18 October 2020 last updated at 05:35 GMT
 
LKM Blogs
IPL for the players, by the players.
Lalit K Modi

What a fantastic start to Season 13 of the IPL! Youngsters to the fore. New names emerging. Promise converting to potential and the fans are loving it.   

 

When I look back, I reminisce about some fulfilling years with the BCCI. But I always had just one focus: the players’ welfare.


We created several avenues for the BCCI to earn revenue. Still, the ultimate focus was increasing the remuneration of the players. Remember, just before we took over the reins, the BCCI had agreed on a sharing formula with the players. Also included in the procedure were domestic players, female players, and junior cricketers too.

 

The more the BCCI earned, the more the players made because everyone shared the pie.

 

I remember my colleagues being surprised at the value TV rights, the leading team sponsor generated back then. Even more, what surprised them was the kits sponsor’s value, a concept which was hitherto not heard of till then in 2006. Till then, there was a loose arrangement with kits sponsor, but we entered a structured agreement with Nike, which netted additional revenue for BCCI. The deal represented the first structured licensing program by the BCCI, making the Indian team earn around $43 million. This put us ahead of football clubs like Juventus and Real Madrid in terms of value.

 

That arrangement lasted till last month, so that makes me feel good that our vision was right. We even created a new property: offshore matches where India played games in venues like Abu Dhabi, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Belfast and Glasgow. The core focus of all these engagements was maximising returns, which would ultimately help India’s cricketer.

 

We need the BCCI to rekindle the same spirit now in 2020, some 14 years after my experiments yielded massive returns. Now, the Board needs to think out of the box during these testing times when looking after the players. 

 

The players’ health and welfare are paramount, but there is an opportunity for BCCI to be a bit more creative. The fact that the IPL is starting means looking after 80 uncapped players who still toil in domestic cricket during the winter months. But it is the remaining 670 odd players that the Board needs to be worried about. 

Remember, now the players make decent returns from playing in domestic cricket. Several tournaments are now part of the calendar, which means more playing days and more money to be taken home. In these difficult times, the unheard/unknown domestic player needs the Board’s assurance that they are also in their minds. Remember, all the focus is on the IPL, but we need a plan for the season ahead. There must be some domestic cricket, and not everything should be left on chance.

 

The Board has to attempt to organize domestic cricket because that is the only way a boy in Nagaland or a budding pacer in Puducherry will be motivated to continue with the sport. A thoroughly washed out season because of the pandemic is unadvisable.

 

I would also recommend the BCCI look at how England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) restructured their season. They managed to get in enough cricket for the season, both domestic and international. Their tournament formats were tweaked, but they ultimately got it done. This was important because, unlike India, England’s game is entirely professional. The players only play cricket and are not employed anywhere else.

 

Is a domestic players’ furlough an option for the BCCI? The British government’s furlough scheme covers 80 percent of wages up to £2500 per month. The EPL has also used it well to ensure against job losses and non-playing staff. 

In India, the players have the security of jobs with corporates, which will undoubtedly be a huge boon for them. If nothing, the players should be allowed to play corporate tournaments, because this will ensure they are in the game. The corporates, too, should look at organizing their tournaments. That will ensure that the unheard, unsung heroes of India’s domestic cricket have something to look forward to.

 

I hope that the Board has some minds who are thinking creatively to salvage a season that may well be lost. The international season may well take care of itself. Still, it is the domestic season that worries me the most.

 

The one other thing that will challenge this IPL is the bubbled up cricketers for eight weeks in the UAE. It will be a challenge for the 20-25-year-old players and those guarding against a bubble breach to maintain their sanity for an extended period. Living in the bio-secure bubble has taken its toll on Jofra Archer, the English fast bowler who has spent 87 days inside England’s bio-bubble.

 

This season’s winner might not be the best in-form team, but the unit that copes with the isolation and keeps their sanity in these testing times.

  

 

 

Follow my thoughts on IPL 2020 through my Twitter account @lalitkmodi

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