The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is a monopoly, and hence it takes all major decisions for the ‘control’ of cricket in India. The promotion and development of cricket and nurturing players with potential to play in the national team are looked after by the state associations. Cricket in India is not played along the lines of soccer. The worth of a player is not determined by market forces. He is retained in the team just because he has a few big scores to his name. Consistency of performance is not given much importance. The number of players who can be considered for the national team is always limited due to the lack of exposure to competitive cricket both at the national and international levels.
More often than not, the TINA (there is no alternative) factor plays a big role in the selection of the captain and the team itself. In an unprecedented move recently, BCCI is reported to have asked the selection committee to retain Rahul Dravid as captain for the forthcoming tours. Earlier BCCI had graded contracts with the players and they were also paid a match appearance fee. Players were free to sign contracts for product endorsement and related appearances. BCCI has recently announced some changes in these conditions.
I believe a time has come to adopt a radically different system, somewhat along the lines of international soccer clubs, for the promotion, growth and management of cricket in India. In this system, the players will sign retainership contracts with the state associations, and not BCCI. The state associations will also organize, in addition to inter-state tournaments, matches with foreign counties or state teams. Through this arrangement, all players in the state teams will have a chance to play at the international level.
BCCI will continue to be involved in competitions such as the World Cup and Champions Trophy, in which teams from several countries participate. For this purpose, BCCI will pick up players from all over the country to form the national team for the specific tournament. The players selected for the national team will continue to be retained by the state associations. BCCI will, however, pay them an appearance fee.
The earnings of BCCI will be from the organization of these big events, while the state associations will earn from inter-state matches, including matches with foreign clubs and county teams. The present practice of organizing or participating in almost year-long inter-country matches should be discontinued. There will not be any long-term contracts with channels, marketers, advertisers and so on, but on a match-to-match or tournament basis.
BCCI has recently announced restrictions on product endorsement by the players. Sportspersons are approached by marketers and advertisers based on their current performance and public image. The concept has got a phenomenal boost in the last few years. A relative newcomer like M.S. Dhoni now endorses 23 brands, compared with 17 by Sachin Tendulkar.
The dismal performance of the Indian cricketers in international matches recently and the consequent loss of their image in the public eye has compelled India Inc. to withhold ads with them as brand ambassadors. Thus, there is a definite relationship between the performance of a player and his public image and his acceptability by India Inc. as a brand ambassador.
There is as such no need for BCCI or state associations to put limits on brand endorsements. This will be taken care of by marketers and advertisers.
O.P. Gupta is a management consultant. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org