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Man Walking Away In The Sunset

Will A Farewell XI vs. Kohli’s XI Take Place After IPL2020?

Most Indian cricket players of the past have usually followed the trend of announcing their retirement before their final few games. This allowed the BCCI and Team India to give them a fitting farewell and also for the fans to bid them an emotional goodbye.

Who can forget Sachin Tendulkar being carried on the shoulders of his teammates after his final game or Sourav Ganguly getting a standing ovation as he bid goodbye? However, some players in recent years have bucked that trend and chose to retire without getting the chance at a final game or a fitting farewell.

Why Did The Retirement Process Change?

Some of these players did not get a chance to play their final game because they were dropped from the squad due to poor performances and never selected again. Players like Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, and Suresh Raina always believed they had a few games left in them and could make a comeback.

That did not work out as the selectors decided to move on from these players, who were already at the end of their careers. They were forced to retire as they knew they would never play for India again. MS Dhoni could also fall in this category as there was talk of him playing the T20 World Cup in 2020 and then calling it time on his career. However, the COVID-19 situation saw the T20 World Cup being postponed to 2021, and Dhoni announcing his retirement on Instagram.

Give Ex-Players A Farewell XI Game

Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren has called on the BCCI to pay honour to MS Dhoni, who hails from Jharkhand. CM Soren wants MS Dhoni to wear the blue jersey one last time and play a game in Jharkhand in front of his home fans. CM Soren made an emotional plea stating that millions of fans want to see MS Dhoni in blue again and show him the love they have for him one last time.

Irfan Pathan also believes it is fitting to give former players a fitting send-off. However, Pathan is not calling for an official ODI to take place but for a charity game between the current Indian team led by Virat Kohli and a Farewell XI. Pathan has called on the BCCI to make this happen once the 2020 IPL is finished.

The Farewell XI Squad

Pathan said that there was a long list of players who retired recently who the fans wanted to see one last time. Pathan said the BCCI could have done a better job in managing the careers of Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh and Virender Sehwag better. He feels they should have been told that they were not going to be considered for selection from now on and given a chance to retire on the cricket field.

The former all-rounder said the Farewell XI would consist of one of India’s best opening pairs coming together for the last time. Virender Sehwag will open with Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid will take his spot at number 3. VVS Laxman will slot in at number 4 followed by the dynamic Yuvraj Singh at 5.

Suresh Raina, who recently retired with MS Dhoni, will come in at number 6, and MS Dhoni will captain the side and slot in at number 7. Pathan puts himself in at 8 as the all-rounder, followed by the bowlers. Ajit Agarkar will get a chance to say goodbye and come in at number 9, Zaheer Khan will come in at 10, and the final spot will go to Harbhajan Singh while left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha will slot in as the 12th man.

T20 or ODI Format?

There is no indication as to whether this Farewell XI vs. India XI game will be an ODI or a T20 game. The BCCI has also not answered CM Soren’s request to host a special game for Dhoni, nor was there an answer given to Pathan’s call for a Farwell XI game.

The BCCI currently has its hands full trying to get the 2020 IPL up and running successfully in the UAE. It is also interesting to note that players like Rahul Dravid, Zaheer Khan, and Ajit Agarkar have not made any remarks so far regarding the proposed farewell game.  

Suppose the fans start putting pressure on social media and calling for a Farewell XI vs. India XI game during the next few weeks, the BCCI will be forced to reply and either put an end to the suggestion or get around to organizing this charity farewell game.

Puppeteer

Will Match Fixers Will Use Social Media To Fix 2020 IPL?

The BCCI has somehow managed to schedule the 2020 IPL amid the on-going coronavirus pandemic. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is set to host the 2020 IPL from Sep 19 to Nov 10 across stadiums in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah.

The IPL is the richest cricketing domestic T20 tournament in the world and continues to attract match-fixers like bees to honey. The IPL over the years has had its fair share of match-fixing incidents, which resulted in the suspension of both cricketers and IPL franchises Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals.

IPL and UAE Great Combination For Match Fixing

The UAE has also been a hotbed for match-fixing over the years as the notorious don Dawood Ibrahim has used the UAE as his base for many years and allegedly ran one of the biggest match-fixing rackets in the UAE and around the world.

There have been numerous warrants out for Dawood Ibrahim’s arrest, but he has managed to avoid the authorities and keep out of the limelight in recent times. However, rumors suggest that Ibrahim continues to run his crime syndicate and is actively involved in getting his soldiers to fix games.

