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International Cricket As We Know It Is Already Dead

by achettup

The Bangladesh Cricket Board has announced that the first edition of the Bangladesh Premier League will commence from the 9th of February, 2012. The tournament appears to be modelled along the same lines as the Indian Premier League, even rather unnecessarily incorporating the (now discontinued) concept of "icon" players, which was only employed in the IPL to retain the biggest stars from the rival ICL. The same standard T20 international bunch appear to be available. A new sports channel will broadcast the tournament in Bangladesh. Arun Lal, here after referred to as captain-flipping-the-bird-obvious, said "The main thing is that the Bangladeshi players have to be available." Fancy that, you wouldn't want it to just be the 25 international mercenaries playing now, would you?

Take a step back and put yourselves in the shoes of a Bangladeshi cricket administrator. Your team never really deserved Test status, but well, here we are. They have the worst record for any national side, are currently at the bottom of the ICC rankings and have hardly displayed any improvement since their inception. The logical thing to do therefore, is to make sure you're not left behind in the T20 leagues where everybody else is going to be making money. I mean, after all, what is your role as cricket administrator of the country if not to oversee governance of the sport, ensure that you produce cricketers of international calibre who are capable of competing with the best? But whats in it for you, potentially honorable member, apart from maybe getting a few business contracts for your firm while doing this charitable work?

Now take a step back and look at how the pervasive nature of this greed has gripped cricket administrators the world over. Virtually every cricket board has already designed, if not implemented, a T20 league which will eventually become the staple of cricket for that country. Test cricket fans moan about how this will affect the premier format of the game, but they are blind, romantic and ultimately stupid. Sorry! It isn't Test cricket that is threatened, it is international cricket. And it isn't threatened, its already dead. With much the same confidence as the banker who says "I see nothing wrong with hedging against CDO we're selling to investors" we've got cricket administrators pulling the wool over our collective eyes with false promises such as "There is room for all three formats."

What a laugh, there will be only one format in 10 years, and only one international tournament, a T20 world cup. They all know this, they recognized its inevitability the instant the IPL was a success despite the ICL getting the jump on it. They knew too that here was an opportunity staring them in the face, and to not grasp it while in a position of power on their board would be to lose the chance to someone more enterprising, a quite costly business opportunity lost and life only hands you so many. All of this was well known even before the ICL was launched, when Lalit Modi had already drawn out plans for a city based T20 league, but just needed the right moment to get the dinosaurs in the BCCI to understand how profitable and undeniably destined the future of cricket was to be. The current models had already shown themselves to be unsustainable, and while you can only shaft the viewer so much with ads to bag obscenely priced TV contracts, national fervour can only really throw high profits your way for marquee events, and that too only if they go to script. You need something more sustainable, a commodity that will appeal to the masses over a longer term while not ensuring that the only people who can realistically follow it enough are those employed to cover it.

T20 was that commodity, trialled immediately after broadcasters incurred massive losses following India's early exit from the 2007 World Cup. There will always be whispers about how the following T20 World Cup's script was almost too perfect to be true. It certainly was for the games administrators, as a swooned public fell hook, line and sinker for the crucial test to see if the new format would catch on. Zee knew they had to act fast, but their loss of the contract and subsequent action has been well chronicled. This paradigm shift shook the cricketing world far more than any match-fixing scandal ever can. In order to run a league, you needed to be legit. Boards regulated cricket and so they had the rightful claim to organize and manage the finances for this commercial venture. Any and everyone else was banned.

In the ideal scenario, different countries will host different leagues at different times of the year. Much the same way crass sport management has devolved and dehumanized baseball, basketball and "football" (who actually follows any of the international games in these sports, oh thats right, apart from the Olympics, there aren't any), cricket's aping administrators seek to destroy international cricket. Its a right bloody mess anyway, with all that political manoeuvring to appease egoistic puppets appointed by governments to manage sporting boards. No, having your individual fiefdom is a lot more profitable, and if everyone shares everyone's resources carefully, there's enough moolah to go around to everyone (case in point, the bending over backwards of certain boards to ensure the success of the Champions League T20). Eventually you'll end up with the sport looking not too dissimilar to football, the real kind, one world cup where national emotion can be vented every once in a while. To the uncreative aping administrators this only seems logical, it works well in other sports doesn't it, why must cricket be left behind in the dark ages?

You think you can change this? Hah! The world's got far more pressing concerns. Protests if any, will be as futile as the Occupy movements. Who regulates the game? Take a look at the shambolic state of broadcasts in the subcontinent, where some fat cat twerp says "I see NO problem in L shaped ads popping up during the game." You couldn't be bothered stepping up and demanding that you get a quality product for parting with your hard earned money then, now you've let them say "this is how you're going to like what we're going to give you, and you're going to be paying us more over time than you ever did before, and if you don't like it you'll have to learn to because its all you're going to get." Take a look at the way Ashes series are scheduled and broadcast. World cricket is a mess, and nobody really wants to govern it any more. Administrators who should have been looking to preserve the game's history and heritage, while promoting the game's proliferation have taken keen interest in petty fights that throw out associates so as to preserve the revenues of the powerful boards. Where there was supposed to be governance, there is only greed. Greed (at least for a short while) is good for the few, harmful for the many, for it after all comes at their cost. If you liked international cricket, I'd recommend you learn to move on quickly. If not to the T20 leagues, to another sport.

1 comment:

Big Ramifications said...

There should be one player that has to play nude when fielding.

Umpires must be nude. On cold days they can wear a jumper or 2, but must be nude from the waist down.

Third umpire must be nude and on TV we must see many shots of him in his little room, just like we see with Aussie Rules coaches during AFL telecasts.