Should the BCCI have a monopoly over cricket or should other tournaments like the “rebel” Indian Cricket league (ICL) also be allowed to prosper?

29 Jan 2010 by Mahendra Prasad in BCCI

Cricket in India has been governed by the BCCI since 1928. Today, we see India on the top of the cricketing world map more due to the financial power of the BCCI and not the quality of cricket. The BCCI can make the ICC; cricket’s so-called ‘most powerful governing body’ easily dance to its tunes. Therefore, in the future, it is likely that the BCCI would continue to dominate Indian as well as world cricket due to the rapid commercialization and globalisation of the sport thanks to T-20 events like the IPL which is backed by the BCCI.

So, cricket is a monopoly in India. But the question rises – Can the BCCI encourage and recognize new talent in the long-run on its own? Here come the basics of economics. Today, most economies across the world are either mixed or free-market economies. The belief that only the government can help bolster an economy is no longer accepted by economists and intellectuals.

Similarly, when it comes to Indian cricket, the BCCI must look to privatize cricket with the help of the IPL where corporate honchos such as GMR or Reliance could be encouraged to form their own four-day teams and an annual competition could be held in all formats of the game.

The franchise which produces the best results in the three formats on aggregate could be named champions of Indian cricket. Or, perhaps private leagues such as the ICL could be allowed to prosper as tournaments like the IPL and the Ranji Trophy might not bring the best out of players nor they would be noted by the BCCI for being potential players for India in the future. It is only a monopolistically competitive market which succeeds in the long-run.

The BCCI could continue to rule Indian cricket but they could encourage competition as competition is healthy and usually brings out the best of the players. Since, the IPL is BCCI’S brain child it could probably be for the international established players. The ICL could act as a stepping stone to reach the IPL.

Having said that, the BCCI is the best when it comes to handling cricketing affairs due to its experience and the fact that it can survive easily due to greater profits, like an established enterprise. Unlike the ICL, which could hardly make an impact in a span of two years. There are no questions about the IPL being a raging success and the ICL a failure. The BCCI have already asked the ICC for a window in the FTP (Future tours Programme) to accommodate the IPL.

If given the window, other cricketing boards would come up with their own lucrative cricket league and would demand a window too thus destroying the FTP. This would be horribly unfair to other cricket boards. So, when it comes to world cricket, definitely the ICC has to take a tough call on the BCCI’s dominance. However, if in the future other boards do come up with lucrative cash-rich leagues like the IPL then it would be better for the ICC to either take control by having a window for 2-3 franchisees from each country thus not jeopardising the FTP.

But in Indian cricket, the BCCI can do well as a monopoly as long as it removes money as their top priority. BCCI officials need to understand that excellence is the way of making profits. Focus needs to be on strategising of India’s success as a team which produces better cricket than other teams, rather than have being paid a lot of money undeservingly.

BCCI must have former cricketers who have played for India as these players would have the reverence and love for their country rather than the desire to earn money. Otherwise, it is time that Indian cricket becomes an economy in transition which will be mixed in the long-run. And this is possible if the sports ministry of India does intervene if they want cricket to remain the No.1 sport of the country.

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