Bringing the IPL to the UAE is a positive for the BCCI. If the 2020 IPL was canceled, the BCCI would have lost close to $500 million in revenue. However, bringing the IPL to the UAE also sets the stage for match-fixers to get a lot closer to the players and tempt them with big money.

BCCI ACU Says Bio-Bubble Will Help

The BCCI Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) will have their hands full during the 2020 IPL as they are fully aware that there will be attempts to fix games throughout the IPL. Ajit Singh, who heads the BCCI ACU, is aware of the match-fixing threat but believes that due to the bio-bubble, the threat will significantly reduce.

The IPL governing body will look to create a bio-bubble similar to what the NFL and NBA have done in America for their leagues. The IPL will create three bio-bubbles in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah, where players, coaches, and support staff will not be allowed to exit their bubbles throughout the IPL.

The reason for the bio-bubble is to restrict access and exposure to individuals who are not part of the IPL setup. The bio-bubble is expected to keep players and staff a lot more secure from being exposed to the coronavirus. This restricted access within the bio-bubble is what the ACU is banking on to reduce the exposure to match-fixers as unknown individuals will not be allowed to enter the bubble.

Social Media Will Be Monitored

Singh believes the main access that match-fixers will have to IPL players will be via social media. Since unknown individuals will not be able to enter the bio-bubble, match-fixers will have to take the social media route to gain access to players. The ACU has confirmed that it will be keeping a close watch on all digital interactions of the players during the 2020 IPL.

Since the players are going to be confined to their hotel rooms most of the time, you can expect IPL players to be spending a lot more time on their social media accounts. The ACU will once again be providing players with social media education and letting them know how easy it is for an ‘innocent fan’ to approach them with an ‘offer’ suddenly.

The ACU will also have its work cut out as the team will be keeping a close watch on all betting markets to see if there is any unusual activity on IPL games. This is one clear way to find out if anything fishy is taking place.

Each IPL Team Gets 2 Liaison Officers

After the IPL match-fixing scandal in 2013, each IPL franchise was given an integrity officer who was responsible for vetting, who the players met during the IPL. The integrity officer would report any suspicious incidents to the ACU.

There will be no integrity officer during the 2020 IPL since players will be in the bio-bubble. The ACU has decided to have 2 security liaison officers for each IPL franchise who will stay at the team hotel and also travel together with the team for training practices and on match days. Singh confirmed that his ACU teams are well prepared and equipped to ensure that the 2020 IPL is free from match-fixing. They are so confident that they have declined to have any help from the ICC ACU team.

Vivo Cancels Sponsorship

IPL Struggling To Find Main Sponsor As Jio Declines

The IPL is the richest domestic T20 league in the world and watched by over a billion cricket fans predominantly in India but also around the world. There has always been a lot of competition to secure sponsorship rights of the IPL and the BCCI has made millions of dollars over the years via its IPL sponsorship contract.

VIVO Dumps BCCI

The Indian public called on the BCCI earlier this year to review its sponsorship ties with Chinese companies based on the fallout between India and China that resulted in the death of Indian soldiers. The BCCI yielded to that pressure because the main sponsor of the IPL was Chinese phone manufacturer Vivo.

Vivo had paid a whopping 240 crore rupees to the BCCI in 2018 to secure a 5-year deal from 2018 to 2022. The BCCI wasn’t very keen on dropping Vivo as its main title sponsor and pacified the Indian public by saying that it would review its entire list of Chinese sponsors once their contracts were over. The BCCI would later go on to confirm that Vivo would continue to be the main sponsor for the 2020 IPL which is scheduled to take place in the UAE from Sep 19 to Nov 10.

However, just a couple of days after the BCCI confirmed this news, Vivo made a surprising announcement and confirmed that it would no longer sponsor the IPL. The Chinese company was also facing social media pressure in China about sponsoring Indian sporting leagues. As a result, Vivo decided to opt-out of sponsoring the 2020 IPL. Vivo also terminated its sponsorship ties with the Pro Kabaddi League in India and popular reality TV show Bigg Boss.

BCCI Struggling To Find New Sponsor

Vivo’s sudden decision to not sponsor the 2020 IPL has been a slap in the face for the BCCI because it showed the Indian public that the BCCI put finances over the nation and backed its Chinese sponsor, but the Chinese sponsor put China over its finances and pulled out.

