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David versus Goliath

December 7, 2007

As I write this, Vikram Solanki of the Mumbai Champs gets caught in the deep trying to slog one out of the park. The bowler, TP Subhindra of the Delhi Jets who just two deliveries ago got Nathan Astle plumb in front of the stumps, is ecstatic. A dynamic graphic at the bottom of the screen titled ‘Heart Rate’ shows exactly that for the Jets captain Marvan Attapattu. As the next over begins, a camera hones in on the pitch from an almost overhead angle, moving with the bowler. These are just a couple of the innovations that belong to the newest baby on the block – The Indian Cricket League (ICL).

It’s early days for the first ever ‘domestic’ 20-20 tournament in India. There are two billion-dollar questions that will be answered over the course of the next few weeks; a) Whether Indian viewers will tune into a regional version of the sport? and b) If no, will the market quickly saturate with the Indian Premier League  (IPL) and the Indian Cricket League (ICL)?

For question a; key aspects that will have a bearing on the response are:

  1. It is uncharted territory for the sport to be played in franchise fashion not unlike sports in America but strong marketing can get people interested. Innovative branding, interactive events with the spectators, world-class viewing experience can make domestic 20-20 a worthy adversary to the K-serials
  2. India’s success in the 20-20 world cup was the best thing to happen for the domestic format and there will never be a better time for the ICL and IPL to make their mark. Having suffered our worst performance at the last world cup and with the fading interest in test cricket, Indian viewers are likely to take to this new format with a vengeance because here is something that we are really good at!

Question b is however trickier. Factors in favour of each could be:

Indian Cricket League (ICL)

  • First-mover advantage; gives it a ‘pioneering’ reputation. Makes it a slightly harder proposition for the IPL to market its slew of regional teams
  • Quality names; While some of them are have-beens with not much of an international career ahead of them, there is no disputing the quality of the likes of Brian Lara and Van der Wath

Indian Premier League (IPL)

  • Heavy artillery; The financial clout of the BCCI means it can pull out all stops when it launches its newest ‘product’. Big (current) names, sponsors, ground facilities; you name it, they’ll have it
  • Complete information; It will have the luxury of observing the offerings of the ICL and going better on them.

It remains to be seen who can capture the imagination of the Indian primetime viewer. One thing is for sure though, interesting times ahead for the game of the flannelled fools.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 8, 2007 12:18 pm

    I FEEL ICL IS MUCH BETTER THAT IPL

  2. December 8, 2007 1:30 pm

    But IPL has not been launched yet my friend

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