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By Ritwik Mallik
The announcement of the Indian Premier League (IPL’s) India-leg schedule has sure lit up the faces of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) bosses and the franchise owners. However, it has brought gloom to countless cricket fans in Jaipur, who find themselves caught in what is best described as crossfire between the Rajasthan Cricket Association (RCA) and the BCCI. A news report stated that the reason why Jaipur was not given a single IPL game this season is because the state cricket association couldn’t obtain ‘enough clearances’ from the state government.
Interestingly enough, the reason why a part of the IPL had to be shifted out of India was because availability of security would be scare during the upcoming elections in the country. Now, the elections in Rajasthan get over on April 24, a good week before the IPL comes to India.
Assuming that there could be problems in security deployment immediately after the elections, this news still doesn’t answer why Jaipur could not be allotted even one match in the entirety of May. And secondly, it makes no sense for a state government to not provide a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) for the staging of an event that could considerably fill up its coffers – by means of taxing the event, and other administrative charges that is usually levied on the franchises.
All these happenings indicate towards something bigger that has been happening in the backdrop – the RCA elections. The Supreme Court has in the past, deferred the announcement of the election results for as many as three times. While the fate of the candidates remains in limbo, it is understood that most BCCI officials fear an election result that announces the return of former IPL czar.
Lalit Modi might just be the key reason why the RCA is at the receiving end of BCCI’s might. Add to that, in a recent statement, RCA’s representative in the Indian cricket board, Mehmood Abdi has opposed the idea of BCCI president, N Srinivasan taking over as International Cricket Council (ICC) chief in July. Abdi has also filed an FIR, alleging that a match involving Chennai Super Kings (CSK) during IPL 2013 was fixed.
Interim BCCI Chief, Sunil Gavaskar has defended the decision saying that other cities have also missed out on action because of the elections. The former India captain added that there was a “bit of uncertainty” regarding the availability of Jaipur as a venue and the franchise was completely fine in shifting to Ahmedabad. Hence, the IPL organizers refrained from doing anything that could potentially disrupt the schedule.
What Gavaskar fails to understand is the fact that it is immaterial if the franchise owners are happy to move or not — the cricket fans of Jaipur who have followed and supported the team during its highs and lows are entitled to a reasonable justification from Gavaskar’s end, because the entire idea of the IPL hinges on city based fan loyalty that drives the revenue stream of its business model.
Merchandising, gate receipts and in-stadia spending are the major means through which the spending of the fans allows the IPL to exist as a profitable entity. Another facet that the IPL boss also misses here is that the unlike Chennai and Mohali, that are still getting some games – Jaipur is not getting any game which is bound to raise eyebrows. Especially if you consider the RCA election drama, something which Gavaskar can’t sidestep under the façade of calling it ‘sub-judice’
And if the inferences are correct and the RCA’s rebellious stand is proven to be the reason why Jaipur is missing out on IPL action, then this wouldn’t be the first time something like this has happened. BCCI’s ruthless stand towards erring state associations is nothing new. The idea is to financially cripple an association by depriving it of all the riches and force it to toe the BCCI line. In the past, during the peak of the cold war between Jagmohan Dalmiya and the Sharad Pawar faction, Kolkata’s Eden Gardens did not witness any significant cricketing action for more than a year.
However, the bigger question that needs to be answered right now is the fact that even after a Supreme Court appointed Interim President (and a former player of unquestionable repute) in the form of Gavaskar has been brought to run Indian cricket, all decisions that continue to be taken, reek of the previous regime. Is this the transparency that fans across the country, and especially in Jaipur, were hoping for?
(Ritwik Mallik, 20, has three widely popular novels to his credit. When not busy writing, he enjoys reading biographies, autobiographies and other non-fiction. A movie buff and a cricket addict, he occasionally debates and enjoys public speaking. He is currently pursuing his under-graduate studies at the University of Delhi and is the founder of an online magazine. His Twitter handle is @ritwik93)
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