The BCCI is now desperately looking to find a main sponsor for 2020, and time to do so is limited. There will normally be no shortage of sponsors for the IPL, but market conditions are not great due to COVID-19, and hence it is not easy for the BCCI to find a sponsor who is willing to pay similar money to what Vivo was paying.

To put things in perspective, DLF sponsored the first 5 years of the IPL and paid 40 crore rupees per year. PepsiCo took up the sponsorship role for the next 5 years and ended up paying double the price at 80 crores per year. PepsiCO exited after 4 years and Vivo came on the scene paying the same price as PepsiCO.

The BCCI signed a massive 5 year deal with Vivo for the 2018 to 2022 contract by paying 440 crores per year which none of the other sponsors could match. Now that Vivo has backed out, the BCCI not only needs to find a sponsor who can pay the same amount but also find a company that is willing to pour in so much cash with a COVID-19 impacted market.

Jio Backs Out

Reports suggest that the BCCI has reached out to Mukesh Ambani’s Jio to see if they will step in and take Vivo’s place, but a representative of the Mumbai Indians (which is owned by Mukesh Ambani) claimed that Jio was not interested in being the main IPL sponsor at this point.

The BCCI has also put out feelers to a number of its other sponsors to see if any of them would be interested in being the IPL main sponsor. Companies like Tata Motors and Dream11 who are associated partners of the IPL were not interested nor was PayTM who sponsors all home series games.

Will Amazon Step Up?

With the 2020 IPL fast approaching, the pressure is on the BCCI to sign a sponsor quickly. Amazon might be the only company at this point who has the money to be able to step up and secure sponsorship rights. The question is, will Amazon step up and will they be willing to pay the same amount as Vivo? There are also rumours that the BCCI might not sign a main sponsor for the 2020 IPL and absorb the financial fallout and get Vivo back again in 2021. We will have to wait for another week or two to see how it all plays out.

Cricket Field

BCCI Releases 100 Page SOP For 2020 IPL in UAE

The BCCI brass spent a long time deliberating and putting together the standard operating procedures (SOPs) that will need to be followed during the 2020 IPL in the UAE. The BCCI got together on 02 August and released a detailed SOP that IPL franchises and teams will need to follow at all times. The 2020 IPL is scheduled to take place from 19 Sep to November 10.

2020 IPL – Match Schedule

IPL fans will be interested to know that the 2020 IPL will be the longest in the history of the 8-team format. This IPL edition will last for 53 days and 10 of these days will feature double header matches. The tournament organizers have tried not to schedule too many double headers because the afternoon games will be played in intense heat in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai.

The night games are scheduled to take place from 7.30 pm IST which is 6 pm UAE time and the afternoon games will take place from 3.30 IST which is at 2 pm UAE time. The first stage of the IPL will be played in empty stadiums but the second stage of the IPL could see fans in attendance as the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) is keen on filling the stadiums to atleast 50 percent capacity.

The SOP has confirmed that IPL franchises will be able to tour with a max of 24 players per squad. There will also be an unlimited number of COVID-19 substitutes allowed. The 24 limit player squad could pose a challenge for three IPL franchises (Rajasthan Royals, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab) as all of them have listed a 25 member squad on their websites.

IPL Will Continue With Vivo As Main Sponsor

The on-going tensions between India and China have resulted in a push for Indian companies to sever ties Chinese companies and for Indians to stop using Chinese branded products. The Indian government banned over 50 Chinese apps from being used in India including the popular TikTok app.

The BCCI also decided to look into its sponsorship deals given the fact that its chief sponsor VIVO which is a Chinese mobile company. Given the fact that the BCCI gets handsomely paid by VIVO for its sponsorship contract, the BCCI has decided to continue to allow VIVO to be the main sponsor for the 2020 VIVO IPL.

This does not come as a surprise as the BCCI would have lost millions of dollars and also been taken to court if it decided to severe ties with VIVO before its sponsorship contract came to an end. The BCCI has promised to relook at things once the contract is finished.

Key Points In The IPL SOP

The IPL SOP has a lot of rules and regulations to ensure player safety and well-being. The SOP makes it clear to IPL franchises and players that despite all of the SOPs there is risk involved in playing the 2020 IPL and it will be up to each individual to accept this risk and sign a consent form.

