x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Financial setback for Indian cricket board

Withdrawal of sponsors Sahara India, cancellation of television deal with Nimbus and low TV ratings during last season's Indian Premier League provide a challenge for the BCCI.

When the Indian Premier League (IPL) shouted and screeched its way into cricket in 2008, who could have thought all that glamour, stardust, suits and dollars, would combine to produce, in its fifth season, Ravindra Jadeja as a headline buy?

Jadeja is not a bad player of course, but there is a middling inconsequence to him that is perfect for T20s.

He is not bad with bat or ball and is good in the field. It is a good thing for Indian talent and India that Jadeja is the fifth and latest US$2 million (Dh7.34m) player, but it also captures the gradual dimming of the whole shebang.

The real headline actually was not Jadeja at all, neither that Azhar Mahmood was the only English buy at the auction (and simultaneously the only Pakistani one as well). That was that Sahara, long-term sponsors of Indian cricket and owners of the Pune franchise, had bailed on both.

The reasons for the pull-out relate mostly to the IPL, but also to several long-standing issues with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

That leaves the IPL without two of its newest entrants – the BCCI terminated the Kochi franchise recently – and its plans for expansion shot. Television viewership for the IPL's fourth season was already the lowest it has ever been.

And it leaves the BCCI, the world's most influential cricket board, without a main sponsor and a television broadcast deal (it cancelled its deal with Nimbus Communications recently) and in a little strife.

Somewhere in London, Lalit Modi is laughing and tweeting away self-righteously.