Indian Cricket League

An upstart cricket league is launching in India today (thanks, Brij01), the Indian Cricket League. I know very little about cricket, but I know good marketing when I see it:

There are six teams: Kolkata Tigers, Mumbai Champs, Delhi Jets, Chandigarh Lions, Hyderabad Heroes, and Chennai Superstars. Each team has a number of players from the local city or region, two players from the national team, and a smattering of foreign players. They’re using the Twenty20 format, which means games will last just about three hours.

Speaking again as a cricket neophyte, I think it’s a great idea — the short games, regional flavor, and general non-stodginess might finally be enough to get someone like myself interested in cricket.

Of course, the quality of play has to be good for it to work. And they’ll have tough competition from another new league starting in April, the Indian Premier League (which is sponsored by the BCCI, and has many more star players than does the ICL). Do cricket fans think the ICL has a chance? Are you excited about this?

(Oh, and I forgot to mention: they have scantily-clad cheerleaders; more smart marketing, or a bit sleazy? Perhaps both at once…)

99 thoughts on “Indian Cricket League

  1. I’m surprised that there’s no team from B’lore… What kind of a national league is that?

  2. On a more serious note, it was really heartening to see high-schoolers, long-suffering brothers of internationals and well-known international players all playing on the same field.

    muralimannered, where did you see the game?

  3. Sport in India might just be looking up. For the first time ever, India is to have a professional football league.

    Has the sleeping giant that is India begun to stir at last?

    Small but telling changes are happening on India’s traditional sporting landscape. Some of the cricketers playing on ubiquitous urban maidans (open grasslands) these days are wearing Manchester United shirts. Occasionally a boy will even meander past with a football rather than a bat tucked under his arm. In a country of cricket junkies, where every piece of scrubland and every slum corridor is an opportunity for a wicket, it is enough to prompt a double-take.
    As India is transformed by unprecedented economic growth, the leisure habits of the burgeoning middle classes and the fabulously wealthy elite are evolving – and football is a beneficiary. At some, as yet intangible level, the sport is starting to take hold in the world’s last, stubbornly resistant mega-market. The adjustments are peripheral, but in a country the size of India, with its 1.1 billion population, they demand attention.
  4. “Staaaap! Wheare you vaant it? Release! Jujubeeee!” :D

    What I loved about the ad was they used a local accent to make the guy seem cool. They didn’t try to westernize the guy. Pretty fun ad.

    On the flip side. Pink uniforms????

    I always felt that if they want to promote the superstars, then they should not try to ape the longer limited overs format for 20/20. Let two bowlers bowl at least 6-8 overs each. You do not want to see a superstar bowler just bowl 4 overs. They have to make adjustments unique to 20/20.

  5. On a more serious note, it was really heartening to see high-schoolers, long-suffering brothers of internationals and well-known international players all playing on the same field. muralimannered, where did you see the game?

    I phrased that poorly–I just saw promotional photos on the ICL’s website. Isn’t Zee TV picking up all the games?

  6. are we lacking a sports culture?

    is it because ,in india,mass sports participation is related to income levels?

    Yes,we have had too much about cricket.At one time we were undisputed kings of hockey,but today we don’t even qualify for certain tournaments.anyone bothered about that?But when it comes to world cup cricket,one loss and all hell breaks loose.And if it’s against a minnow country like Bangladesh,it becomes a crime.Failure to enter the Super-8 is of course a national crime,which cannot be pardoned.

  7. if anyone is interested in watching, zee sports america is carrying the icl and other cricket. (also indian golf, football).

  8. In India cricket cuts across differences of language, region, and, to some extent, class. I am certainly grateful that I and a group of friends played the game in our childhood and youth, first with worn-out tennis balls and whatever was available to serve as a bat in whatever cramped space we could appropriate temporarily, and then graduating to a proper ball and bat (I remember seasoning one with linseed? oil) on grounds surrounding the spacious house of a Justice or other exalted personage, lent to us for a few months at a time. (Herewith my thanks.) Cricket can claim to be one of India’s common languages. I am not familiar enough with current cricketing arrangements to discuss the pros and cons of the proposed League. Nearly half a century ago in Philadelphia some West Indian construction asked me to join them for a game of cricket but their pace bowling proved more than I could handle.

