Wednesday, 13 January 2010

United we fight the administartors!!

It is absolutely shameful that the Indian hockey players have had to resort to going on strike to get dues paid from Hockey India. Hockey India is offering players Rs. 25000 as outstanding dues for 2009. This is such a paltry sum that it sickens me to think of what we have made of our national sport and its great heritage.

Our greatest sporting glories have been provided by Hockey. India has won the Olympic Gold 8 times. This included a run from 1928 Amsterdam till 1956 Melbourne where nobody could even come close to matching the Indians. Forget winning a Gold we don't even have another medal in any other team sport at the Olympics in more than a 100 years of competition.

I find it hard to believe that in a country where a rookie cricketer like Ishant Sharma earns 3.8 crore and somelike Dinesh Karthik earns 2.1 crore for a few weeks of IPL we cannot offer our hockey players even a decent wage to represent the country. Some officials of Hockey India have turned around and accused the players of prioritizing Money over Country. Obviously these 'officials' don't understand the meaning of the word professional. How many of us will continue working without getting paid?

There are also those who feel the timing of the protest is not right as India is set to host the 2010 Hockey World Cup in six weeks time. 2010 also has the Asian Games, and the Commonwealth Games. I think the timing could not be better. It is high time that we as a country have egg on our face and our sporting administrative ineptitude is laid bare to the world.

I just hope no deal can be struck between the players and Hockey India which promises the players payment after the World Cup as suggested by the Sports Minister. We have obviously heard such hollow promises before. Either Hockey India pay the players upfront or we should not have a team to represent us at this event.

I urge all Indians to support the players. We have to make sure that they get a fair deal. The administrators cannot get away with this again. I urge all the Players in the team and even those who might be called up as replacements to stay together and not give in to the tactics of Hockey India. We need our national game back.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

IPL is here to stay!! What about the franchises??

I think the biggest relief for the organisers of IPL must be that people have showed up at the grounds... I know selling cricket on TV is where the real money is, but you wont sell it for much if your stadium is empty... its the crowd at the game that really stir up the atmosphere... when you have fifty thousand or more watching a nervous chase... the tension is that much greater... and on those counts the IPL has delivered. This has guaranteed it "eye balls" for the next season... And next time will cause even more anticipation... The Ad rates will be higher... We will be subjected daily to our daily dose of Shahrukh, Preity, Lalit and the awesome Cricket with twice the vigour... If you think the media has gone crazy about the IPL.... Imagine what will happen the next time around?? If anyone from the media missed out on the IPL pie this time, they will be back with both hands to grab some of it... So basically once its on TV.... You have to watch.... And I think on those terms... the IPL is definitely here to stay...

But what intrigues me is what now happens to the franchise? Does it just vanish and appear again when players, coaches, physios and the other people required for a team are assembled again at some hotel in some city? Or will the franchise exist with training grounds, practise facilities, full time staff, passionate fan base, academies and stadiums? If the IPL really wants to stay and the franchises really want to grow into profit making companies then I think they will have to work the whole year and not just for two months in a year. But when do they get the players again? I think the franchise teams should play all limited overs domestic competitions in India, this will give an opportunity for the younger and fringe players of the franchise to play regularly and stake a claim for a place when the internationals return for the IPLt20 next summer.

I think the BCCI need to look at the domestic calendar and need to tweak it to support both the IPL and the Ranji trophy domestic teams... The problem is the calendar... The season opener is always the Irani Trophy... It is played between the Ranji Winner and the Rest of India... After that comes the Ranji Trophy which is played between state and other teams like Railways and Services... This is a four day competition... After that is the Duleep Trophy which is again a four day version with the zonal teams... Then come the One day Competitions.. The Deodhar Trophy and The Vijay Hazare Trophy.... Deodhar is played by the zones and Vijay Hazare Trophy by the states... There is also the Challenger Trophy which is between India, India A and India B. The calendar should be made in such a way that all these tournaments happen together and not one after the other as is the case now.

