IPL….Vision 2020

October 15, 2009


As the ACLT20 explodes into a climactic Phase 2, the debris left behind includes the formidable Deccan Chargers. Whoever accused the T20 format of predictability is left to lick their wounds. What drama, what excitement!!. It is difficult to comprehend that the T20 format took so long in coming. The back to back resounding successes of IPLs I and II and now the ACLT20 opens up several intriguing possibilities about the future of “Sports Economics and their role in reversing a downturn”. It has been reliably learnt that the Convenor of the IPL has been invited by the World Economic Forum to present on how exactly the IPL and its derivatives succeeded in pulling out India from what appeared to be an interminable economic slump. The stamp of credibility that this bestows is urging even more frantic innovations like the ones below:
1. Remove the last element of predictability in the format. This is being achieved by allowing franchises to bid for players during the course of the tournament as well. A large section of the audience has taken offence to predictability of having to see, for instance, Ross Taylor playing time and again for the Royal Challengers during the course of the IPL. Since the IPL prides itself in listening to its audience, it is seriously considering doing away with such vestiges from an era gone by which impose artificial restrictions on the “portability” of players. This also ensures that members of teams that are eliminated during the course of the convoluted preliminary phase will get a chance to ply their trades irrespective of “their” teams’ fortunes. It has been logically, forcefully and eloquently argued by the IPL committee on “Innovations beyond imagination” that individual the players cannot be penalised for the dismal performance of the teams that they represent. In what would be a momentous development, it is likely that the logical culmination of this innovation will be a listing of individual players on the stock exchanges and the complete corporatization of the ICC and its vassals like the BCCI, ECB and CA.
2. In line with the best practices adopted by the other key sectors of the economy, the IPL Managing Committee, not to be outdone, has moved the Government of India and the BCCI, the most powerful extra constitutional authority anywhere in the world, for the setting up of an industry regulator along the lines of the RBI, IRDA, and TRAI. Particularly laudable that the Chief Convenor of the IPL earned his stripes with the notorious tobacco industry, congenitally indisposed towards any kind of regulatory interference. Given the criticality of the IPL to the Indian, and increasingly the cricketing world’s economy, it is rumoured that the Indian government is considering this plea with the seriousness that it deserves.
3. Taking cognizance of the fact that investment in human resources is vital to the long term viability of any industry, especially a nascent one like the IPL, the managing committee has prepared a HR Vision 2010 document. A couple of pearls that have managed to find their way into this report:
a. Creating the cricketing equivalent of an Alpha Male. Not to be confused with the Mr. Cricket sobriquet bestowed on players and currently in the possession of Mike Hussey. The Alpha Cricket male will be a player, umpire, commentator, coach, and manager all rolled into one. The long and short of this innovation is that we will see a Simon Taufel doubling up as a commentator during a match in which he is umpiring. Similarly, we will have the pleasure of listening to Sanath Jayasuriya as he prepares to smack B Akhil over the point fence. The IPL, in all its wisdom, has already identified the likes of Maninder Singh and L Siva, as “A” category prototypes as they are already masters of at least 3 of the maximum possible 8 streams . The “B” category (player plus umpire) currently has Dharmasena and Reiffel. The long short- list includes Shastri (the logic being that he can be anything that he wants to be if he sets his mind onto it), Manjrekar, the evergreen Gavaskar (he has been specifically asked to view endlessly the footage of his century against the Kiwis during WC 1987), Rameez Raja and Aamir Sohail (everything other than commentary in English), Jeremy Coney (added advantage of doubling up as a cheer leader as well), and Mandira Bedi (in preparation for a IPL (W)).
b. Since quality umpires (like almost everything) are in short supply, efforts are on to completely do away with this species by the time of the 2013 edition. Since a market survey and a subsequent focus group discussion revealed that it is essentially the batsmen that the audience is paying to see, this revolutionary step will ensure that the paying public will get precisely what they are paying for. The report goes on to warn that unless the bowlers pull up their socks they could also meet with the same fate in the times to come. In their case, their most likely replacements will be Nintendo Bowling machines. The IPL has clarified that the interest evinced by Nintendo in being the title sponsor for the JPL will not influence the final decision in this regard. The IPL Standing Committee on “Ensuring the relevance of the IPL offering in a constantly evolving and extremely dynamic and volatile market” clarified that should this improbable eventuality does arise, Anil Kumble and Shane Warne (if they have not already gracefully stepped down by then) will be appointed “domain experts” for the Nintendo Project.
Considering the far reaching implications of the proposed innovations it is only appropriate that the IPL has been advised by its well wishers to evaluate the possibility of roping in Spielberg and/ or Danny Boyle in “packaging” the IPL to a wider audience. Sane advise. This we are told is the future of cricket. Arthur C Clarke, eat your heart out.
P.S. As an added incentive for the Chief Convenor to push for these far reaching reforms, a capitalist lobby has promised him a serious shot at the Nobel Economics if there is a modicum of specious intent display from his side. No doubt, they have been encouraged by the Nobel Peace to Obama.

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