India, The IPL, And The Hundred

When reports of the ECB seeking private investors in The Hundred were being published by a number of newspapers and website last May, I wrote a quick post on why that would be a stupid idea called The Hundred For Sale. Now that there appears to be speculation around IPL owners and the BCCI being brought in, with the ECB apparently hoping to tap into the vast Indian cricket fanbase, it seems a good idea to write a follow-up piece detailing the problems with this specific proposal.

The proposals mentioned in The Telegraph article are:

  • The BCCI to receive a portion of The Hundred’s TV revenue from Asia in exchange for allowing Indian men’s cricketers to play in the competition. (It seems likely that they will allow India’s women cricketers to play abroad without any concessions, as they already do in the Australian Big Bash League)
  • The owners of the eight current IPL teams to be allocated a 25% share of a team in The Hundred, in exchange for an investment.
  • Exhibition games involving IPL teams to be hosted by English counties.

The first question the ECB and counties might ask is how much would a Indian TV deal for The Hundred involving some Indian players realistically be worth? One hugely important factor to consider would be timezones: India Standard Time is 4.5 hours ahead of England’s British Summer Time. This means that a 2.5 hour game (The planned duration for a game in The Hundred) which starts at 6.30pm in England would finish at the equivalent of 1.30am in India. Even if stars like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Ravi Jadeja were all playing, it seems unlikely that tens of millions of Indians would stay up that late. The ECB could choose to start matches earlier (swapping with the women’s games so that the men’s games began at 2.30pm, for example), which would put them into Indian prime time but during work hours in England. That almost certainly lead to fewer tickets sold, fewer British people watching on TV, and the ECB having to deal with a very annoyed Sky and BBC.

It would also be wise the temper expectations about which Indian players would come in the event of the BCCI allowing them to do so. The IPL has essentially created a global gap in the cricket calendar, allowing both their own and other internationals to play in the tournament unimpeded. The Hundred has no such luxury, with even England men’s cricketers playing two Tests during the competition. There is absolutely no guarantee that India won’t have matches scheduled during the competition, which would eliminate most of India’s biggest stars from contention.

The relatively low pay might also discourage the top echelon of Indian T20 players from choosing to play in The Hundred. Virat Kohli receives roughly £1.7m per year to play for Royal Challengers Bangalore, but the most he could get from Welsh Fire is £110,000 (assuming he was captain). For virtually anyone in the current Indian team, that’s not an amount of money which would in any way justify spending a month in Cardiff. Players on the fringes of the Indian team like Axar Patel or Umesh Yadav might be interested, but they wouldn’t have sufficient star power to generate financial gains for the ECB in terms of Indian TV deals or additional ticket sales.

Selling shares of the eight The Hundred teams to IPL owners would also be a mistake. To quote ECB chief executive Tom Harrison, “The key is that any money generated remains in cricket, for the good of all sections of the game”. Investors understandably expect a profit, and so would be looking to take as much money as possible out of English cricket. If their priority is to make as much money as possible, the ECB’s other objectives might have to be sidelined. You wouldn’t expect the owners of Chennai Super Kings to care if cricket participation numbers in Sheffield were decreasing, for example, whilst Yorkshire CCC might. Similarly, outside investors might demand higher ticket prices to increase revenue or a reduction in on-field entertainment to reduce costs.

Having Indian investors having stakes in individual teams could also cause problems between the ECB and the counties. Right now, most of the revenue in terms of ticket sales, merchandise, sponsorship and the TV rights is shared equally between all 18 counties in the form of a £1.3m annual payment. Essentially, the ECB owns all eight teams and only delegates the management to the various counties. Because of this, it almost doesn’t matter which county is associated with which team in The Hundred. Three of the eight teams are run by three counties, four of them by two counties, and Manchester Originals are solely controlled by Lancashire CCC. If the ECB turned them into franchises, with 25% ownership from Indian investors, then all of a sudden Lancashire CCC might have a 75% stake in a team whilst Glamorgan CCC might only have 25%.

The eight teams also have significantly different prospects in terms of profitability and revenue. The Oval Invincibles will play in a 25,500 capacity stadium which invariably sells out all of its T20 Blast games, whilst Welsh Fire will play at a ground which holds a maximum of 15,643 people and in reality struggles to sell even half that many tickets. If team stakeholders get a share of ticket, food and other merchandise revenue then they’d be fools not to want the Oval Invincibles team.

