The legendry Wasim Akram recently bowled a grazing yorker at the big hitters of IPL, yet again with his trademark jab. “Batsmen are scoring easy runs in IPL in the absence of Pakistani bowlers.”
Right words at the perfect timings. With all major bowling brands on ruthless display, one cannot ignore the absence of speedy freight trains from Pakistan in IPL. Think for a moment, would willows of Gayle, Hussey, Sharma and Kohli make as much noise in the presence of dangermen like Gul, Razzaq, Junaid, Irfan, Afridi, Rana Naveed, Wahab and the ever dependable Saeed Ajmal? A candid reply would be a BIG NO…..
Our bowlers are master-chefs of a shorter format and their recipe in various leagues cements Akram’s point. (Not to forget Sohail Tanveer’s heroics in the inaugural IPL)
So while the rest of the arms men are perspiring profusely in the Indian heat, why are our boys forced to take siesta? No millions for answering this one, the 26/11 Mumbai attacks exclusively shunned Pakistani cricketers from the cash-raining bonanza.
And this is where I want to shake readers’ attention.
“The entire Indian nation stood united in maligning Pakistan for the bloody attacks and shutting doors on all cricketing ties was amongst their initial response. Fueling the flames further, BCCI completely scrapped off its 2009 tour to Pakistan, depriving fans of action and PCB from much needed finances. Their policy bars them from playing us at any neutral venue and we only meet in ICC events.“
With the hanging of Kasab on 21st November last year and anti-Pakistan sentiments touching the heights of Hiroshima’s black clouds, how could the hostile neighbor that didn’t even want to discuss bilateral ties, suddenly turn congenial and go all out to invite our national team to fill its stadiums just a month later?
The magical ointment that suddenly soothed blazing emotions must have been bottled in commercialism. For the real answer one has to consider India’s humongous financial power and the nation’s insatiable appetite for cricket.
BCCI’s juggernauts smartly squeezed a quick series between the windows available during England’s split tour to India. While the Englishmen went back home to sing Christmas carols, we packed our bags to earn handsome cash for the blue-shirts.
Let’s take a quick look at huge amounts that forced India to bend all rules and allow Green Shirts and Flags to charm its stadiums. When India play Pakistan at home, the Tv viewership can be anywhere between 130-140 million. Plain translation, “There is BIG money to be made.”
According to Indian industry sources, ESPN STAR, the official broadcaster of the series paid BCCI Rs 322.6 million per match. On the advertising front, the spot rate for the ODIs was Rs 7-7.5 lakh while the T20 was sold at a mind-boggling Rs 9 lakh per 10 second.
Sanjay Kailash, Executive Vice President, ESPN India, was obviously delighted with the resumption of the one-sided series, and won’t he be? Just 5 days of cricket made his organization richer by Rs 140 billion.
According to Sanjay, “We have monetized India Pakistan ODIs at a rate which is double as compared to the historical industry average. Even rates for India-Pakistan T20 are double than that of IPL, which is at about Rs 5 lakh for a 10-second spot.”
Consider this too; the ongoing India-England series at that time, the 10 sec spot were sold at half the price at around Rs.3.5 lakh for the ODIs and Rs.4.25-4.5 lakh for the Twenty20 matches. While the 2011 WC Pak-India semi-final saw the 10-second spot going for a record Rs.13.5 lakh
With stakes that high, no wonder, National Integrity could rest in back stage for a while.
Smart on BCCI’s part, isn’t it? Now what did PCB earn from this hustle and bustle?
Ejaz Butt, the former chairman had inked this series while putting up some legitimate demands with BCCI. Sadly, the Indian board brushed aside each one of them.
To start with, since the cancelation of India’s 2009 tour to Pakistan, it was Pakistan’s turn to host a series. That cancelation had dented PCB revenue with $40 million as a waiver to Ten Sports.
PCB then asked for a revenue sharing formula on a 50-50 basis, again flatly refused. In came the new chairman Zaka Ashraf and he too failed to get any words to keep, not even a guarantee for a compensation tour, and still we jogged ahead.
The sad point is that there was no dearth of warning signals, even from some of our own trusted men. Ehsan Mani, former ICC president was amongst the first to caution, discrediting the tour a misadventure without any reciprocity.
PCB’s faulty didn’t end here; it bowed to India’s proposal while stepping on the throat of a FTP tour to Zimbabwe, the same Zimbabwe that visited Pakistan in 2008 while many had turned their backs. Adios to abiding by principles and rubbing shoulders with friends.
As was predicted, a few days after the tour BCCI refused to send Indian team to Pakistan in august this year citing security reasons and also rejected playing at any neutral venue.
At the end, who stood to gain from this series? Cricket? rubbish, a meaningless schedule like this doesn’t do the game any good. Fans? Yes, they did enjoy a short lived thriller. BCCI? Déjà vu, both their hands dipped in the honey pot. PCB? Betrayal, humiliation, empty coffers and punch in the face.
I firmly believe in diving into the past and chunking out morals. Zaka Ashraf’s men will have to learn that self-dignity is above anything else. Yes, we are desperate to get teams touring but there are dignified ways to do that (Late Dr. M. Ali. Shah showed us how). It would have been delightful to see our boys shaking the IPL, but till BCCI doesn’t treat us with respect and dignity, there is no point for us to go begging.
In the end, relax and take a deep breath, as all is not gloom and doom. Rest assures, India will need us again very soon. Like a good coaching tip, wait for the bad ball, and once it comes, make sure you throw it out of the park.