With Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement coming close, there are talks about an uneasy change in Indian cricket. Talks of who is best suited to replace him for India at the No 4 position in Test cricket is right at the top. But his impact on other fields is massive and an ideal replacement has to chosen quickly. Aayush Puthran goes into detail and ponders as to who can replace Tendulkar for the brands and investors.
There is more to Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement than what meets the eye. It won’t be just about who will be the next idol for millions of cricket fans or what dilemma the Indian selectors must be in for no longer having to sit comfortably on their chairs while picking the No 4 batsman for India in Tests. It dwells more into the economics of the game, for the investors and the countless brands multiplying by the day in the open market. Who is the next face of Indian cricket or for that matter the game as a whole?
Here is the list of the richest Indian cricketers according to the data released by Wealth X
1. Sachin Tendulkar (age: 40 years) — $160,000,000
2. MS Dhoni (age: 32 years) — $50,000,000
3. Yuvraj Singh (age: 31 years) — $30,000,000
4. Rahul Dravid (age: 40 years) — $20,000,000
5. Virat Kohli (age: 24 years) — $15,000,000
As for now, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has comfortably assumed that position with his unique style and brand positioning; not to forget the quintessential emotional life story that goes along, of an ordinary ticket collector from a small town of Jharkhand to leading India to victories in the World T20 in 2007 and the World Cup in 2011. But, he is already past 32, with most of his career being overshadowed by a man who aged not just with grace, but also a childlike charm. To expect Dhoni, to replicate that longevity, given the way cricket fixtures are scheduled these days, would be a risky proposition.
The case is equally similar for Yuvraj Singh. His fight against one of the deadliest diseases has been an inspirational story and as Indranil Das of Kwan points out, his position as a brand will stay on even after his retirement. “Yuvraj may not be as magnanimous a brand, but will hit the right cords of a common Indian man. Few Indian celebrities have gone though the kind of physical battle that he has. He will continue to remain an inspiration for generations to come with his story and his image as a fighter will sustain.”
“India as a country is very emotional and Yuvraj has that emotional connect to stay on. However, as to how big that brand becomes will only depend on his on-field performances.”
Thus, the battle for the biggest future brand is expected to fall between the two most consistent performers in Indian cricket — Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara.
While Kohli has not only been one of India’s best and most consistent performers, his charm and brash personality has given brands a lot to work on. His in-your-face attitude has caught enough positive and negative attention. However, as Das points out, “Unlike 20 years back when the youth looked up to a good boy image of a Tendulkar, today’s youth look for more exuberance and rebels. Kohli brings that to the table. [Shikhar] Dhawan and [Ravindra] Jadeja also fall under that bracket. But while the former has had just one good season so far, it would be tough to judge him; the latter has been two inconsistent and since he is majorly in the team as a bowler, it gives him a natural disadvantage as a brand.”
On the other hand, Pujara was recently listed as the eighth best investment option in world sports, ahead of the likes of four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel among others. But it is easy to believe that the Saurashtra batsman does not have the kind of swagger or style that some of his other teammates do. But neither did Tendulkar have that to become such a huge brand.
Das says, “Sachin hit the peak when the Indian economy opened. He was the first Indian player to make it to the sports pages at such regular frequency. He was the first sports superstar of India, in that sense.” Talking about Pujara, he says, “Pujara is a trusted option and brands looking for a dependable and stable option would want to associate themselves with him. It is a matter of what kind of association they are looking for. Even as Kohli has been a consistent performer, his brashness does not fall in sync with his dependable game play.”
He also says that it won’t be about one man anymore as Kohli and Pujara will both have their own respective spaces in the industry. However, currently, for the next four-five years, Dhoni will safely sit perched on the top position.
Das also points out that even as Tendulkar retires, his brand value might diminish, but not eroded completely. He will continue to hold on to a slightly older audience. However, advertising as an industry generally caters to a younger audience and the spotlight will soon shift towards the likes of Kohli and Pujara.
(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)