It’s difficult to ignore the Indian Premier League.
It’s everywhere. On the telly. In papers. Even in blogosphere and twitterdom.
More than the controversies surrounding teams and players, even more than the conspiracy theories involving betting syndicates and thrown matches, one facet about the league has impressed me the most.
At least two of the companies behind the teams seem to be using IPL as an opportunity to groom the next generation.
So, this year has seen the increasing involvement of Gayatri Reddy in the management of Deccan Chargers (she even represented the team at the auction for new players); and Siddharth Mallya in that of Royal Challengers Bangalore.
I do not know if Ashwin Srinivasan is involved in the management of the Chennai Super Kings.
Illustration: Jayachandran / Mint
It is a reasonable assumption that at least some of these scions will go on to run the family business—the Deccan Chronicle group of companies in Reddy’s case; and the UB group for Mallya. Managing an IPL team (or being involved in its management) is akin to managing a company: there is money to be made; there is money to be spent; there are deals that need to be struck; and there are people— some with very big egos—that need to be managed. Being involved in the management of an IPL team is also likely to raise the public profile of the individual concerned—and a little bit of that doesn’t hurt someone who is starting out (or wants to start out) in business.
I cannot think of a better role model for these scions than Nita Ambani. While she has always been involved in Reliance’s educational and corporate social responsibility initiatives, her role in managing the IPL team she owns, Mumbai Indians, has not just raised her profile but may have even provided the spark that prompted her decision to start a new sports management business in association with IMG. At least to some of us in the media, it seems that the larger makeover she has effected has, at least in part, been helped by her association with the Mumbai Indians.
In some ways, for a large family-run business, having members of the next generation try their hand at managing a cricket team isn’t such a bad idea.
That’s because there aren’t too many trained sports managers or executives in the country. Sure, we have a lot of ex-cricketers who have served as administrators of the game for the Board of Control for Cricket in India or as managers of the Indian team who are now managing the show for some of the teams in the league, but even such people aren’t true sports managers.
In time, the success of IPL will engender a new breed of professional managers. Until then, these teams could do a whole lot worse than being managed by the scions of the business groups behind them.