Beyond money, bringing the BCCI and IPL owners into positions of power in English cricket might place the ECB in a very uncomfortable ethical position. It’s escaped few people’s notice that the IPL has the best T20 cricketers from around the world with the sole exclusion of Pakistan. Just one Pakistan international has played in the IPL in the last decade (Azhar Mahmood, 2012-15). If the BCCI were to allow Indian players in The Hundred, it seems doubtful that they would be happy to see them playing alongside Pakistani overseas players. The ECB could be in a position where they would either have to accept this or call it out, which would likely have the effect of the BCCI withdrawing their support.

One of the aims of The Hundred was to engage British Asians, who are significantly more likely to enjoy watching and playing cricket than the ‘average’ Brit but might feel a stronger connection to domestic and national teams outside England. What people often gloss over is that ‘British Asian’ covers a broad swathe of nationalities, religions and other divisions, and that they don’t all necessarily get on with each other. For example, Moeen Ali was constantly booed at his home ground of Edgbaston when playing for England against India in 2014. As it stands, the ECB might be seen as broadly neutral in any internecine rivalries (by virtue of doing absolutely nothing). If they were to endorse the exclusion of one nation’s players to appease another’s, that might also have the effect of excluding a large number of potential fans who they were hoping to attract.

As far as the third proposal regarding exhibition games at grounds like the Oval goes, it’s not inherently ridiculous. Rajasthan Royals played Middlesex Panthers in 2009, for example. That said, I think any IPL team would struggle to assemble anywhere near its full roster for a few games in England in September and almost all of their stars would be missing due to either international commitments or plain lack of interest. The larger issue might be the BCCI, who would probably be more inclined to host such a competition in India rather than allowing an English ground to profit from the IPL’s brand.

Whilst I would love for Indian players to be available for all domestic competitions around the world, as they are from every other country, the costs of doing so for The Hundred seem to far, far outweigh the benefits.

If you have any comments about this post, the ODIs, or anything else, please post them below.

18 thoughts on “India, The IPL, And The Hundred

  1. Aden Biddle Mar 25, 2021 / 7:30 pm

    Really interesting article about the business of the IPL and The Hundred. I can say first hand cricket participation here in Sheffield is down. One thing I would say is everyone I know who plays cricket is more excited about playing this year than any other year on record also many clubs (including the one I’m playing for) are already getting inundated for AllStars and Dynamos bookings, with foreign holidays off the table availability for the upcoming season is sky high, there is so much enthusasium among crickets core this year than ever but I am sure the ECB will continue this drive to tell cricketers giving up their weekends and free time for the game they love they are in fact the issue. I know it is really hard to delve into the politics of Indian cricket especially on Twitter but you raise an excellent point above areas of the UK have British Asian populations for different parts of the Sub Continent unless India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh (Nepal also) then you won’t get the support you need. For all the new fans the game has to be British/English at its hearth, the Big Bash and IPL are quintessential for their respective countries there seems to be a desire to copy or join in with countries who are culturally so different, I made a comment about the team badges recently the old school victorian’ness of English cricket is a good brand and selling point why make jazzy IPL kits with funky BBL style motifs? I won’t watch The Hundred because I will be out playing cricket at literally every opportunity getting through sports tape and painkillers, all I care about it will it make getting 11 players on Saturday or putting out an under 15’s easier I am not sure The Hundred will.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Statman Tom Mar 25, 2021 / 8:33 pm

    I certainly agree that the Hundred is unlikely to attract the big name 20 and 50 over international stars that India has unless they are offered a significant pay rise or some impressive endorsements. Still, it’s not like India are short of talented players who can’t make the national team or indeed some of the old pros who only play IPL largely because they aren’t allow to play anywhere else. Even a player like MS Dhoni rocking up to play in the Hundred would be a major coup for the competition and undoubtedly garner a lot of interest both domestically and overseas.

    As for the timing issue, IPL matches start at 7:30pm IST and as a result of constant ad breaks, time outs and general pissing about usually finish gone midnight so while a tweak to the timing might be necessary to push it into “prime time” we’re probably talking about starting an hour earlier rather than a shift to mid afternoon. Equally, it’s unlikely that India will be concerned about the time of the year the competition is played. In fact, I think it’s exactly the opposite as our summer is their monsoon season i.e. a time when they can’t host any cricket tournaments themselves and when the only international cricket being played is usually in this country. The desire to stream live cricket 12 months of the year to a billion people is probably why they’re interested in the UK and not one of the Southern Hemisphere nations whose cricket seasons clash with their own.

    As for the Pakistan question, isn’t this the perfect opportunity to create a T20 (or 100 ball) league that is open to all the world’s best players? Plus I doubt the money men at the BCCI really care very much about the geopolitics at play but they are beholden to the politicians will in regards what happens in India and the IPL. India v Pakistan in cricket even if it is via the proxy of a domestic franchise would get a massive amount of interest in both countries and globally – 273 million people watched the 2019 WC game.

