The league’s ripples
February 15, 2008
The development of the IPL is interesting. It’s inevitable that it will eat into cricket elsewhere, as in the case of coaches. Greg Shipperd, of Australia, is a contender. Will cricket learn to live with two leagues? I don’t think the national game will continue to have the importance it has now. As the competition develops and expands, it’s very likely that players won’t wait till their national careers are at an end to sign up. There’s too much jhanjhat in the national game. In that sense, Lalit Modi’s designation as commissioner of the league is a pretty good call. He’s been doing the rounds to strengthen IPL’s importance on the cricketing calendar from next year on. I don’t know whether anyone seriously believes that the IPL can coexist with the ICC.
Here’s why: it has everything to do with TV. If the league was to expand, and international cricket was relegated to fewer months, as seems to be the case from next year, broadcasters would have serious problems. The guys at Ten Sports, for one, were surprised to hear that this year’s series against Sri Lanka might be the last time West Indies will play a series at home during its best season of March-June or thereabouts. Assuming that it rains less during these months, which broadcaster would be happy? If the cricket calendar has to be moved around, which I’m dead certain will happen, it will mean that the deals broadcasters brokered with various boards, including the ICC, will have fundamentally changed. If the league takes off, the other rights automatically become less important. Are ESPN-Star’s ICC rights really worth a billion bucks now? I’ll bet they’re wishing they had bid a little less for one event, and a little more for the other.