  9. there is a charming audio-visual slideshow based on gable’s sketches that captures the ability of canadian football to lever friendly regional rivalries into nationbuilding. this crcket league could evolve to the same, as some posters have pointed out above. thought itmight be of broader interest

  10. oops. looks like anantha’s comments were very prescient :)

    IPL signings anger Cricket Australia

    looks like Cricket Australia hadn’t anticipated so many of their current players signing on for the IPL in April or possibly for the Champions Twenty20 League in October. which is very strange given that James Sutherland of CA was seen to be a prime mover of the new Champions Twenty20 League, along with Lalit Modi.

  11. Whose God..: Thanks… I was just coming here to post that link. I hadn’t realized that CA had been in the dark. So its not all rosy with the IPL after all. But what’s funny is that money definitely seems to be the carrot that’s been dangled in front of the asses (aka the international players :P )

  12. Actually, there was nothing prescient about it. Anybody who follows cricket (regardless of the teams playing) would tell you that players have been moaning about the extraordinary work load these days. Cricket’s governing bodies, most specifically the Indian board, are very adept in squeezing in one day games where there is space for none. International teams routinely play best of seven games (up from the best of five games series a few years ago). Also dead rubbers (i.e playing meaningless game 5, game 6 and game 7 when the series has been decided) are fairly common. The number of five day test matches that teams play has come down from 5 (or 6) games per series a few years ago to just 2 or 3 games (occasionally 4). Now since one day games are typically harder on the players than the five day games and because the concept of player rotation is more or less absent, players have been complaining, particularly since they are away from home for the most part of each year.

    So the IPL, whose signings were predominantly (if not completely) current internationals, was always in danger. What I did not anticipate was the disconnect between boards like CA and its contracted players. I anticipated a problem between the BCCI and the other boards, not between the other boards and their players.

  13. Whose God…: Just read your comment # 35. I stand by my comments about the Asian bloc and most specifically the Indian board. The Indian board is run by a bunch of jokers who are mainly old money, number crunchers. Most of the cricket related appointments are actually political. The other boards however are not far behind, but they at least have a framework and don’t work on a ad hoc basis. So with the framework, there is a chance that a sound cricket mind may come on board to run the organization if not today, sometime tomorrow. But with boards such as the BCCI, the PCB or the ZCU, unless there is a radical overhaul, money and politics will take precedence over the sport.

    I am not saying the BCCI is evil, but only that the BCCI is stupid. The old golden goose analogy is very pertinent, except that in this case, the killing is not instant. It is slow. Already stadium audiences have thinned, even in cricket mad India. And some countries (Australia for example) already have local TV blackouts for international games. And most of this is because of the overkill of games, a lot of which is meaningless. And the overkill is usually to satisfy subcontinental TV audiences, who typically watch only those games that involve one or more of their teams.

    So in my eyes, cricket’s downfall is originating not from the old boy’s club in London, but from the dark dusty offices at the Wankhede, the Eden Gardens and the Kotla.

  14. This ad is as good as any of the ESPN ads. I am addicted to that ad like crack. So many funny parts in the video. The way the other batter gazes on in bliss as the batter on strike is pausing the ball. The crowd going crazy at the end, dancing so hilariously and so hyper. Also I like the way he gestures his hand at the ball like he is manipulating its movement.

  15. Comment#58″Cricket can claim to be one of India’s common languages”

    Now it is the transformation of a gentleman’s game to a money grubbing opportunity.Cricket was a gentleman’s game played for the fun of it and watched for the joy of it.Many young indians who seem to imagine that winning or losing is a matter of life and death.The extent of this frenzied involvement in cricket was once again brought home by the report that a young man in Hyderabad watching one of these matches died of heart seizure when his favourite team lost the match.

  16. The Chennai ad is awesome, do they sell jerseys? I want one immediately. Who cares if it’s pink? Anything less than pink would detract from its awesomeness.

  17. I like the way he gestures his hand at the ball like he is manipulating its movement.

    he’s actually imitating the turning of a volume knob (his other hand is at his ear), telling them to get louder

    also, sadly, google tells me their uniform is actually mostly reddish with green

  18. Am I the only one who thinks that the whole cheerleader endeavour is sexist and retrograde. Am disgusted that such a foul experience has been brought into cricket. A Tendulkar ondrive or a Shane Warne googly is a bigger turnoff than any cheer leader. If I want to see some skin, I ll go to a strip club. Rant over.

  19. And some countries (Australia for example) already have local TV blackouts for international games.

    Used to be the case around the country but since 2005 this does not include Sydney and Melbourne for Test Matches.

  20. A Tendulkar ondrive or a Shane Warne googly is a bigger turnoff than any cheer leader.

    bigger turnon !! – monday mid morning blues

  21. If I want to see some skin, I ll go to a strip club. Rant over.

    yes, my aussie friend. cheerleaders are sexist…strippers on the other hand are a progressive feminist ideal.

