- Among their initial attempts to jeopardize the PSL, the BCCI reached an agreement with Sri Lanka to play a shorter series in February
A commercial league, in all its true complexity, can be defined as how the image of a certain country undergoes a make-over through marketing injections and is presented to the world as a well-packaged, value-added product that will eventually reap financial rewards for the country and act as a catalyst in elevating its position to a point where it is no longer considered irrelevant. In an era where commercialisation has slowly seeped into the roots of cricket all across the globe, the existence of a commercial league in a specific country is symbolic of its financial ambitions and standing at the international stage.
Since its inception in 2008, the Indian Premier League has rotated fortunes of the cricketing world upside down. Following the critical reception of IPL, the cricketing world could look no further. Commercial cricket was, and still is, considered the epicenter of the sport’s survival and future growth.
The much-anticipated Pakistan Super League ultimately took place in the United Arab Emirates and was instantly labelled a critical success. A combination of pyrotechnics, flags, team anthems, commentators and an enthusiastic capacity crowd on weekdays being whipped into a frenzy by the sound of local chants, Pakistan’s very own league entered the market with a bang. While the Indian Premier League remains the premier product and no other league comes close to changing that anytime soon, Indian acceptance of Pakistan Super League are empty words that partially hide their uneasiness.
Among their initial attempts to jeopardize the league, the Board of Control for Cricket in India reached an agreement with Sri Lanka Cricket to play a shorter-version series in February. The announcement came shortly after Sri Lanka Cricket had verbally given Pakistan Cricket Board the green light that all its players will be available for the inaugural edition of Pakistan Super League. The announcement not only placed valid question marks on the availability of key Sri Lankan players for PSL, but it was timed in such a manner that it required a quick change in plans for team owners who were hopeful of signing Sri Lankan players for their franchises. Kudos to the think tanks of all franchises, the void left by the absence of Sri Lankan players was not felt largely by the stakeholders and the league proved to be a remarkable one for all the international stars involved.
Moving on. India, being the pioneers of commercial cricket, are well-aware of potential target markets and audience, but their newly-kindled interest in the recent development of the Caribbean Premier League might come across as unusual to many. For those of you who are unaware, the Caribbean Premier League is an annually held T20 cricket tournament that was created in 2013, replacing Caribbean Twenty20 as the premier T20 competition in the West Indies.
West Indies cricket has been facing a potentially crippling financial crisis that has led to payment issues with players, mid-way cancellation of tours, contract disputes and players retiring to play in international leagues. Despite having a talented pool of players at their disposal, West Indies cricket has suffered due to irregular and inadequate training associated with lack of sufficient physical fitness, indiscipline and frequent shortfalls in management and organisation. But that is not what India sees.
Synonymous with some of the marquee sports partnerships in India, New Delhi headquartered Hero MotoCorp Ltd. has been named as the new title sponsor of the Caribbean Premier League. Two Caribbean Premier League teams are now owned by Indian Premier League franchise owners – Shahrukh Khan is the owner of newly renamed Trinbago Knight Riders and Vijay Mallya is the new owner of Barbados Tridents. According to Caribbean Premier League CEO, Damien O’Donohoe, there is interest from a third Indian Premier League franchise owner in purchasing a team. The Caribbean Premier League management has also been connected to Sony, who is the leading broadcaster in India. Among all the other ideas that have been floated, one is the possible involvement of Indian players in the Caribbean Premier League. After two high-profile link-ups between the Caribbean Premier League and the Indian Premier League, the Caribbean league is poised to argue its case for some Indian involvement and having Indian owners will play a crucial part during the negotiations process. Although it is a long shot, if that does happen, it will be a massive coup for the Caribbean Premier League as the first T20 competition other than the Indian Premier League itself to have Indian players representing their teams.
When speculations do become a reality and the developments do take place, Indian participation in the league will be visible and will assist the league in emerging as a solid breeding ground for competitive cricket. But, at the end of the day, commercial leagues exist with a profit motive and, in a competitive market that is becoming highly saturated, why would India want to strengthen and groom a potential rival? The answer, in the simplest of terms, is that India does not view the Caribbean Premier League as a possible threat to their glamorized product or market share, rather it is using it as a pawn to stunt the growth of Pakistan Super League. (The Nation.com)