The BCCI is looking to create a bio-bubble in the UAE similar to what the NBA is doing in Florida, USA. Once players enter the bio-bubble they will not be able to leave the bubble until the IPL is finished.

Strict regulations and protocols will have to be followed at all times in the bio-bubble not only by the players but also by the support staff, IPL commentators and everyone involved in the 2020 IPL. The BCCI will also work with the ECB to ensure that all hotel staff and restaurant staff are COVID-19 negative before they interact with IPL players and staff.

Wives and girlfriends (WAGs) are usually part of each IPL edition but this time around the BCCI is not very keen on having the WAGs on tour. The BCCI will discuss the same with each IPL franchise as it will be up to each IPL franchise to ensure the safety and protection of the WAGs.

Discussion With IPL Franchises

The BCCI and IPL governing body will meet with IPL franchises to discuss the SOPs in detail as IPL franchises are bound to have a long list of questions regarding the SOPs. Once the BCCI clarifies all of these questions, the IPL franchises will then have to download the same to their players. We must also point out that the BCCI is yet to get official approval from the central government to proceed with the 2020 IPL in the UAE. However, this appears to be a formality given the strong political ties that the BCCI has with the ruling government.

Did The Bcci Pull Strings

Did The BCCI Pull Strings To Cancel T20 World Cup For IPL?

Earlier this week, the BCCI officially confirmed all of the rumours that had been circulating around. The 2020 IPL will take place in the United Arab Emirates but it will not commence from September 26 as some claimed.

The IPL will run from Sep 19 and finish on Nov 8 in order to give the Indian team sufficient time to travel to Australia and quarantine for 14 days before their tour down under begins. The 2020 IPL can take place during September and November because the ICC and Cricket Australia postponed the T20 World Cup which was scheduled to take place in October.

Cricket players are a tad disappointed that the T20 World Cup will not take place this year but they are more than happy to see the IPL rescheduled during this slot as all of the IPL players will pocket a nice chunk of cash which they would have missed out on had the IPL been cancelled this year.

Shoaib Akhtar Accuses BCCI of Manipulation

Pakistan will not be happy with the way things played out because their cricketers are not allowed to play in the IPL due to the on-going tensions between Pakistan and India. This literally means that Pakistani cricketers will be out of work.

Former Pakistani fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar is not impressed with the way things have played out and he has alleged that the BCCI has used its financial clout once again to get its way. Akhtar believes that the BCCI pulled strings to put pressure on the ICC and Cricket Australia to not proceed with the T20 World Cup as the BCCI had to free up this cricketing window to reschedule the 2020 IPL.

The IPL is the cash cow for the BCCI and each edition brings in nearly $500 million in revenues. If the T20 World Cup was not cancelled, it would have been very difficult for the BCCI to have rescheduled the IPL this year because the tournament has to take place during a 45 to 50 day window when there is little to no international cricketing being played so that overseas players can participate in the IPL.

Akhtar said the BCCI not only used its power to cancel the T20 World Cup but did the same thing and got the Asia Cup cancelled as well. Pakistan was supposed to host the 2020 Asia Cup in September but it was cancelled earlier this month. The ‘Rawalpindi Express’ lashed out at the BCCI and said that it was clear that they wanted to protect the IPL at all costs which is why they pulled strings behind the scenes to cancel the Asia Cup and T20 World Cup.

Is There Any Truth To Akhtar’s Allegations?

Shoaib Akhtar was a fiery character on the field and always had a mouthful for the batsmen apart from his express pace. His character hasn’t changed as he often has these outbursts on social media and has a go at India and Indian cricketers.

It is quite easy to dismiss his allegations against the BCCI as baseless and label it as an emotional outburst. However, if we take out the emotion and have a closer look at his remarks – is there a shred of truth amongst his remarks or is everything baseless?

There is no doubt that the BCCI is the biggest hitter in world cricket because it brings in nearly 80 percent of revenue that the ICC generates. With so much financial clout, the BCCI has used its position to pressure other ICC members as well as the ICC in the past and get its way.

Akhtar might have a valid point when he says that the Asia Cup was postponed because the BCCI wasn’t very keen to be a part of it. If you take out India from the Asia Cup, you lose a billion fans and the tournament becomes rather lacklustre. If the Asia Cup had to take place as per plan in September, it would have made it difficult for the IPL to be scheduled from Sep 19. If the BCCI backed the Asia Cup, it would have taken place and hence Akhtar is correct in this regard.