  22. yes, my aussie friend. cheerleaders are sexist…strippers on the other hand are a progressive feminist ideal.

    well strip clubs are up front. they’re meant to be sexual. trying to get people’s attention for something that isn’t supposed to be sexual through sexual means sleazy and sad, in my view. e.g. you might take your kids to a cricket match, but i doubt you’d ever take your kids to a strip club.

  23. yes, my aussie friend. cheerleaders are sexist…strippers on the other hand are a progressive feminist ideal.

    Touche. Nala has explained it better than I did. The sole purpose of strippers is to excite various body parts. I dont suppose that is the rationale for cheerleaders. I am all for Strippers – in the appropriate arena.

  24. The sole purpose of strippers is to excite various body parts.

    Well, not just strippers. Anyone with a party bod can excite a body part.

    But then, this sentence:

    the carrot that’s been dangled in front of the asses

    caused a part of my body to rise on its own. I refer of course to my eyebrow.

  25. I dont think that these so called cricket leagues can make Indian cricket work. There is no hope of India winning a cricket world cup during the next 50 years.

    We Indians are plauged with an inefficient government that will do its best to see to it that none of our teams can ever become world class. BCICI could easily be the worlds worst managed cricket body.

    Even Kenya and Zimwabwe are more efficient in managing their cricket organizations.

  26. Even Kenya and Zimwabwe are more efficient in managing their cricket organizations.

    Oh man. Is this really true? Even Zimbabwe??

  27. Blithe (Comment # 65): the transformation you describe is cause for worry

    No it’s not a cause for worry, it’s a cause for celebration. If Indian sport can begin to come out of its genteel ‘gentlemans’ mentality then Indian athletes might begin to win something. Aggression and competitiveness and yes (metaphorical) do-or-die spirit is exactly what is needed. Bring it on, more more more please.

  28. What I find puzzzling about Indian test cricket is that while it is understandable that they are physically weaker and not as fit as some other nations, what is the excuse for playing without any strategy? Here is something that I always found puzzling about cricketers. When they want to give themselves enough time to get the other side out twice when they have a good score, why do they bother declaring with 4 or 5 wickets down? Instead why don’t they try to declare earlier by taking advantage of the wickets in hand and give it a good slog at 8 -12 runs an over for the next hour or so instead of declaring 2 hours later? That will save them an hour. Who cares if one declares at 600 all out or 600 for 5 wickets down? I would rather be 600 all out if that means I can declare an hour or two earlier. I find that cricketers seem to put their personal goals above team strategy. There seems to be very little thinking among cricketers. India can brag about their mind power, but they don’t seem to apply in when it comes to sports strategy. There is very little scouting of the opposing team done by Indian cricketers compared to baseball teams and NFL teams.

    And if I am a fielder, I would make sure I hustle for even the easy singles because that means that batter will have to run fast even for routine singles. A tired batter is more likely to be out to a careless stroke later on.

  29. It’s true, the only non-English word (sort of) is “jujube” which in Madras Tamil means insignificant, or something like that. See here for the full definition.

    I heard a “Sooooper Machiii!” right at the end. So I guess, two tamil words. The guy does a great Rajini impression, with the toothpick instead of the ciggarette and the”Jujubi” in the end.

    Thakida thom, Super Machi.

  30. I’m ignorant of cricket rules. can someone explain the hyderbadi ad to me? Seems like it has to do with the player being a good sportman but

  31. What does Super Machi mean? Super match? Whatever it means, itsounds so cool.

    The other ads suck big time. I was surprised that the Calcutta, eh, I mean Kolkata ad wasnt in Bengali. All other ads were in Hindi and not very interesting.

    Best damn Indian ad I have ever seen.

  32. what is the excuse for playing without any strategy? Here is something that I always found puzzling about cricketers. When they want to give themselves enough time to get the other side out twice when they have a good score, why do they bother declaring with 4 or 5 wickets down? Instead why don’t they try to declare earlier by taking advantage of the wickets in hand and give it a good slog at 8 -12 runs an over for the next hour or so instead of declaring 2 hours later? That will save them an hour. Who cares if one declares at 600 all out or 600 for 5 wickets down? I would rather be 600 all out if that means I can declare an hour or two earlier.

    short answer: they are not dumb like you take them to be. one day and 20/20 games are rigged in favor of batsmen—fielding restrictions, bowling restrictions (on bouncers, what can be called wides, leg side bowling is practically disallowed, etc.). which is why you see slogging, scoring at high rates, and the like. try scoring at 8-12 runs an hour in a test match like you say: you will unintentionally save several hours, not one, and the score won’t be 600.

