Friday 18 April 2008

Don't blame the IPL....

Flashback to the 1950s when India was undertaking her fourth tour to England. Vinoo Mankad, India's star all rounder, was signed by the Lancashire cricket club Haslingden for a princely sum of 1000 Sterling Pounds. Not wanting to lose this money, he did the unthinkable. He asked Indian cricket board to compensate for his loss of revenue in case he was selected to represent India in the test matches! This incident would pass off as rather insignificant, today, but remember we are talking about the 1950s, when cricket was played for fun, pride and everthing else, but certainly not money! It was ok to live in extreme poverty like Vasant Ranjane - India's fast bowler of 1950s - did, or even die in obsurity like JG Navale - India's first ever test keeper. But making money from cricket? Blasphemeous!

Fast forward to the 70s. If there is one cricketer who can be called as the Harbinger of commercialisation of cricket in India, then it is Sunil Gavaskar. Here is what former Indian captain, MAK Pataudi, had to say about him. (Excerpts from Mihir Bose's book - Maidan view) :In Bombay only money seemed to matter, and there was more than one way to make it. Gavaskar found them all. Advertising, film producing, writing articles (on the same match, but for different publications), taking fee for organizing matches, writing instant books which were spiced to sell better, appearance money and signing contracts with manufacturers of sports equipment. He became the first millionaire through cricket, rich enough to buy a flat in the centre of Bombay. In a capitalist cricketing country, he would have been considered a genius. In India they began to call him a mercenary, and within the team he became the envy of some of who felt that their contribution to Indian cricket was not much appreciated. Why should Gavaskar hog all the publicity as well as the money? The answer was simple: he had reached those dizzy heights to which no Indian cricketer in his right mind would even dream of aspiring. As importantly, he was articulate where others were dumb, he was controversial where other dared not to be, he could even be witty and this made him ideal material for the media and advertiser.

Over to the 1990s when Mark Mascarenhas bid for the 1996 WC. He promised an astonomical USD 10 Mn for that event. Back then, that kind of money was unheard of in Indian cricket. It was the beginning of the quest of cricket finding it's market value.

Well into the first decade of the new millenium, Sachin Tendulkar bagged a Rs 200 Crore contract from Iconix.

Last year ESPN Star network bagged the ICC television rights for USD 1.15 Bn.

So friends, don't blame the IPL, the ICL or the Stanford League for commercialisation of this wonderful game. The process of commercialisation is as old as the game itself. These are just the pit stops in the game's long and eventful journey.

Let us allow the market to determine cricket's true value. If the IPL or any of the players flop, be rest assured, market will take its own corrective action. And if they succeed, then fifteen years down the line, Dhoni's Rs 60 Mn or Ishant Sharma's Rs 40 Mn contract for the IPL could well look like peanuts, much in the same way that Vinoo Mankad's 1000 Sterling Pounds contract of 1952, looks now.

15 comments:

Sanath said...

Hello..could u pls link my blog onto your site as i've done regarding yours...tks a ton..TC

Soulberry said...

Well said CG, but there are any number of examples other than Indian. One such example should suffice - Don Bradman.

Naked Cricket said...

with li'l Mc's innings, has ipl overshot icl in just a few hours?

scorpicity said...

Beautiful post CG... great info

Straight Point said...

a good ride down the memory lane...

Q said...

Great way of putting things into perspective CG.

Samir Chopra said...

CG: nice post, and a good dose of historical perspective.

Sanath said...

Hello..could u pls link my blog onto your site as i've done regarding yours...tks a ton..TC

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Avnish said...

Very nice post.Sportsmen are the only artists who are expected to perform for peanuts. We can go all the way back to Jim Thorpe.

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Anonymous said...

Classic

has ipl overshot icl in just a few hours

Soulberry said...

CG? It's been kinda longish break what? :)

Cricket Guru said...

Yes SB, a very longish break, but worth every bit! As usual good to see ya around

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