However, to say that the BCCI managed to get its way and get the ICC and Cricket Australia to concede the T20 World Cup in favour of the IPL is a bit of a stretch. This is because Australia is battling COVID-19 cases and Victoria has been forced to go into another lockdown. This is something that the BCCI cannot be held responsible for.

It looks like the BCCI has pulled strings but also a number of other factors also fell into place to make the 2020 IPL possible!

United Arab Emirates Hosting 2020 Ipl

United Arab Emirates To Play Host To 2020 IPL In September

The BCCI has been waiting patiently for the ICC and Cricket Australia to confirm whether the T20 World Cup will take place in Australia in October. Since the 2020 IPL was postponed due to the corona virus pandemic, the BCCI has been looking for a potential window for the IPL to take place before the end of 2020 and the T20 World Cup cancellation would give them a perfect window of opportunity.

T20 World Cup Unofficially Cancelled

Just when it looked like Australia was in the process of getting things under control, the state of Victoria had to go back into a 6-week lockdown mode due to another outbreak of COVID. This news does not favour the chances of the T20 World Cup taking place as there are too many hurdles to address in too short a time. The BCCI certainly thinks so which is why they are now prepared to host the 2020 IPL from September to November.

It looks like it is just a matter of time before the ICC and Cricket Australia confirm the cancellation of the T20 World Cup.

Asia Cup Officially Cancelled

While we wait for official confirmation of the T20 World Cup cancellation, it is clear that the Asia Cup is cancelled. The Asia Cup was scheduled to take place in September but the BCCI was keen to scrap the tournament and get the IPL underway.

Given the financial clout that the BCCI has, all of the other Asian countries except Pakistan were okay with the cancellation of the Asia Cup. The BCCI stands to lose nearly 4 thousand crore rupees if the IPL does not take place this year.

The players will not be upset with the cancellation of the T20 World Cup or the Asia Cup as they know they will make a lot more money if they play in a full edition of the IPL.

2020 IPL Will Take Place In The UAE

The BCCI has been looking at alternative venues and has received proposals from South Africa, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to host the IPL.

The BCCI has decided to go with the UAE who will now play host to the 2020 IPL. As many as three venues are expected to be used for the IPL and these include Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Reports suggest that the 2020 IPL will start on September 26 and finish on November 8.

All IPL games will take place in front of empty seats as the IPL governing body will not put the players or the fans at risk. While the IPL will lose out on the gate for each match, they will be okay to absorb the loss and the bulk of the revenue is made from television.

This is not the first time that the UAE will be playing host to the IPL as the first leg of the 2014 IPL took place in the UAE. This time around, the entire 2020 IPL will be held in the UAE.

Indian Players Will Arrive Early

Indian cricketers have been confined to their homes for over 3 months as India continues to battle COVID-19. It looks highly unlikely that they will be able to have a proper training camp in India anytime soon.

The BCCI has worked out arrangements with the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) that will allow Indian players to arrive nearly a month before the 2020 IPL starts. They will have full access to all training facilities in the UAE and go through a month long camp. A total of 35 Indian players are expected to show up to this training camp.

Overseas players will join the camp later as countries like England and the West Indies are currently playing international cricket and will be match ready. IPL franchises have a lot of work to do in the lead up to the tournament as they will have to take care of travel arrangements, hotel arrangements and player safety.

UAE Confident Of Hosting Successful IPL

Abu Dhabi welcomed the UFC – which is the number one MMA promotion in the world in July and helped them pull off three back to back fight cards in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The IPL is a much bigger tournament but the UAE is confident of hosting a successful IPL because has the infrastructure and resources to pull of this month and a half long mega event. The biggest concern for players will not be logistics or safety but being able to play in super-hot conditions. We will have to wait for a schedule of matches to be released.

Implementing New Laws

India Urged To Pass Legislation To Criminalize Match Fixing

While cricket has surged in popularity with the introduction of T20 cricket over a decade ago and brought in millions of new fans around the world, a large number of fans have stopped watching the game. Die-hard cricket fans have been jaded by the numerous match fixing scandals that have rocked the cricketing world in the last two decades.

India continues to be a major hub for match fixing in cricket and T20 cricket tends to be one of the main targets. The Indian Premier League (IPL), Karnataka Premier League (KPL) and the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) have all been tainted with match fixing allegations over the years.

