Best of India vs Best of Pakistan

I have a dream. I get back from work at 6 pm (someday, that will be possible in Bangalore!), get fresh, turn on my TV and jump to a sports channel. A match between Bangalore Bombers and Mumbai Marathas is on! Munaf Patel and Andrew Flintoff open the bowling for Marathas, and Rahul Dravid and Andrew Symonds open for Bangalore. Watching from the stands are famous personalities with last names Mallya, Bachchan and Khan. The stands are overflowing with people, and ads like “Britannia Khao, Goa jao” are flying past my TV screen.

How do you like UEFA Champions league? Even if you are not a football (or soccer) fan, chances are you have heard of it. How about the FA cup? Hope you know about this premier ‘import’ from England, thanks to the marketing blitz on TV.

But when the best team of cricket-crazy India played a match with the best team from cricket-mad Pakistan to decide a champion of the subcontinent, there was no such marketing on TV. Forget coverage on TV, there wasn’t even an ‘official’ mention of the event (BCCI is still in the process of putting up its website). And these star studded (Mohd Asif, Suresh Raina, Mohd Kaif, Shoaib Malik, R P Singh, Piyush Chawla, Imran Nazir) teams played at a venue so obscure that they had to sit through a 10 hour bus ride to get there. And that bus ride made their key players fall sick on reaching the venue. Uttar Pradesh beat Sialkot with a handsome margin, but notice the absence of Mohd Kaif (out sick), and Sialkot’s 2nd innings scorecard (3 players sick midway during the match).

Now, I know you got questions about my dream. That match starts at 6 pm because of an “I respect viewer’s time” format – any variation of the Twenty20 thing. Andrew Symonds plays for Bangalore because 20 million fan-strong Bombers contract gives him more money than 5 million TV viewers of Queensland can ever pool and provide. And let us say that Andrew Flintoff is doing it because he truly loves Kingfisher bottled water :)

So, when will my dream come true? Soccer has Euro cup, a hugely popular World Cup, and still has a bunch of very successful national leagues. We have more cricket fanatics in our subcontinent than all of Europe’s soccer fans combined, yet, not one truly successful and commercial domestic setup? Money is here, so are hundreds of potential stars hiding in the streets, but India only has 10 to 20 cricket stars at any given moment, why?

I don’t really like these internationals played around the year. ICC Champions trophy drama every 12 months, then various bilateral and trilateral series, and once in a while, a World Cup. I don’t need this needless tension and international politics so frequently. I don’t want to get up at 4 am, and bunk college or work to catch good cricket on TV.

Just give me my Bangalore Bombers versus Mumbai Marathas and a 6 pm start, will you.

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7 Responses

  1. Do you read rec.sport.cricket newsgroup by any chance? :-) Some of us have been arguing for a tournament like this for quite some time there. Check out this thread

  2. Mohan, I didn’t know about that cricket newsgroup, but I did react positively to Jagmohan Dalmiya’s Corporate Cup suggestion back in 2003. It turned out to be an idea, thats all.

    One problem is managing schedules. How do you plan a premier domestic cricket season, and yet keep all your international commitments? Ideally, you want to go to state where you play a few internationals every year, but the tests/ODIs/20-20s have minimal overlap with domestic seasons of the two playing countries. It’d help if the game had enough stars to support several quality domestic sides (“clubs”) as well as a national team. And that, I think is definitely possible.

    The time is now. Nimbus could try it with their newly launched cricket channel “Neo”. Try a twenty20 tournament exclusively on Neo. Do it either by ‘leasing’ players from BCCI and state associations, or by doing a “reality” show to discover talent from smaller cities and villages.

    Sounds tight, but is very doable. Because there is a big market waiting for it. 200 quality cricketers and 500 million viewers can support 2-3 international series and a domestic league at the same time. And we have enough “soft” divisions in the country (language + region) to build and sustain good rivalries :)

  3. Silkboard, indeed. If you exploit the inherent divisions in the country and build teams around it, you can develop the kind of rivalry which could make even India-Pakistan a tame affair! Most important benefit of such a system is that the money generated by those contests stays within the country. As of now, all the boards world over are making money from Indian market. India goes and plays a series outside and the host board makes a cool $150 million per series by selling those matches to the vast Indian audience. Or India plays a world cup and stupid ICC makes mega bucks of which BCCI gets only a pittance back. Most of the boards like NZ, WI, SL etc are surviving mostly by the money they make by hosting India or from the handouts from ICC. I don’t see any reason why we should sustain cricket world over. Let us play among ourselves, just pay the top cricketers a decent amount so that they come and play here and let’s watch the fun.

  4. Thanks for the support Mohan. Wish we had the money and clout to start this as a ‘business’ ourselves. Don’t you too? Dreams are dreams.

    BTW, Salil, over there at rec.sport.cricket worries about me mentioning Symonds as an opener (not even in 20-20, and with Dravid as a partner? And you dont mind Dravid himself?). Fair point, so let me replace him with Adam Gilchrist in that ‘dream’.

  5. Coincidence or what, Cricinfo reports that “the foreign cast” is in the works.

  6. […] of that simply because I am going to put in a good word for Neo here. If you read either of this (Best vs Best), this (MLB vs BCCI) or that (Hoysalas vs Bulls), my dreams of a glamorous, popular and […]

  7. […] dream (expressed here back in Sep 06) is about to come true. I will have my Mumbai Locals vs Bangalore Drivers (pardon […]

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