IPL has brought a new dimension

K. GOPINATHAN

The sacking of Charu Sharma created a sensation in the media. Given the timing and the reasons cited for his ouster, one has to feel for the man and also appreciate the dignified manner in which he has conducted himself after the event.

The IPL will be in its last phase when this column appears in print and in the first few days in June, one team will lift the IPL and it will be time for stock taking for the others.

The first edition of the IPL will no doubt make the administrators, franchisees and players aware of the areas that need improvement apart from educating the corporate houses and cricketers about each other. Before the IPL brought both cricketers and corporate houses in direct contact, the relationship between cricketers and corporate houses was restricted to specific projects wherein the corporate houses sponsored international tournaments and engaged cricketers as their brand ambassadors. The only consideration in this association was the mileage that corporate bodies gained out of the money spent on sponsorship and retainer fees.

The IPL module brought the corporate entities into direct contact with the cricketers apart burdening them with the task of managing a cricket team. This has served as a platform to assess the different ways that the BCCI and the corporate entities view performances. The cricketers will realise that the BCCI is not as demanding as some corporate houses as far as the results are concerned. Then, of course, the BCCI is an organisation whose main objective is to promote the game. On the other hand, the corporate houses see the IPL as not a medium to gain mileage but as an investment for the future. Hence the non deliverance of results will not be taken lightly as good results enhance the brand image which in turn will give the ROI.

The leadership styles have been interesting to follow and this includes the franchisees as well.

The franchisees engaged a CEO for their teams and left them to run the show right from picking the players in the auction. The CEOs had the benefit of their captains’ (both cricket and corporate) advice in finalising the team for their campaign. Quite obviously, the CEOs faced the prospect of being fired if they failed to deliver the goods as that’s the norm in a corporate house.

However, cricket unlike a business venture can throw up so many variables that can stump the most far sighted of individuals. More often than not even the bravest do not predict the outcome in this game. That being the case, the sacking of Charu Sharma created a sensation in the media. Given the timing and the reasons cited for his ouster, one has to feel for the man and also appreciate the dignified manner in which he has conducted himself after the event.

Looking at the episode dispassionately, Charu Sharma cannot be held solely responsible for the poor run of the Challengers in the IPL. His association with the game has been as an anchor on TV and though he does play the role of an anchor and the expert simultaneously at times, he would not have made all the decisions with regard to the composition of the team. One can only presume that Charu’s ouster was meant to serve as a message to the team but a decision in the middle of the season can only be counter productive. His ouster must make the players realise that in a corporate set up, one either performs or perishes. Besides, “the boss is always right” is the oft used dictum in a corporate set up.

In view of what has happened the players must thank the BCCI for being player friendly in more ways than one. It allows players to get away with major peccadilloes on grounds of sympathy apart from being undemanding.

Harbhajan Singh should consider himself lucky to get away lightly with his latest boorish act and one gets the feeling that it has reached a stage where the recurrent reprimands and soft punishments are making some players indifferent to the code of conduct. The apologies tendered do not really instill any confidence as the same player keeps getting involved in abominable acts repeatedly. Interestingly enough, the IPL committee more or less acted in a corporate manner by taking a quick and meting out appropriate punishment. The IPL committee will operate more on a corporate mode for obvious reasons and if decisions taken by it can serve as a deterrent, then there is no cause for complaint. The IPL has brought a new dimension in the sense that players will learn how the corporate bodies function in as much as the corporate bodies will learn that managing cricket needs to be done differently. Barring the Chennai franchisee, all others have entered into a new domain and hopefully they will get their bearings soon enough.

The stakes are expected to go up in the next year and as an extension the pressure to deliver will percolate to the team management and the players. Who knows, the players may feel the pressure more while playing in the IPL as it will not remain just a “cricketainment” always.