The BCCI’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) has its hands full with multiple investigations to pursue plus the task of keeping a vigilant eye on current market situations as India gets ready to resume international cricketing action.

ICC ACU Head Urges For Law To Be Passed Quickly

The ICC’s ACU has been under even more pressure in recent years as there are multiple cases and leads that Steve Richardson and his team have to pursue. Richardson has called on the Indian government to help clean up match fixing in cricket by passing new legislation that will make match fixing a criminal offense.

Current laws in India ban any form of sports betting and anyone found placing an illegal bet can be arrested but if someone is found offering a bribe to a player to fix a match, they cannot be arrested as there is no clear law regarding match fixing.

This grey area is one of the reasons why match fixers are so bold to approach players and fix matches. Richardson believes that with India set to host the T20 World Cup in 2021 and the ICC World Cup in 2023, there is going to be a lot of attempts at match fixing in the coming years. He wants the Indian government to not only pass a law to criminalize match fixing but to pass the law quickly so that the authorities have more power to arrest and prosecute match fixers.

Richardson said that he had information concerning around 10 individuals who were serial match fixers in India but wasn’t too keen on sharing that information with the Indian authorities as he was aware the authorities cannot do much given the current legal framework concerning match fixing.

BCCI ACU Making A Difference

The BCCI ACU also supported the stance of Richardson and said the laws would significantly help them reduce corruption in the sport. ACU head Ajit Singh knows fully well how the TNPL and KPL have been tarnished due to the match fixing scandals that rocked these state T20 leagues.

When the ACU was commissioned to oversee these state T20 leagues, the match fixing scandals were highlighted. Indian cricket has seen match fixing at the highest level as witnessed by the suspension of the Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals franchises.

Singh believes at this point in time the ACU is working backwards looking to find match fixers and investigate suspicious games. A law criminalizing match fixing will help to discourage match fixers from openly going after players and make the work of the ACU a lot easier.

Notorious match fixer Ravinder Dandiwal was arrested in early July in Punjab. The BCCI ACU was the one who highlighted Dandiwal’s suspicious activities after he streamed a local T20 match in Mumbai and promoted it as a game played in Sri Lanka. This was a big catch for the ACU as they had been after Dandiwal since 2016.

ICC Can Work With Indian Government

Sri Lanka is currently the only cricketing nation to have put in place a law that criminalizes match fixing. The ICC and the Sri Lankan government worked together to come up with this law which hands out a 10 year prison sentence to match fixers. The law has been in place since 2019.

India being the biggest and most powerful cricketing nation in the world needs to take a leaf out of Sri Lanka’s book and pass a similar law. If India does listen to the pleas of the ICC and BCCI ACU, it will encourage other cricket playing nations to follow suit and protect the game of cricket from the evil of match fixing.

BCCI President Sourav Ganguly has strong political contacts to the current government but has so far not made it a priority to tackle match fixing during his term.

Commentator

Star India Says Color Commentary Must Be Added To Broadcast

Cricket in India is the most popular sport by a country mile and the lack of cricket during the last three months has caused a lot of disappointment throughout the nation. As of now, it is hard to predict when Indian cricket will resume due to the on-going lockdown.

Star India Shares Ideas To Improve Viewership

Star India which is the host broadcaster for all cricket in India is airing a number of old games to keep the fans happy. Star India signed a 5 year host broadcaster deal in 2018 with the BCCI for $944 million to be the exclusive broadcaster for all cricket media rights in the country.

They are also the exclusive broadcaster of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and signed a deal in 2017 for $2.55 billion. The lack of cricketing action has not only hurt the BCCI’s finances but also Star India. 

Star & Disney India Chairman Uday Shankar is keen to see things get back to normal. He recently shared his views of how the BCCI could further boost the popularity of the game in India and get more viewers engaged and entertained.

Color Commentary Team Must Be Added              

Shankar said that he believes that Indian cricket fans don’t have as much fun as they should watching cricket games on TV because the television commentary team don’t do enough to keep viewers entertained between balls. He felt that cricket commentary was too ‘sanitised’ and that the sport is not being described in a lively and entertaining manner.

If you have been a fan of Indian cricket for the last two decades, you can certainly relate to what Shankar is saying. Some of the commentators who have covered Indian cricket in the past like Sir Geoffrey Boycott, the late Tony Greig and Henry Blofeld used to add that element of spice to the broadcast which caused fans to tune in and listen diligently between deliveries.

