Subhash Chandra ought to be ashamed of himself. The BCCI refused his bid for TV rights, and he took it badly. Just to spite BCCI, he decided to start the Indian Cricket League, which caused BCCI to launch its own Indian Premier League. Today we had the first, and possibly most exciting day of the this league with various players being auctioned to various franchises. Shah Rukh Khan and other monied people inflicted their taste in cricketers on cricket and the public.
I have a hard time seeing Mr. Ambani as Cricket's Roman Abramovich. International Cricket has been reduced to being a faux-national joke. Some of the top players in the world will be playing silly cricket (twenty overs a side), peddling their hard earned Test match reputations for a few extra bucks. The game is shortchanged because its best exponents are reduced to participating in a farcical format which does not allow any real contest between bat and ball. The spectators are shortchanged, because they see a team sheet with some of the greatest names in the game, only to find that most of them are over the hill, playing a format which is better suited for under 12's.
Many people will seek to compare this with Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket. Packer Cricket was real cricket. Many of the players who participated thought it was some of the highest quality cricket they played. Real test matches were played and real contests were seen. Twenty20 by definition cannot produce a real cricketing contest, for reasons discussed before.
At the end of the day BCCI will make lots of money, but at what cost? Might they not have taken the Ranji Trophy and built it up into something similar instead, without the Twenty20? County Cricket has attracted the world's best cricketers for 40 years now. Why would Ranji Trophy not do the same? What is BCCI's strategy for domestic cricket? It is no secret that the Indian first class calender needs a wholesale revamp. Instead of rebuilding the Ranji Trophy (something which BCCI has paid a lot of attention to in recent years, with different formats being tried) and applying their business acumen in an area where there might be benefits beyond their bank balance, BCCI has taken the easy way out and floated a silly franchise based system. They have ignored their local associations, which are their real franchises.
In doing so, they have stooped to the level of Subhash Chandra. The difference between BCCI and Zee TV, is that the BCCI is the trustee of the game of cricket in India, while Zee TV is merely a Television channel on the look out for lucrative television software. The IPL weakens this differentiation. Previously, the BCCI's monopoly in running cricket had merit. Now, it is obvious that there is no difference whatsoever between BCCI and Zee TV or any other company that wishes to make a quick buck off cricket.
If you want a summary of the result of the bidding, see this. Suresh Raina $650,000, VVS Laxman $375,000, Ricky Ponting $400,000, David Hussey $675,000... Enough said!