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Parallel Pitch

The traditional Ashes series (between England and Australia) or an India-Pakistan slugfest may no longer be the most electrifying battle to look forward in the arena of cricket.

By Anusha Subramanian        Print Edition: October 7, 2007

The traditional Ashes series (between England and Australia) or an India-Pakistan slugfest may no longer be the most electrifying battle to look forward in the arena of cricket.

What promises to be a more lip-smacking,edge-of-the-seat experience is the prospect of a fracas between the Subhash Chandra-promoted Indian Cricket League (ICL) and the Indian Premier League (IPL) that was flagged off last fortnight by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The Indian cricket board has announced the launch of its own 20:20 league to take on a similar ICL format.

Kapil Dev
Kapil Dev
 

The sparring will doubtless be engaging, what with cricketing legends like Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi in one corner (they’re on the governing council of the IPL)pitted against the likes of Kapil Dev, Kiran More and Sandeep Patil (who are on the ICL’s board).

Amongst the players roped in by the IPL are Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Stephen Fleming, with the ICL pulling in Brian Lara, Mohammed Yusuf, and Inzamam Ul Haq. The IPL is scheduled to begin by April 2008, and the ICL in a couple of months from now.

The BCCI has a grand plan for lead on to a global champions 20:20 league, on the lines of soccer’s hugely successful Champions League. Its final leg will be called the ‘Champions Twenty20 League’. As per the BCCI’s official statement, its President Lalit Modi is the convenor for the new league. (All attempts to reach Modi proved futile.)

The reaction of Kapil Dev,Chairman of the ICL’s executive board, to the formation of the IPL is predictably tactful. “I welcome the Indian board’s plans of launching an international 20:20 league. I am proud and happy that they endorse our view of 20:20 cricket. Competition is good and the cricketers are going to benefit from these leagues.”

As far as initial comparisons go, the IPL clearly seems to have the edge, backed as it is by the cashrich BCCI. And that’s evident in the bounty that’s on offer from both sides. In the ICL’s case it is $1 million, whilst the total prize money offered by the IPL will be five times that amount, the highest prize ever for a cricket event (the winners will take home $2 million).

A glance at the players roped in so far would make the IPL look more attractive, although Kapil Dev wonders aloud whether the likes of Fleming and Warne “are going to be playing in the IPL or are they just brand ambassadors?”

That may not matter too much for advertisers, most of whom are keen to stay fixated on cricket; never mind that games like hockey and football are beginning to bring in the audiences once gain.

With so much cricket slated to be played, however, the organisers may just be running the danger of throttling the golden goose.

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