    between 4 and 4.5 an hour is extremely good in a test match unless you are playing against a substandard team. scoring at higher rates implies there is somebody is playing extraordinarily well. not something you assume will happen when deciding strategy.

    and this again?

    while it is understandable that they are physically weaker and not as fit as some other nations,

    they may not look they way you like and you may be able to beat most of them up. congratulations. but as far as playing the game goes, on an average, they are neither weaker nor less fit. there are of course, a few whose fitness is questionable—especially among older players, and at least a couple of younger ones who play on and off—but when they are in the team, they are there because they compensate with some other skill. get over your superiority complex, or travel back in time where physical strength counted over everything else.

  33. No one is faulting over the overall run rate strategy. It is the final two hour strategy in both innings that is puzzling. Let’s take the current India test match with Pakistan. Let me look up the stats. India had a good run rate. However, what I was referring to was the run rate in the final sesssion before declaring. In the first innings, the Indian run rate actually decreased. They had to know they were going to declare after tea time on the second day. When Ganguly was out, it was 538 for 5 after 130 overs. They finished at 616-5 after 152.5 overs. That is nearly 80 runs off of nearly 23 overs. Why not slog and try to get 120 runs or so off of the same overs even if means risking getting all out. You dont think they could have hit those runs faster if they decided to go for it more aggressively once they hit 500? They could have been all out for 600 or 650. who knows. Then the second innings, they score 184 for 4 off of 42.4 overs. It would make more sense to score 150-200 all out if it means they could knock it off faster once they hit the 90 or 100 mark. If their target was to declare at a score of 184, why not try to slog it out once you hit 100? if wickets fall too fast, you can always slow it down a tad. I am assuming they declared at the end of the day. Now , it looks like India could have used a couple of extra hours to get Pakistan all out.

  34. When Ganguly was out, it was 538 for 5 after 130 overs. They finished at 616-5 after 152.5 overs. That is nearly 80 runs off of nearly 23 overs. Why not slog and try to get 120 runs or so off of the same overs even if means risking getting all out. You dont think they could have hit those runs faster if they decided to go for it more aggressively once they hit 500? They could have been all out for 600 or 650. who knows. Then the second innings, they score 184 for 4 off of 42.4 overs. It would make more sense to score 150-200 all out if it means they could knock it off faster once they hit the 90 or 100 mark.

    i suspect you see this as a batsman’s game—you are, of course, right in the case of 20/20 or one days where batsmen set the pace of scoring almost at will, the bowlers can only stymie them by taking wickets if the pitch permits and when the batsmen make mistakes.

    not so with tests. test bowlers can cut off scoring pretty much by the way they bowl—something not possible in one day matches because such deliveries would invariably be off limits. bowlers tend to use deliveries batsmen can potentially score on only because they are also the ones they are likely take wickets with—there is a contest here, not mechanical hitting.

    that is the reason a team cannot expect to take 100 or so quick runs in a short span, definitely not with tail batsmen, unless they got lucky. if you know the opposition is out to go for quick scoring, you can frustrate them indefinitely—and pick up wickets if they try getting the runs anyway.

    teams don’t slack at batting in tests, it is genuinely hard to score significantly faster than what india did—and it is genuinely hard to score much at all when your tail is playing both ends. if you don’t believe shorter version slogging does not work—all you have to do is to look at how badly many one day specialists do in tests with that approach. those who are succesful at both use different approaches, for good reason.

  35. that said, i don’t particularly follow (or even like to follow, to be fair) cricket mainly because currently my interest is elsewhere.

    i just don’t think it is fair to say that people who follow/play it do so out because they are unfit or are clueless when they play the game—many people you just dissed on the indian team are very smart, fit and articulate. not just smart—they have their hearts in the right place too—many work quite a bit with charities (not just giving money, i mean work), some have an education level and competence in that field that would be unimaginable for any basketball or baseball player (of course, i mean on a general level, there has to be some competent professional among the b*ball players as well). and as for unfit—at least one of them (not known to be the fittest) is quite capable of running 6min miles based on “non-professional observations” of him running in blore. which would put him as fit as the professional athlete (but not including specialist runners of course) population of US—most others are just as fit with some notable (and big) exceptions.

  36. some have an education level and competence in that field that would be unimaginable for

    … competence in a non-sports, technical field.. in the previous comment. sorry abt that.

