On the face of it, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) lost $60 million (about Rs 240 crore), when they allowed a bank guarantee to lapse just before Zee officially broke off the deal to telecast India’s games in offshore venues in May.
Zee Sports chief, Himanshu Mody, “happy” enough that Zee was saved the money, dubbed it an “irresponsible lapse”. “The bank guarantee was unconditional and the claim period was till May 12, 2007. If they had written to the bank to encash it, there was nothing we could have done to stop them. Later of course, we would have probably contested it but who knows what happens later,” Mody told HT on Thursday.
The Indian Board’s Finance Committee meets in Mumbai on Friday and will not discuss the repercussions of that financial loss. According to sources, this amount has been written off something that “could not be helped”.
But there could be a commonsense reason behind allowing this ostensibly shocking lapse — actually, a very interesting one. The days of offshore matches (games in non-regular venues like Kuala Lumpur, Ireland and Abu Dhabi) could be at an end — at least for now.
The reason? The sheer number of games India will play as part of the regular Futures Tours Programme over the next couple of seasons will leave very little time to organise these offshore games.
Take the next few months. India’s 80-day tour of Ireland and England ends with the last one-dayer on September 8 and the Twenty20 World Cup begins on September 11. The Cup lasts a fortnight. One week after the September 24 final (though India are not expected to get there), is the first of Australia’s seven ODIs in India.
Less than two weeks after the Aussies leave (after a Twenty20 game on October 20), Pakistan come to town for a Test and one-day series. And a week after India and Pakistan finish their final Test, India will be playing Victoria (from December 20) in a tour game in Melbourne, at the start of the mega series Down Under. They will be there till early March.
It is absolute madness in any case, so where is the chance to squeeze in offshore games? So one stream of thought is that the powers-that-be at the BCCI realised this early and therefore did not attempt to encash the guarantee, not sure if they would be able to guarantee any games. “The players in any case, were not happy about the heavy scheduling and it is hectic. It would also not have been financially viable because given the heavy schedule, either top stars would have skipped the games or they would have been held at times when the weather was not okay,” said a BCCI official.
On the other hand, if the offshore games go, the Board will not face a loss of income just on the financial front. They will also lose a chance at goodwill and some bargaining power. When they play an offshore game, some of that money goes to the staging association (like Ireland benefited recently) and some to the country they are playing against, in this case, South Africa. But if they’re looking out for their own players, it’s a loss that might be worth it.