The two Indian commentators who added some of that flavour to the broadcast was Ravi Shastri who is now the head coach of the Indian cricket team and Navjot Singh Sidhu who is now into politics.

The current commentary team mostly consists of ex-players such as Sunil Gavaskar, VVS Laxman, M Kartik and Aakash Chopra who are experts in describing the action. Harsha Bhogle has been part of the commentary panel for decades and tries to fill in as a color commentator but his humour is dry and the cricketing public have gone accustomed to hearing him for years.

Commentary Team Controlled By BCCI

One of the reasons why Indian cricket commentary is so dry is because the commentators are paid by the BCCI and are asked to follow a strict set of rules when it comes to the dos and don’ts of what they can say. Sanjay Manjrekar found out the hard way in early 2020 when the BCCI decided not to renew his contract because he criticized Ravindra Jadeja on air.

The same thing happened to Harsha Bhogle a few years ago because he directed some criticism towards MS Dhoni. The BCCI brought back Bhogle after keeping him out of the commentary team for a couple of years. Commentators are keen to toe the line as the BCCI pays them very well.

Shankar was quick to point out that whoever decides to do color commentary must stay within the lines of the BCCI. He said commentators need to remember that they are not journalists as the two roles and responsibilities were very different.

More Room For Emotions To Be Broadcast

Shankar also feels that there is too much control being imposed on what can and cannot be broadcasted to the viewers. He would ideally like viewers to get live broadcasts uninterrupted from the stump mike, helmet cam and what happens on the field as this will bring in a lot more engagement with the fans.

However, players have been caught on camera swearing and sledging which is why broadcasters are given restricted access to broadcast what the players are saying out on the pitch.               

Shankar believes that it is important for the viewers to connect with the players and share in the emotion of the sport. He thinks it is better for all players to express themselves on the cricket field instead of hiding their emotion. His suggestion is to get players to go through a house training protocol that will help them know where to draw the line.

Cricket Betting

Are The Selectors Biased When Selecting U-19 Players?

The only celebrities that are bigger than Bollywood celebrities in India are cricket players. They not only hog the limelight but also make loads of money once they start playing for India and get a good IPL contract.

This is one of the reasons why parents all over India encourage their sons and now even their daughters to play cricket when it comes to choosing a post. However, with over 1.3 billion people in the land, making it through the district level and representing your state team can be quite a daunting task.

A recent debate has surged on social media as to whether nepotism is prevalent in Indian cricket. For many years there have been suggestions that nepotism is present in the Bollywood industry as certain families who have a famous last name appear to get preferential treatment. Their children seem to get more opportunities to break into the movie industry solely based on their last name rather than their acting abilities.

There is a large section of Indian cricket fans who feel that nepotism is prevalent in Indian cricket as well, as the selectors are showing favoritism to young cricketers who have a famous last name.

Fans Question The Selection Of Arjun Tendulkar

Sachin Tendulkar changed the face of Indian cricket as he dominated the sport for nearly two decades. He was, and could still probably be, the best batsman that India produced and was worshipped by Indian cricket fans when he was at his peak.

Tendulkar, who was fondly referred to as the Master Blaster, has since retired and generally makes an appearance when the IPL is being played as he mentors the Mumbai Indians franchise. Sachin’s son Arjun Tendulkar also decided to play cricket but unlike his father who was a pure batsmen who could bowl a few overs, Arjun is primarily a bowler who can also bat.

Arjun Tendulkar’s selection for Mumbai has now come under close scrutiny, probably because there is no cricket action happening and journalists have the time to do some in-depth research. A debate has raged on social media over the past few days claiming that Arjun Tendulkar should not have been selected over other individuals who had performed and had better stats that Tendulkar.

The debate mentioned a young man named Pranav Dhanwade who was the son of an auto-rickshaw driver. Dhanwade created quite a few records when he notched up a massive 1009 runs in 327 balls as he took the opposition apart. However, he was ignored by the selectors even after such an impressive knock. On the other hand, Arjun, who does not have any outstanding stats, was selected.

This has given rise to the nepotism debate as fans have claimed that Arjun is getting special treatment because he the son of Sachin Tendulkar.

Aakash Chopra Plays Down Nepotism Angle

Former cricketer turned commentator Aakash Chopra played down the nepotism factor claiming that fans shouldn’t get emotional just by looking at a few stats but should take the big picture into consideration.