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  3. dArthez Mar 26, 2021 / 5:29 am

    Azhar Mahmood could play on his UK passport. The question is whether the BCCI is having issues with Pakistani players, or that they are merely echoing the Indian National government. If the former, they would not want to put it to the test (and that would be completely understandable, if you follow Indian national politics). If the latter, there should not be a problem in players from the two countries playing alongside each other (if only because that would expose some rather uncomfortable truths). So even putting forward the proposal could spectacularly backfire.

    As for the Indian stars, extremely unlikely. 110k is barely pocket change for the likes of Kohli. He’d have to make a killing from the endorsements, and let’s be honest: what company is willing to part with millions in the UK for an endorsement that is barely marketable due to limited viewerships?

    The pay is not good (by IPL standards), so the best you can hope for is up and coming talent, and some players who are past it trying to cash in once more (Suresh Raina?), or the occasional star playing, just to get used to the conditions, when the ECB manage to steal yet another global event for their own bottom line, and screw over the rest of the cricket world yet again (see WC 2019, of which the ECB made a massive profit). Then again, why would the BCCI be throwing a lot of money to the ECB, to the detriment of everyone else, themselves included?

    Some IPL franchises have also been involved in the CPL, so some of the expertise needed is there. Not sure those ventures have been profitable, but I doubt a 25% stake would suffice for them to be really interested. And since they are in the money making business, and will be aware of the loss-making projections for the first five years, they’ll try to socialise the risks, and privatise the profits. Guess who will be paying that? Hint: it won’t be the IPL franchises.

    As for exhibition games?
    a) why send the money to England?
    b) Franchises will not be full strength, due to international commitments of their players, so not unlikely that the franchises actually have to contract some local domestic talent, just to fill up the numbers. You would need a global franchise tournament, similar to what the Champions League was to get the best players available. Sure, a window can be created, but that will further fragment the international calendar.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. dlpthomas Mar 26, 2021 / 8:10 am

    Nice to Topley back but the bowling looks a bit thin

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    • dannycricket Mar 26, 2021 / 8:21 am

      It always does for England. I’m not sure they’ve ever had a strong white ball bowling attack.

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      • dlpthomas Mar 26, 2021 / 8:38 am

        Archer, Wood and Rashid is a pretty useful combination (if you can keep them fit). Is Stone in the one-day squad?

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        • dannycricket Mar 26, 2021 / 8:45 am

          Nope. The bowlers in the squad are Ali, S Curran, T Curran, Parkinson, Rashid, Stokes, Topley and Wood, with reserves Ball and Jordan.

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          • dlpthomas Mar 26, 2021 / 8:49 am

            Oh. That’s, lets go with, unfortunate.

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  5. Mark Mar 26, 2021 / 1:37 pm

    The ECBs justification for the 16.4 was that they wanted a new audience (customers) and they had done numerous surveys and discovered lots of mums and kids who couldn’t wait to come along to the new format. Now it appears they think the new customer base will be the Indian IPL fan base.

    The ECB (which is supposed to represent the interests of English cricket) has decided to just sell out to India so desperate are they for money above all else. They have made ludicrous claims for the new format and uprooted the entire English cricket season, particularly in June and July for these mysterious new fans their research claimed was wanting these changes. It turns out to be complete bullshit and it would appear the whole thing was designed and created to flog to the Indian Premiership. Even start times may be altered to accommodate Indian tv fans ahead of UK fans.

    The ECB increasingly is not the custodian of English cricket but a bunch of spivs who can’t wait to flog it off to the highest bidder. The counties only have themselves to blame for this as they readily took the financial bribe to keep them sweet. Now they will be hosting cricket matches on their grounds and the profits will go to Indian IPL teams. Never mind what the ECB say now, if IPL teams invest they will call the shots. So now no country cricket at the height of summer to make way for an IPL spin off.

    I can’t help thinking this was the plan all along seeing as I don’t believe a word the ECB say, least of all their dishonest claim they are putting English cricket first.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Amit Garg Mar 29, 2021 / 12:01 pm

    Can’t see the indian stars participating. Time away from family, breaks from the game or poor money that reduces significantly post taxes with the risk of injury in a non BCCI tournament might all be deterrents. Older, retired stars like Dhoni or Raina won’t pull crowds beyond a few games. New talent will not be allowed. The geo politics of pakistani players is an issue though BCCi will take directive from the government. Whether or not anyone else likes it or understands it, the fact is sporting relations don’t exist between the two nations outside of multi-side tournaments. That is not changing without the government’s involvement.

