The expenses of the franchises may have gone up manifold because of the decision to take the first phase of the Indian Premier League to the UAE. But one aspect that is hardly mentioned as expenses has become a worrying matter for some franchises.
Kookaburra Turf, the white ball which is being used in the tournament, is turning out to be too expensive for some teams. These imported balls are priced at Rs 13,000 apiece and the teams have had to invest close to Rs 15 lakh buying them. On an average, each franchise is carrying around 105-110 balls for the entire duration of the tournament, starting with the pre-tournament training.
The training sessions in particular pinch the pocket. "Most of the balls are getting out of shape and owing to fielding, catching and throw downs, we are fast running out of new balls. And add to that, on an average at least two balls are getting lost every time we train, because of big hits; it's difficult to retrieve them from some of the places (where we train). Every Kookaburra Turf international match standard ball costs us a little over $200 (Rs 12,000 approx). Also, during practice the seam goes in, which is the typical problem with the Kookaburra ball. We are wondering how to deal with this," said the manager of a team based in North India.
However, another team manager offered a simple solution. "We can sort it out this way: have two sets of balls, one Kookaburra Turf to be used only for batting and bowling; and another set of Kookaburra Regulation that can be used for catching, fielding and throw downs." Kookaburra Regulation white ball is less than half the price of Turf, costing around Rs 5000-6000 per piece.
However, an official with a team which is not bothered about losing these expensive balls or their going out of shape said: "No matter what we can't give any other ball to our players to train. Our opening batsmen have to play against the new ball and our fast bowlers too have to bowl with the same make. Also, for fielding and catching practice, especially in the slips, point and gully, you need to have a feel of the match ball.
"It's important you maintain uniformity in practice. The characteristics of the ball, its shape and seam, matters a lot. But yes, practice can be split by using relatively cheaper balls -- be it Regulation or SG Test white ball -- the cost can be reduced," said Paras Anand, Managing Director of the Meerut-based Sanspareils and Greenlands cricket gear manufacturing company.
One however is not sure whether it is as big a concern as is being made out by the franchises, given that the teams splurge crores of rupees in this cash-rich tournament.