Chances are, you haven’t heard these names if you stay outside their states. But Brigade Enterprises, Melmont Constructions, Fiza Developers and a few other companies and individuals expect to change the way you think about them as they seek to propel mofussil cricket into the big league.
Their inspiration is the huge commercial success of the Indian Premier League (IPL)—the cash flows it offered players, the mileage it gave team owners and the crowds the Twenty20 format attracted.
Big money is a secondary concern as the IPL’s success spawns similar leagues on a smaller scale, with the cricket bodies of Karnataka and Maharashtra cobbling together IPL-like tournaments that have attracted a new breed of franchise owners. Even districts and towns have joined the rush. Andhra Pradesh’s Karimnagar district has launched its version; so have Ranchi Municipal Corporation and Ranchi District Cricket Association in Jharkhand.
The excitement is typified by former India player Sunil Joshi, 38, who hails from the small town of Gadag and turns out for Karnataka. After the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) auctioned off players in Bangalore on August 14, Joshi, who was picked up for Rs 2.05 lakh by the Hubli-Dharwad team, said: “It’s a step ahead for rural players, many of whom never had an opportunity to show their talent to a larger audience.”
KARNATAKA PREMIER LEAGUE
Cost (Rs crore)
|B’LORE BRIGADERS||Brigade Enterprises||7.20|
|BANGALORE RURAL||Melmont Constructions||5.55|
|BELGAVI PANTHERS||Subash Enterprises||3.81|
|MYSORE MAHARAJAS||Girish Auto||3.25|
|MALNAD GLADIATORS||K. Jayaprakash Hegde||3.25|
|SHAMNUR DIAMOND||Shiv Shankarappa||3.77|
|BIJAPUR BULLS||Vivid Creations and Nandish Reddy Group||3.5|
From September 9, Bangalore's Chinnaswamy stadium is expected to draw capacity crowds of 50-60,000 as eight teams battle for the spoils (Rs 20 lakh in prize money) in the Karnataka Premier League (KPL), being organised by the KSCA.
The enthusiasm is not dampened by the Board of Control for Cricket in India's refusal to release national players for the KPL. But Joshi says: “It will give an opportunity to 24 new faces in the KPL stream.”
The Poor Cousins
The KSCA, however, is not the first to have launched a 20-20 league of their own. The Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) has already done it, roping in the Sakaal Media group for the Maharashtra Premier League (MPL) in April-May this year. The MPL, with a prize money of Rs 10 lakh, had eight franchisees who played a total of 31 matches in 14 days. But the player of the tournament had to be content with two wheels, not four: a Yamaha motorcycle. The total cost of organising and playing the games was a measly Rs 1 crore.