    Will the tournament even make money to survive? Even for players from other countries, it has to make sense. Without a dedicated window, countries are likely to be playing as per international itineraries.

    Odds seem stacked against it despite the public bravado by the ECB.

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  7. dArthez Apr 6, 2021 / 3:58 pm

    Is it me or are the #WCOCM polls a bit too England-centric?

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    • dannycricket Apr 7, 2021 / 6:44 am

      It’s you.

      Being Outside Cricket has always been England-centric, with virtually all of our posts being about the England team, the ECB or county cricket. That’s always been where our main interest lies. Given this also represents the majority of what we tweet about, it’s fairly safe to assume that a lot of our Twitter followers feel the same. Short of a poll catching the attention of people who aren’t following us (as happened with Dennis Freedman), the person most familiar to English cricket fans would almost always win.

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  8. Marek Apr 8, 2021 / 11:21 am

    A(nother) quick shout of respect/sympathy to Matt Parkinson, the only man for two years in a row to have featured in every England squad of the winter–this year spending them entirely in bubbles and without playing a single competitive match in almost five months.

    And he’s now–as seems customary–been left out of his county’s red-ball team, this time in favour of a player who only made his debut last season and has six f-c wickets at an average of over 50 and a strike rate of 111. Not for the first time, it’s made me wonder about the merits of Glen Chapple as a manager of players, and whether Parkinson might be better off playing for another county if he seriously has test ambitions.

    And England wonder why they can’t produce spinners! Maybe Parkinson’s social media stupidity as a teenager really is more important for selection than his bowling ability…

    Rant over…:-)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Miami Dad's Six Apr 14, 2021 / 4:34 pm

    If cricketing nations don’t generate a lot of income to pay their players huge salaries, surely it makes sense to create a window where you just don’t schedule international cricket during the biggest paying tournament (IPL). I don’t see the need to create any form of conflict between the international game and your best players. South Africa already have a huge player drain with the Kolpak stuff – wtf is this series vs Pakistan looking to achieve, that it couldnt have achieved at another point in the international calendar? The IPL Saffers would wipe the floor with those left behind.

    Likewise, the NZ side could potentially be without Boult, Williamson, Jamieson, Santner and I’m guessing others (Neesham?) for the Tests in England this summer. I was stupid enough to get tickets for Edgbaston, mainly because I’m sick of watching India and Australia every other year, and now I’m partly hoping coronavirus sorts me out a refund.

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    • dArthez Apr 14, 2021 / 4:37 pm

      Well, they’re trying transformation – play a game without a bowling attack, and see if they can lose by 10 wickets if they post 200+ themselves. Just 26 of 26 needed for Pakistan to win by 10 wickets, with a double hundred stand for the first wicket.

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  10. dArthez Apr 14, 2021 / 4:48 pm

    Well, Pakistan collapsing from 197/0 to 197/1, with 14 balls remaining to get 7 more runs. About as competitive as seal clubbing, once the seals have already been turned into fur.

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    • Miami Dad's Six. Apr 16, 2021 / 4:45 pm

      The only thing getting anything out of this series is Babar Azam’s batting average, but really it should have an asterix next to it in the record books. International cricket without a country’s best players is dead, pointless, sack it off. England might tonk NZ without Jamieson, Boult and Williamson this summer – although if they’re without Stokes, Archer, Buttler, Bairstow etc, they might not. But instantly it gets a bit of “B” team feel about it. I’d accept less cricket, if this is the option.

      In better news, the county streams have improved a lot since I last delved into their options, and are a useful “working from home second screen” for my sanity. Craig Overton bowling well for Somerset, whilst on Day One Steven Davies batted excellently – always felt he was a bit unfairly shunted out by England without being given much of a chance following Prior’s retirement. I also got a decent glimpse of Mohammed Abbas tearing Middlesex apart for Hants, he was 5-3 at one point..!

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  11. dArthez Apr 19, 2021 / 10:59 am

    It will come as no surprise to anyone that the Members Council in South Africa have succeeded in rejected amendments to their MOI, which they had promised to pass a week ago. I will be grateful when the Minister strips the Proteas of their national character. Let the sport die, as the MC wants.

    Needless to say, this comes months before a proposed tour to the West Indies (which could well end up being cancelled), and the negotiations with SuperSport for the next rights cycle.

    Well done, professional . Whatever word bleep is, it would probably rightfully be insulted, and institute legal charges against me for being compared to the CSA Members Council.

    Like

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