  37. ahahaha!!!! i have to give to the tamils for this one!!! their ad was the best!! they must have good marketing skills! the pink uniforms r kinda sadd though.

    hmmm, i think cheerleaders would be regarded as sexual anyways in india, because they wear tiny clothes and also cuz, its “hot girls” giving a morality boost for men. My mom is one of those who doesnt consider cheerleading a proper sport.

  38. Bytewords, like I said, I am not questioning the overall run rate, just the rate in the final hours of both innings. When you declare both innings with 5 to 6 wickets left, let’s say you had wickets to spare to be able to take more risks towards the end to quicken the scoring rate. And slogging is possible because Dhoni hit 16 out of his 50 runs in the last 5 balls he faced when he was told there wsa only one over left before declaring. Until then, they were plodding along at 3-4 an over in the final couple of hours. Until the 500 mark, they had an excellent run rate for tests. But they lost the plot after that. I doubt the bowler just happened to bowl badly for that one over only. I have seen it enough times where Indian batters seem to play for milestones when they should be slogging it out in the final hour before declaring. Granted, it is not the same field placement as one dayers, but as long as you got wickets, there are runs to be made unless you have a tail that cannot score fast. Indians do not have a consistent tail, but people like Harbajhan can score fast. Even if he is out for a zero, there is nothing to lose.

  39. pravin, it’s not just about scoring at a decent run-rate. it’s also about eating up some time in test cricket. slogging and getting forty or so more runs has to be balanced against how much time you are giving pakistan to score those measly extra forty or whatever runs. pakistan managed to score 214-4 on the final day, with wickets in hand. if india had slogged more on the fourth day and declared earlier, they would have given themselves more time to get pakistan out, but that lead wasn’t enough to be confident of that on the kolkata wicket, which got tougher for the bowlers to bowl on as time progressed, and they would have risked giving pakistan more time to score those runs. pakistan only took 9 wickets in the two innings and india 14. india possibly could have gotten to 600 all out in the first innings at a quicker rate (but then wickets could also have fallen slogging to reach that target) but then that would have given pakistan more time to possibly build a lead and put pressure on india in the second innings – and given misbah’s and kamran’s resistance, it could have gone that way if a couple of the others had stayed as well.

  40. What kind of person in their right mind would PAY to go watch an ALL DAY EVENT where people are leasurely walking or jogging around and that ONE DAY is just 1/5th of the whole MATCH, which may or may not have a result ??? !!!! Amazing!!!

  41. “What kind of person in their right mind would PAY to go watch an ALL DAY EVENT where people are leasurely walking or jogging around and that ONE DAY is just 1/5th of the whole MATCH, which may or may not have a result ??? !!!! Amazing!!!”

    :) people with more hardy attention spans who don’t equate instant gratification with excitement/success, who value patience, stamina (physical and mental), nuance, strategy, plotting, scheming, negotiation skills, delicacy (and brute strength when needed, not as an end in itself), art, style, grace.

    and judging by the crowds at delhi and kolkata, this includes many young people, especially teenaged and younger boys and girls (who showed excitement one normally associates with odis or twenty20 matches). also, many women in the crowd- younger and older (and dare i say many attractive women?) clearly test cricket is still cool to some people:)

  42. WGIIA, my point is when you got a score as big as 600, there is really no downside in going for it, even if Pak has more time to score because then India could always have slowed it down for the second innings. I personally believe they would have scored at least as much as 616 anyway with slogging for the same amount of time and would have been all out. This is the thing. Forget my initial proposed strategy of pacing in the last 2 hours. If you know you are going to declare in 10 overs, and you got 5 wickets, what harm is there in trying to hit as many runs as you can in those 10 overs? They definitely score more than 616 if they are not all out. And even if they are, it wouldnt have been much less than 616. Same with the second innings, if you are going to give Pak a whole day to score 300 plus and you have 6 wickets in hand, they should have socred more and scored faster in the post tea session to give Indian bowlers a bigger target to defend AND probably an extra hour to bowl Pakistan out. You got the luxury of 6 wickets to take chances. It turns out Pakistan would have drawn anyway. But you gotta try. I just dont think cricketers with the exception of the Australians and a couple of other countries really do much strategy preparation in their game plans.

  43. They definitely score more than 616 if they are not all out. And even if they are, it wouldn’t have been much less than 616.

    Pravin, you have a point, but there’s also the psychological aspect (for both your team and the opponent’s) that comes into play – 616 all out (or even 636 a.o.) vs. 616/5 – which can affect the sessions that follow. That’s it. Interesting conversation, carry on, Pravin and WGIIA.