Chopra said that Arjun Tendulkar had a lot more exposure at international level as he has bowled to the England cricket team in the nets on a few occasions. He also bowled in the nets to the Indian women’s cricket team when they were preparing for the 2017 World Cup final.

Chopra pointed out that while Pranav Dhanwade’s knock on paper did look very impressive; it came against a very weak bowling attack. Chopra also pointed out that if nepotism was so prevalent in India cricket, then Rohan Gavaskar would have played a lot more for India as he was the son of the great Sunil Gavaskar.

Nepotism Angle Will Not Go Away Soon

Chopra makes a good argument but most Indian fans are not buying it as they realize how powerful the BCCI is and that big names do carry weight in the selection committee. There are some fans who believe that players like Rohan Gavaskar and Stuart Binny should not have represented India for as many games as they did but they got a few more chances because of their last name and what their father’s did for Indian cricket.

It will be interesting to see if Arjun Tendulkar secures as IPL contract in the next couple of years as that will certain ignite the nepotism debate in Indian cricket even further.

India China

Indian Army Loses 20 Soldiers Along Chinese Border

India will have to deal with some significant challenges in the coming weeks as the nation looks to deal with coming out of lockdown mode and getting its economy up and running. The latest setback that India has to deal with is cross-border tensions with China.

India claims that Chinese troops tried to infiltrate and cross the border into the disputed Himalayan territory of Galwan which resulted in the Indian army taking action. China disputes the story and claims that Indian soldiers deliberately crossed over into China and they took action.

While we have to speculate which version is actually true, the end result is that over 20 Indian soldiers have lost their lives in the escalation. The clash between the two most populous nations on earth took place on June 15 and has caused a lot of political tensions which have created a backlash in India as there have been calls to boycott all Chinese products.

IPL To Hold Meeting To Discuss Chinese Sponsorships

There are a number of major Chinese corporations who have strong ties to India. The Indian Premier League (IPL) is a prime example as the lucrative T20 tournament in India is sponsored by Vivo which is a mobile manufacturer based out of China. Vivo bagged IPL sponsorship rights in 2015 for a period of 2 years and successfully renewed its sponsorship contract in 2017 for another 5 years.

Vivo ended up paying $341 million for its sponsorship rights which allows them to promote the IPL as Vivo IPL. The IPL is also supported by Paytm – which is a popular mobile wallet in India and the official Umpires Partner in the IPL. One of the main stakeholders of Paytm is Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

The IPL Governing Council will meet this week to review some of these Chinese sponsorships but has not disclosed if it will be focusing on any one particular sponsorship. BCCI Treasurer Arun Dhumal did clarify that they were not going to be reviewing these contracts with an emotional chip on their shoulder. The review will be done in a rational and analytical manner.

Dhumal pointed out that the IPL had signed a contract with Vivo and would look to honor those terms and conditions. He said it was imperative to understand the difference between backing a Chinese company to support China and doing business with a Chinese company to benefit India.

The Treasurer said that the Vivo sponsorship brought in millions of dollars to the IPL and the Indian economy as well since 42 percent of the revenue was paid in taxes to the Indian government. Dhumal said that the IPL committee will keep their options open when it comes to renewing sponsorship lights in 2022.

BCCI Does Not Want To Lose More Money In 2020

The BCCI is currently doing its best to see if it can stage the 2020 IPL before the end of the year. The BCCI is waiting on the ICC to confirm if the T20 World Cup will take place as per schedule in October in Australia. The ICC is expected to make a final decision on the matter in July.

If the T20 World Cup does take place, it is going to be difficult for the BCCI to cram a full IPL season in before the end of 2020. If this be the case, the BCCI could end up losing about $500 million which will be a massive loss in revenue. The BCCI will not want to do anything in light of the India-China tensions to opt out of its contract with Vivo, lose out on money and face legal fees and challenges.

Indian Fans Disown Chinese Products

While the BCCI contemplates reviewing Chinese sponsorship deals in the IPL, Indian fans have already made their mind. Some fans have taken to social media to show their anger at China for killing 20 Indian soldiers. A large number of people have agreed to stop buying Chinese products while some have gone to the extent of throwing out their Chinese television sets and mobile phones in anger.

Given the fact that the IPL is sponsored by a Chinese company, it will be interesting to see if Indian fans are willing to boycott the IPL if Vivo continues to be its main sponsor!