The season opener can remain the Irani Trophy, but when the league format of the Ranji Trophy begins... The league for the Vijay Hazare Trophy should also begin... This league should be played by existing franchises and other associations with whom there is no franchise upto a maximum of 16 teams... That means 8 existing franchises and 8 teams from the other parts of India e.g. - Kochi, Pune, Cuttack, Ahmedabad, Indore, Kanpur, Srinagar and Gauhati... The league will have 30 games for each team.... These should be played at home and away basis... For about twenty days of each month the league should take place with games on a friday/saturday or sunday. For the last ten days of every month, the players should return to their state teams for the ranji league game.

The Deodhar and Duleep Trophy should be played on an "All-Star" basis where fans from the zone vote for their zonal team. For the Deodhar Trophy each of these 16 teams gets alloted zones so Delhi, Mohali, Srinagar and Jaipur are North, Gauhati, Kanpur, Kolkata and Cuttack are East, Hyderabad, Kochi, Chennai and Bangalore are South and Mumbai, Pune, Indore and Ahmedabad are West. Let the fans vote for who should be included in their zonal team and those four teams play a Twenty20 competition over a weekend at a specific location which will change every year. The Duleep Trophy similarly should have zonal sides picked by the selectors but it should be played as a knockout competition like it used to be.

Having played this during the domestic season the big franchises should then be ready for the big one every summer, the internationals should be back and the best of the players from their franchise should then be ready to join them in the IPLt20. I hope unlike this year the leaders at the end of the league phase should be given the IPLt20 Trophy from next year. In future seasons the eligibility to play in the t20 league should be decided on the result of the Vijay Hazare Trophy. The top 8 teams this year will get to play the t20 league the next year. This will keep the franchises interested in the 50 over format as only a good performance there will lead to the t20 league which is the most rewarding. The bottom 8 teams can play the second division league for the t20.

What then happens to the Ranji Trophy.... There are currently two divisions... Super Division and Plate Division... Super has 15 teams and Plate has 12. The number of teams in each division must be interchanged such that the Super Division (SD) has less teams. The 12 teams in SD should then be split into 2 groups and they should play a league competition of 5 games each with the top 2 teams going to the semi-finals and subsequently the final. These matches should be planned in the last 10 days of the month. Similar competition for the Plate Division with the concept of promotion and relegation where the bottom two sides in each group come down from the SD and the PD semi-finalists go to the SD for the next season.

This now will give the franchises a real path on which to work on. They will have to keep a full squad of players for the Hazare Trophy and will need to plan and execute trying to stay in the top 8 so that they get to play the lucrative t20 league which will include all the international stars. Also based on these performances the states can then call up players for their Ranji teams and every player who wants to play Test Cricket for India will have to play Ranji Trophy as well. This will keep the players on their toes and will make them concentrate on all forms of the games. In the future another 16 team division can be made for the other cities in the Country which have grounds good enough to stage matches. This will mean that the bottom four from the Hazare Trophy First Division will go back to the Second Division and the top four coming up.

Since only 20 days are allocated every month for this only 3-4 games will be possible each month for every team. This will mean 1-2 home matches a month for every team. I think teams should manage filling in stadiums, the occasional wave from Shahrukh will help here again. And since games will be held just once or twice in a month (in a city) and that also on weekends, it will not be an overkill. Regular gate reciepts and another TV Deal to show these games on TV will continue the revenue generation for the franchises. They can then look to build a real city based fan base with people regularly going to the Cricket for all the home games. Franchises can collaborate with people and make this a total entertainment day for the visitor. Depending on the season these games can be scheduled as day/day-night games, ideally every venue should get lights so they can also have night games. Fans should be given the royal treatment at every game, and more and more fan involvement should be encouraged. Fans also will want their team to do well as then they would get to watch the t20 league in the summer in their own city. This may actually lead to people watching the Ranji game at the end of the month as they would want to know how players from their team fared in the Ranji matches. Also restrictions should be placed on the franchise teams that local players be represented not only in the squad but also in the playing XI.

