Thursday, October 23, 2014

What's in store post abandonment of the India-WI ODI series?

Unless you have closed yourself in a room for a week or so, you have missed a lot of interesting developments happening across India. There’s a change in the political landscape of 2 states, national Hockey coach resigns citing bureaucracy (nothing new) and then took back his resignation (that's new), few more crappy movies released, companies published their quarterly results with mixed feelings, India unleashed our very own Indian Soccer League (ISL). And quite possibly, you stand to miss this blog post too! 

Indians all across the world were waiting for an India – West Indies tournament to get underway. More so by the Indian players who were demolished by England, again! After surprisingly losing the first ODI, India bounced back by winning the other two. Apparently there has been a long-standing dispute between West Indian players, West Indian board and West Indian players’ representation unit. By abandoning this series West Indies have brought upon themselves an even bigger problem than the player wage dispute - BCCI. BCCI wasted no time in taking action against the West Indian board by cancelling all the future West Indian series.

At least one group seems united in this dispute!
What can we expect now?
  • West Indies board in damage control mode: An obvious action from West Indies cricket board is to initiate discussion with the BCCI and try and sort out their internal disputes over player wages. Let’s get this straight – BCCI is a very powerful board in cricketing circles and their decision will have implications not only to West Indies but to all other cricket playing nations. The lesson for other cricket boards is not to fight their internal battles on BCCI’s turf and thereby forcing BCCI to incur losses. On the other side though, the less powerful teams (apart from Australia and England) will feel they are forced to align their goals with the top 3 to stay financially healthy or face dire consequences.
  • West Indies’ loss is Sri Lanka’s gain: BCCI has mitigated their short term risk by asking Sri Lanka to have an ODI series in India. Sri Lanka on their part has also requested a home series next year and I don’t see any reason why BCCI won’t agree. In the long term, assuming the cancellation of future West Indies series stands, we can expect more bilateral series from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. I feel we are just a couple of series away from introducing Sri Lankan regional teams into India’s Ranji Trophy! Sarcasm well and truly intended, but that’s how frequently we have been playing against each other. In the near to long term, expect more Bangladesh bilateral series (home and away).
  • No impact on IPL: BCCI has “sympathetically” allowed West Indian players to continue participating in the IPL. But I don’t think BCCI had any other option but to allow. If there’s any foreign country that has benefited from the Indian Premier League, it’s West Indies. Their players are extremely important to their respective teams and new players are bought much above their base price. Can you practically imagine a Kolkata Knight Riders team without Sunil Narine? Or a Mumbai Indians team without Pollard? How important Gayle has been to Royal Challengers Bangalore? And Dwayne Bravo has been an important player to both Mumbai Indians and now Chennai Super Kings. Add players like Lendl Simmons, Andre Russell, Sammy and Darren Bravo to the mix and you know how critical they are to the success of the IPL. Its a symbiotic relationship - we need each other.

I honestly don’t think we have seen the end of this episode. WICB needs the support of BCCI to sustain their growth and business model (from a financial perspective). India will continue to need West Indian players to participate in IPL. Indian Cricket also needs a West Indies tour (home and away) for more ways than one. I feel cancelling the future series with West Indies and taking legal recourse is just a smokescreen to force WICB on the back-foot. WICB will obviously look for an amicable solution that would involve revoking the cancellation and rebuilding positive relationship with BCCI. Even if BCCI initiates legal proceedings against WICB, expect an out-of-court settlement which will involve even more ODI / T20 series against West Indies with more revenue share going to BCCI than WICB. 

When two parties need each other the way BCCI and WICB do, a fight is just a tactic for a powerful ally to acquire more of the pie.

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