Saturday, September 06, 2014

Sir Ian Botham on IPL and my counter-arguments

During his MCC Spirit of Cricket lecture, Sir Ian Botham stirred up a Hornet’s nest by targeting IPL for harming Cricket. Not news to you, I understand. Me too! Botham is not the first player to criticize IPL and won’t be the last one either. But he has made some interesting statements that makes a lot of sense. But the argument falters and proposed solution is found wanting.

Some of the statements he made – 
"I'm worried about the IPL - in fact, I feel it shouldn't be there at all as it is changing the priorities of world cricket. Players are slaves to it. Administrators bow to it. How on earth did the IPL own the best players in the world for two months a year and not pay a penny to the boards who brought these players into the game? I know this has been modified to a degree, but it is still an imbalance. The IPL is too powerful for the long-term good of the game. Corruption is enough of a problem in itself, but the IPL compounds that problem given it provides the perfect opportunity for betting and therefore fixing. We have seen a few players exposed, but does throwing the odd second XI player into jail solve it? To kill the serpent, you must cut off its head. The ICC Anti-Corruption Unit must pursue the root of the problem and if necessary expose the big names."
My Counter-arguments – 

He has correctly identified the problem. He has identified corruption and player preference as main problems and he couldn’t be more correct. The issue I have is with the solution he proposes – to discontinue IPL. When he says IPL should not exist, he means it should not have existed at all and now that IPL is flourishing, it should cease to exist to avoid further harm to World Cricket. Irrespective of whether we like / hate IPL, we cannot deny the fact that IPL is the highlight event of BCCI and can arguably be the most awaited event of the year in terms of sheer numbers – revenue & eyeballs. With all due respect to one of the legend of the game, I feel Sir Ian Botham has proposed what is the easiest of all solutions. You have a problem, you remove a problem. That’s now how it should work. 

IPL (and T20, in general) was introduced as a new product to popularize Cricket. As ironical as it may sound, a Cricket World Cup as only 16 world teams playing with an equal number of associate countries fighting for qualification. And we call it “World Cup”. This game we love needs to enter new markets, the popularity needs to spread. And the products that can popularize Cricket are “Test” and “ODI”. No new market would like to watch 2 teams play over 5 days (most of which will be working days) for a result that may not even happen. ODI’s of 7 hours won’t win over 90 odd minutes of popular local games. So Cricket introduced a new product called T20 and BCCI branded it as IPL. Its plain marketing – enter new market with your best product, let the market develop and then cross-sell other products. Start with T20, let the sport develop and then introduce Tests and ODIs.

Where money is involved, greed and corruption creeps in. After all, humans are managing IPL, not God. The solution would be to tackle the corruption and make it as clean as we possibly can. What do we do when our house is in a mess? We clean it and not abandon it, right? And although we Indians are slow in tackling the corruption issue with many administrators allegedly involved, we are at least on the right path. And with the honorary Supreme Court involved, we can expect justice sooner than what politicians / administrators would like. Mudgal committee will come up with their findings soon and hopefully IPL will turn the page to a new chapter – a cleaner one.

The priority of players will change. They will hone their skills to be relevant to T20 format and Test matches stand to lose out. It’s quite natural. Assume if someone tells you that you can earn more than your annual income in less than 2 months, wouldn’t you join? Money talks and we are wired to listen. But how can we tackle this? Here’s a solution – Every board can identify and block some players to play the longer format. The players will oblige if their annual intake is in sync with what T20 players get. But where will this money come from? It can come if we earmark fixed amount from T20 revenues. So T20 can actually support Test matches instead of competing. ODI’s generate enough revenue to run on its own.

Sir Ian Botham got the problem statement right. The Hen is sick. But killing the “sick hen” that lays golden eggs will never be the best solution.

PS: This post has been selected as one of the Tangy Tuesday Picks by BlogAdda. 


  1. To much of greed has taken the sheen off sports especially Cricket!

    1. Yes sir, money and greed are always hand-in-glove..

  2. I can understand what you say that hen is SICK but its because of the golden eggs that it is sick.. and No body in the commitee or any player will do anything because it brings in the Money .. have you ever seen a person who will say no to money ..

    and where money is involved problem will come .. and its not just the corruption look at the effect it has had on the indian team .. instead of making us good I think it has brought the standard of cricket down ..

    1. I respectfully disagree Bikram. By Golden Eggs, I meant the T20 format. The format is good, the administration around it has strayed and needs to be brought in line. T20 has the potential to open up new markets and thats what we want a pure Cricket lovers - more countries being involved..

  3. I am with you on this. Its like killing the duck that lays the golden egg because it made a lot of noise !

    1. Thanks Anita. Hopefully, sanity will prevail :)

  4. It must be controlled. I feel it gives many players an opportunity to play. We are witnessing talent which we thought never existed. I can't recall the name of this 40 year old player, may be Thambe. Imagine it being possible without IPL. It must be checked, not chopped.

    And congrats on the Tangy Tuesday Pick.

    1. Yes, its Tambe. He came into the national limelight thanks to T20.. And I agree, if theres a problem you correct it, not chop it..

      PS: Thank you Saru. And congrats to you too..


All yours..

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