What is it about Twenty20 leagues and controversy? Not long ago the Karnataka State Cricket Association announced that it was launching a franchise-based T20 state league with eight teams taking part from the different districts of Karnataka. The proposed model was a low-cost, low-return version of the Indian Premier League.
While cricketers in Karnataka appreciated the opportunity for local talent to get exposure, it seems that the model might not have been fully thought out. The KSCA has pegged the reserve price for each team at Rs 20 lakh per year and will be accepting bids and announcing winners on Wednesday.
The concept, however, has come in for strident criticism from two of Karnataka’s favourite sons Anil Kumble and Javagal Srinath. Kumble says the KSCA should have conducted the tournament on its own. “What’s the point of the exercise? Why this desire to go corporate? The sums of money we are being told about are modest, the KSCA could have handled the event from the BCCI’s annual grant . The tournament in its proposed shape could allow a backdoor entry to people not necessarily passionate about cricket into the KSCA, and perhaps into KSCA administration. I don’t see that as a healthy or positive development.”
Srinath’s view was not terribly different. “It’s a great format, helping the game reach newer audiences,” said Srinath. “But you have to orient kids towards the longer version first, then introduce them to T20. Don’t make these kids out to be professional T20 players aged 17 and 18. Money at this early stage is very difficult to handle and has a different meaning.”
Srinath also believes the KSCA could have conducted the tournament themselves. “It would have been prudent if the KSCA conducted the event on its own, and then went to sponsors with proper data points,” said Srinath. “If the concept doesn’t take off, sponsors who have come forward might never return to cricket.”