The Champions League and India’s Cricket Administration

As always, Dileep Premachandran has a brilliant column in The Guardian. Rather than write my own blog post, I’m just going to deconstruct his so you can fully appreciate the argument:

Point #1: The Champions League failed in India, largely because cricket is still about nationalism in India, not the game itself —

India went out in the first round in South Africa, and according to aMap, the average rating for the competition was 1.1 [meaning 1.1% of the homes surveyed were watching the games]. Interest peaked during the India-Pakistan encounter which had a rating of 6.2 (industry insiders say that any rating above 3 is a good one). The figure for the first few days of Champions League action? 0.74.

Point #2: Cricket fatigue doesn’t help, as the administrators kill the goose with the golden eggs —

There was a time when the first touch of late-autumn chill had cricket aficionados in a tizzy about the new season. Now, with the sport played all year round, who can summon up that excitement? “Look at the English Premier League,” says Arora. “They have a fixed three-month break at the end of each season. By the end of that, fans are desperate for play to start again. How can you have that desperation if you play all the time?”

Point #3: Indian cricket administrators are also still remarkably inept, using a ridiculous rotation schedule among still shabby stadiums that are also hung with still ridiculous reservations for VIPs who don’t show up. Phew! —

India may remain the game’s financial hub for the foreseeable future, but there seems to be no effort to create a genuine cricket culture. Where’s the annual marquee Test, the equivalent of Boxing Day at the MCG, July at Lord’s or New Year in Cape Town? Why is there a ridiculous rotation system that has denied Eden Gardens, India’s liveliest venue by far, a Test since December 2007? In that time, Mohali, where Tendulkar went past Brian Lara’s record for most Test runs in front of silent concrete stands and a few bussed-in schoolkids, has hosted two games.

There’s still more in that article worth reading that I haven’t quoted. Yeah, it’s that good. All hail. Read it.


5 thoughts on “The Champions League and India’s Cricket Administration

  1. […] is in reference to Dileep Premachandran’s column on cricket loyalties, as well as my post on why cricket should stay international: our brains are already wired to root […]

  2. Som says:

    I don’t agree with point one that Champions League failed in India, largely because cricket is still about nationalism in India, not the game itself. While it’s a convenient as long as you discuss CL, it falls flat on its face when talk in the context of IPL. There was no nationalism again but it was popular. Truth is, cricket is little bit of everything. When India play Pakistan, it’s about nationalism and in IPL it’s about your city and individual players and their charishma.

  3. achettup says:

    Sorry, but I thought it was a pretty poor assessment made based on what he knew his target audience wanted to hear. My counters below:

    Point #1: Then how do explain the IPL’s TRP? Now ask yourself why Premachandran chose to conveniently leave out the IPL’s aMap rating? Perhaps the fans from Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad were simply more interested, perhaps there was fan fatigue, but to directly associate the poor figures of a tournament being held for the first time with nationalism reeks of shoddy or naive journalism when there are a myriad of possible other reasons (see too much cricket, see diwali going on at the same time, see unknown teams taking part, see the absence of a substantial number of big names etc etc etc)

    Point #2 This is accurate, there is too much cricket going on and the administrators have to work this one out. That said, the EPL and international football are separate events and there is much better planning there. How many people from England for example were following the South American football qualifiers? I don’t have the data, but I would question any report that said it got more viewership than the EPL? People who have called for a separate window for the IPL know what they are talking about. And the way tournaments have been crammed together in a crass attempt to make as much as possible in this duration has come back to hurt them. There are way too many meaningless tours and tournaments in the current FTP. Good administration has to find a balance to sustain interest levels, but to believe the solution is to end club cricket will probably be like cutting your nose to spite your face. Its not happening, there is far too much for everyone to lose.

    Point #3: Politics has played a debilitating role in Indian Cricket administration, just look at the mess going on in Rajasthan now. It is a disgrace that Eden Gardens hasn’t hosted a match, there was a lot of reconstruction going on for a while, but I think the friction between the CAB and BCCI has been well documented for most people to figure out whats been going on that front. It is true, there are too many stadiums hosting international cricket, a nice solution might be for some to exclusively host IPL and CL tournaments, and other historically relevant stadiums to host Tests. Maybe ODIs at a mixture of both, if ODIs last that long. But “genuine cricket culture” does confuse me! We all know Premachandran is huge Australian fan, he was even accused by the English of being racist when he wrote an article about his pleasure at seeing the “old master” (if I’ve got that correct) lose, and so it does not surprise me to see his only real example of substance is the MCG test. The trouble is, can you really quote any other board that has tried to create this “genuine cricket culture”. SA also has a boxing day test and new year’s test, but they are hardly given the attention that Australia gets and are largely overshadowed by the SCG new years test. And what about England, is there an exact date/weekend for this July test, or is it just an arbitrary test inside that month? Do the West Indies, Pakistan, New Zealand, Sri Lanka or any other test playing nation all suffer from this problem? India has significant cricket culture, and rather than criticize the lack of calendar events to symbolize them, perhaps Premachandran would do well to figure out why they haven’t grabbed a slot. It could be that there is no two week common vacation around festivities in India like the afore mentioned countries (Diwali really is just a weekend), it could be that the sheer size, geographic distribution and diversity of the country creates far too many obstacles (see politics again), it could be that since India never had the privilege of guaranteed tours on particular dates like a few other nations steeped in cricketing history that there never was the occasion to fix such calendar events. Who knows, the IPL might end up being the one marquee event to dismiss all the others maybe 10 years from now. Its very easy to pick on these things that have been repeated time and time again, but its not quite as simple to analyze them and propose solutions.

    I for one am happy that Indian cricket has made exponential progress from the days of the early ’90s when everybody but a few administrators was treated shabbily. There is progress, and while not everyone might be happy that they cannot oversee and direct that progress, most have already learned that this is the way things will be done for the foreseeable future, just look at the CL’s committee and how quickly the boards that jumped aboard merged with that mindset.

  4. Cricket Bats says:

    Interesting blog article. I am not sure I agree with some of the views expressed

  5. Mocrapy says:

    Very fascinating information. I sent it to a couple of friends already! I even wish to advertise here… My blog is dedicated to NHL Xbox tournaments. Pls feel free to email me

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