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Not just money, it’s leadership too

cricket Updated: Feb 16, 2014 01:50 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times
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Over the past couple of weeks, two rather uninteresting but significant bits of news emerged. One was the financial windfall to New Zealand Cricket through the India series that even eclipsed the one fetched by the country’s favourite sport rugby, and the other that sees Australia tour Zimbabwe for the first time in a decade.

Put together, these two incidents show the significance of the revamped structure at ICC. The presence of Australia England and especially India guarantees money to every home board and the Big 3 have at least begun to honour their promise that was reportedly made in return for signing the document.

Much debate has taken place and the Big 3 have been derided for this alleged act of ‘heist’. Even former BCCI president, IS Bindra, in a recent chat with HT had hit out at the inequality, asking the cost at which it’ll be done, referring to decline in relations and reputation.

But an Indian board official rebuts the criticism, “Would you rather have empty stands witness a legend like Jacques Kallis’s farewell Test in his home country, and that too on traditional Boxing Day, or have the festive season matches in India where there will be plenty of takers.”

No wonder, through this revamped structure, BCCI doesn’t just want a bigger share in ICC profits which it feels is its right as its team fetches most eyeballs and sponsors. It is also looking for a regular home season, something along the lines of Boxing Day or New Year, and it wants to play host to two such series every year.

BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel confirmed this but also promised that India will be honouring its contracts of touring abroad to ensure other boards make revenue too.

“There is no doubt that India’s presence draws in the most sponsors in ICC tournaments and it is only natural that we get the most,” says Patel. “What we also want is a fixed home season. Two home series every year in winters is a must though the timing will vary with India’s commitments abroad (to the southern hemisphere). Of course, these home series will fetch India plenty of revenue.”

India the home
According to market experts, a series not featuring India fetches 30%-50% less revenue to a host nation. So India’s presence in any country helps the hosts make profits, marginal for some and more for others. However, if the series is held in India, then the revenue gets doubled.

“The amount more than doubles when it comes to games played in India. And it doesn’t just double for the BCCI, but an equal amount goes to the state associations unlike abroad where only the national board gains,” says Delhi-based owner of a company that buys and outsources in-stadia advertising. In short, an India match that can fetch Rs 1 to 1.25 crore to a board abroad will fetch Rs 2 to 2.5 crore to the BCCI and the host association through such advertising if played at home.

While the graphic shows India’s share in ICC earnings skyrocketing as per new rules when related to the expected revenue, the other teams may also stand to gain, although disproportionately, as ICC’s revenues are expected to touch between $3-3.5 billion by 2023. According to sources, broadcast rights alone could fetch between $2.75-3.2 billion (Rs 17-Rs 20,000 cr).

But, Patel says, it is not just about the money. “The point is about leadership. Over the past few years, how many countries have honoured bilateral commitments?”

Wally Edwards, the Cricket Australia chairman, too spoke about the same thing recently, pointing that lack of leadership made the current Future Tours Programme (FTP) haphazard while the new one will have contractual agreement.

The top three boards have burgeoning T20 leagues with IPL leading the way. The leagues bring in huge revenues to the respective boards and while the IPL had been fighting for a window in the current FTP, it is expected that the new one will register its importance as also of the Australian and English leagues.

However, a former official says that all this will mean a lot of cricket for players and could also lead to burnout. “The BCCI wants two home series every year, want to honour bilateral agreements and then the players will play ICC tournaments and the IPL. Won’t it be too much?”

The balance is perhaps the most important question that the Board will have to answer. Or will BCCI sacrifice one of the things and risk breaking the promise or alternately create separate teams and spawn many cricketers.

“We’ll see,” is what Patel would say.

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