Fast Forward nine years, and the IPL has all grown up to become a league that can match up to any other sporting league in the world. So much has been its success that the fledgling league barely nine-years-old has already given rise to a new one – the Mini-IPL.
Misbah-ul-Haq’s scoop shot off that final ball of the final of the inaugural World T20 set into motion things that would change world cricket forever. Just months later, the million-dollar baby–the Indian Premier League–would be born. Fast Forward nine years, and the baby has all grown up to become a league that can match up to any other sporting league in the world. So much has been its success that the fledgling league barely nine-years-old has already given rise to a new one – the Mini-IPL.
The Mini-IPL emerged as a proposal in the Indian cricketing circles last year after the BCCI scrapped the Champions League T20 - a joint venture between the boards of India, Australia, and South Africa to find the top T20 club team among the national T20 champions. However, Champions League T20 was cancelled after six years due to lukewarm interest from the fans and sponsors.
With the CLT20 shelved, a new window was open in the international cricket calendar and the cricket’s richest board wasted no time in filling the gap, with another T20 league. A smaller IPL was the perfect option, after all, the T20 league had shown that nothing can tarnish its image, even a spot-fixing scandal where cricketers and owners were arrested. However, the Lodha committee’s arrival in the picture and the suspension of Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals changed the whole picture. The plans were swept under the carpet as the BCCI looked to become the ‘good boy’ in the eyes of the Supreme Court.
A year passed, Shashank Manohar came and went, Sunrisers Hyderabad became IPL champions and the Lodha committee recommendations, which were in the headlines every day, were no longer in the public eye. Anurag Thakur, the new man at the helm of affairs for the BCCI, once again put forward the idea and if all goes to plan, the mini-IPL will make its debut come this September. But, before we even start on the concept, the question will be, do we really need another IPL?
After having consumed season after season of the ‘cricketainment’, and as a cricket fan, my answer would be a big NO.
From January 2016, the Indian cricket team has played 19 T20 matches including the World T20 and Asia Cup T20. Another 60 was played in the Indian Premier League. If the mini-IPL plan comes into effect, then it would happen in the month of September in between the Men in Blue’s four-match Test series in West Indies and New Zealand’s tour to India. Much-needed time for rest and recuperation will be taken away from the premier Indian cricketers, who have a packed schedule ahead of them with New Zealand, England, Australia all touring the country one after the other.
If the BCCI goes ahead with the plan, then all the Test regulars will be forced to take part in the one-month T20 extravaganza. It is highly unlikely that any Indian player will opt to miss the tournament to prepare for the gruelling Test series that are coming up. Even if the player wants to do it, the BCCI is not likely to allow its big guns to take a rest. And an injury to any Test regular will hamper India’s plans to get back to the top of the longer format.
Money, money, how much money?
IPL 2016 was not the most entertaining edition of the IPL, but it still amassed a total of Rs. 2,500 crore in overall revenue, said a report in the Economic Times. The official broadcaster Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) made about Rs. 1100 crore, while the eight franchisees together earned about Rs. 200-230 crore from sponsors. The IPL is an entity that is growing at double digits year after year and it is not showing any sign of slowing down even after the all the controversies. The board could pocket even more moolah once the new IPL TV deal comes into the picture at the end of the 10th edition of the tournament.
So in a time when the BCCI, the franchises, and the broadcaster are making tons of money, another league does not make much sense. Unless, you want to cash in on every given opportunity to fill the bank lockers. Money is definitely in abundance and the move by the board only signals their intention to make the most of the golden goose. Mini-IPL is likely to be held abroad, and the plan clearly points towards the board’s intention to conquer the overseas market. The board could also go in for a separate broadcaster and make a windfall out of it too. But, the question is the board killing cricket in their quest to make money?
Potential clash with the ICC and domestic tournaments
As mentioned before, September is a golden window in the international cricket calendar, when most of the top teams are not playing any bilateral series. However, BCCI is not the only one who has an eye on this window to fit in a T20 tournament. If reports are to be believed, then the ICC is also planning a once-in-two-years World Twenty20 during the same time. It is likely that both bodies will go head-to-head to claim the right to host a tourney in the window, but the need for either of those remains a big question.
Another potential stumbling block for the BCCI will be the clash with the start of the domestic season. The Duleep trophy, which will feature the pink ball, is likely to be held at the same time with big stars expected to feature. If the mini-IPL takes the slot, then Indian Test team regulars will be denied a chance to acclimatise with the pink ball before the first-ever day/night Test in the country.
It is clear that the introduction of a mini-IPL will only bring more harm to the Indian cricket than good. With the BCCI keen to rake all the moolah there is, it would not be long before the golden goose is killed.
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