The "All Star" Deodhar Trophy should be a total carnival, party and fun tournament. It can have six hitting competitions, direct hit competitions, bowl out competitions between the players and also have a knockout t20 competition between the zonal teams picked by the fans. Annual player awards and other such events can be held to conincide with this event. This event should be held in a different city every year and be held for a complete weekend from friday evening to sunday evening and should involve a lot of fan participation. Ideally this tournament should be played mid season and it would be better if all the Indian players are present.

The present Domestic Twenty20 Championship and the Challenger Trophy should be replaced by the The Indian t25 Cup which should be a knockout t25 competition for the franchises. This can be played home and away on the basis of first innings and second innings like a t25 test match. The losers will get knocked out and the winners will move to the next round and so on till the finals. This will let the teams which do not qualify for IPL the chance to play and beat the IPL teams. In the future this cup can comprise also of teams which play in a lower division of the t20 league.

The Season can end with the IPL and just before the IPL should be the Ranji Trophy finals. If the BCCI can tweak the domestic calendar in such a way that both the formats co-exist and both types of teams co-exist it will be a win-win for everyone. The players will get proper professional atmosphere with good wages to play cricket all around the country in front of crowds and as a reward of good performance call up to the Ranji Team. If performances are excellent then possibly a call up to the national side. The franchises will get to develop further with employing full time playing and support staff. This will give them a more settled feeling, and coming last in the t20 league will not be the end of the world as they could do well in other competitions. They will be able to leverage their brand the year around and can really look to build relationships with sponsors, fans, media and other interested stake holders. The state associations will get some revenue from the franchises for stadia use and other support work, they also might benefit from viewership for the Ranji games. They can infact look to build similar models within the state, where other district level cities are involved in all competition with each other along similar lines. They can work with the local media and work out leagues and competitions on that basis. The BCCI will be promoting all forms of the game in a proper manner and building a huge resource pool of cricketers, coaches, physios, analysts, support staff, umpires and other members of the cricket world(bat manufacturers, groundsmen etc.). The best of these will represent India in all internationals in all formats of the game. The game itself will be more accessible, for fans who long to see good cricket in a stadium played with good atmosphere (right now you get it once or twice a year during an international only), more people will play the game as it could be a serious career choice as only playing for India will not guarantee you a big future, that should be the bonus.

This should make the franchises survive better and become a real entity, if they can keep a playing and support staff and plan and execute for the whole season with all the different competitions then this model will be successful and the franchises will grow and understand their business better and go onto the next level with academies producing young cricketers who are ready for the world of Indian Domestic Cricket. Any player who gets to play at this level should feel a sense of achievement, playing for India though must be the aim and finally all great players will get to play at that level. The IPL has been a phenomenal success, no doubts about that, for the franchises though the game has only just begun.

