Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Coming Revolution in Indian Cricket - Part 1

These are exciting times for followers of Indian Cricket. A big bloody battle looms on the horizon, as the comfortable monopoly of the Board of Control for Cricket in India is challenged by the bold entrepreneurism of Subahash Chandra and his Zee TV network.

Historically, the BCCI has had complete control over India's domestic and international cricket programme. As the Indian cricket brand has increased exponentially in value, the Board has grown richer and fatter. They have however concentrated so far only on International Cricket, neglecting Domestic cricket. Most domestic cricket games in India are a grim affair, played to empty stadiums by essentially anonymous cricketers. The schedules and venues and formats change arbitrarily, the players from the national team rarely take part, and when players reach the national team, they seem to have turned up from nowhere. For nowhere is where domestic cricket currently is.

This is where Zee TV's ambition is so exciting and refreshing. They want to create a professional Indian Cricket League, with city-based teams and a combination of local foreign players, which will attract viewers at stadiums and on television. They want to transform the domestic game, raising its profile, and making it into a popular entertainment product. In the process, they will improve domestic cricket infrastructure, increase the employment opportunities for everyone involved in the game of cricket, and offer a great new product to Indian cricket fans.

This is a great opportunity for Indian cricket. And the BCCI is trying to strangle it at birth.

(to be continued)