoy what he gives and leave the fighting to those who may have the temperament for it.

  8. So what exactly did Sharda conclude from the article? Should selectors be taking note or should players be warned or Ipl was at a fault or not?

    I failed to get what exactly was she driving at!

    • i have not read the article, but maybe that is what prem means by ‘balanced piece’ ;-), i.e., it goes right down the line on the centre (neither to the left or to the right), and the conclusion is open to the reader!

      – s.b.

  9. There seems to be a typo (a missing ‘NON’)in paragraph 5 starting as “In other words ….”; I thought the INR 5L is non-refundable based on the info in para 4 while the para 5 seems to say it is refundable.

  10. I think you apportion an unnecessary and underserving level of intelligence and competence by calling Manohar and those of his ilk “arrogant”. I’m not convinced that they’re smart enough to understand the folly of their short-sighted ways.

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