Saturday, 2 February 2008


My friend... His friend.... The guy who sits behind her at work.... You know the other guy from work? You've all seen him... Mid twenties... maybe more.., maybe less... him? I saw her.... Oh yeah she works there too... No no thats her sister.... You're mistaken.... Have you seen her? I saw her on tv once.... She gets up early.... He told me.... Tells us about the stock market on tv.... What about the others? They get up too.... They work.... Even the guy who sits behind her at work... They all work.... The guy who called me now.... My flatmate..... He slogs.... Mid twenties.... maybe more... maybe less.... educated? speak english? employed? Indian? live in Urban India? How many must we be? I don't know.... A lot!! Take a guess.... Two hundred million.... Are there more? Must be... What about his sister who'se just in college? Should we count her? There are too many to count.... I guess we should.... She can also vote.... Vote? Who does that? They do.... Who are they?? You know them.... Indians.... I'm Indian... I don't vote.... And why? Who? What who? Who should I vote for? That guy... No he sucks.... What about that one? Are you crazy? How about the third guy? There are too many third guys.... They are always looking after themselves.... What about the AIIMS docs who got water cannoned and beaten up? Poor cops... They must've felt bad doing that... But someone made them do that.... I'm not voting for them!! I hope she doesn't as well.... She doesn't vote at all.... She should vote!!! You want her to vote for the guys who beat up people in parks? Telling you what to do... She can't even walk back safely home.... They burnt down something... Or broke it.... They always do that.... She's not voting for them.... You're left with the third guy.... He sells.... What? Everything... They'll sell my vote.... Make some money.... Become a minister... Do nothing.... And then sell my vote at more money.... Then who? I don't know... Do we have a political voice? Who 'we'? All of us... Middle and upper Income, urban educated employed tv watching, movie going, Goa tripping, slogging your ass at work, party hopping, college going, shopping, new mall checking out, studying, cricket watching/playing, shouting, laughing, orkuting, amazingly hard working Indians.... No political party in India cares about us.... See what they did to the kids outside AIIMS... Not one political party supported them.... Only the media and the judiciary... And the Indian media and the judiciary are awesome remarkable institutions.... We were right.... So who do we vote for in 2009? Who will young India vote for in 2009? Congress? BJP? Third Guy? Don't Care Won't Vote? Or I want to vote but someone better? We need a political party to fill this gap, the urban educated youth is a vote bank that is just going to grow and grow and grow.... 31.8% of India's population is under 15 years old.... With the rate we're developing most of these will be educated.... By 2030 we will overtake China in population.... Even though 77% of our population is Rural, this figure will continously go down as urbanization reaches everywhere... Someone needs to emerge and catch this vote bank.... I hope someone does.... Someone who makes me want to vote.... But what are the options? None.... I had hoped that the Youth for Equality formed during the anti reservation protests would turn into a larger youth political movement.... But now their yahoo group forum advertises Reliance data cards and IT jobs.... Lok Paritran have tried a bit in the south but its still not large scale enough... But quite a few people voted for them... But not that many... People have to start now though so that they have a decent chance in 2014 and 2019... By 2019 the electorate should have changed quite a bit.... I will be 37 in 2019.... So even people half my age then will be able to vote..... someone born when I finished school will be able to vote..... The millenium kids... Who've not known Black and White TV, Life without cell phones, Only ten minutes news on DD, News breaks during movies and cricket!!!, even they will be able to vote.... Who are they going to vote for? Or will they also stay the Don't Care Won't Vote generation!!! Someone tell them who....

Sunday, 30 December 2007


Wanted to blog for quite sometime.... Finally it is here.... The day is auspicious and I am happy (read the first post!!!).... Not a bad start.... Hopefully manage to do it regularly..... Get your comments in!!!

Happy Twenty Five

So when did I actually turn twenty five? In Belgium its been 3 hours and 21 minutes since the day has begun but people in India obviously were celebrating it for me way before that. Anyway I guess that is immaterial, it is finally here.

A quarter of a century has been lived and it has been good going so far, or so I think. The best thing about being twenty five is that you actually remember stuff that happened more than 10 - 15 years back, you certainly couldn't say that 10 - 15 years ago. And I remember some great times, mostly laughs. I have had a lot to laugh about thinking about so many things. The ironic thing is that at that time a lot of these times weren't really funny, they certainly weren't making me laugh. I think the past always turns to funny or rather happy. Look at an old pic and it makes you smile instantly, though that pic you are looking at is a grumpy face of you with other people who have trekked an entire day walking 30 kilometers up a hill. Not really happy times at that time, but now it is such a happy memory.

The point I'm trying to make is that whatever happens now or in the moment you are existing maybe good, bad, happy, sad whatever, ultimately it will turn to happiness in your head. So my thinking that the last twenty five years have been good going is justified as the first twenty five years are a happy memory. I have had bad times and low times but it is still a happy memory. They make me smile and laugh as well. It is like "What was I thinking?" or "How the hell did I manage to get into that shit?".

Knowing that bad times now or whenever will be happy times in the future gives me immense courage and fills me with great anticipation for the next twenty five. The next twenty five will be very different from the first, obviously it will be. Probably be much harder, no obviously be much harder. But I know that I am going to have a good time at the end of it, and knowing that now makes it a very happy twenty five for me.