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BCCI in catch-22 situation with DD
Ashish Shukla | July 22, 2003 20:09 IST
Last Updated: July 22, 2003 20:21 IST
The Board of Control for Cricket in India is desperate to invite the Sri Lanka cricket team early next year because of compelling financial reasons.
Its contractual obligations with Doordarshan stipulate that it has to arrange for at least 27 days of international cricket at home, but the scenario in the present calendar year allows for only 20 days from the two-Test series against New Zealand and a 10-match, triangular, one-day fiesta which follows in its wake between September-November.
It still leaves the BCCI in the red on contractual grounds. Which means that if it is unable to meet them in the forthcoming cricket season, its final installment of Rs 460 million [Rs 46 crores] from Doordarshan goes for a toss.
The Board's contract with Doordarshan -- worth Rs 2.24 billion [Rs 224 crores] over five years -- comes to an end in April 2004, and besides 27 days of international cricket, the contract also stipulates coverage of 21 days of domestic cricket.
Doordarshan's deal with the BCCI is the largest ever single contract signed by the state-run television network for its 58-million viewership base. It beat strong competition from other contenders, including Sony Television, who bid at least Rs 1.30 billion [Rs 130 crore] less than what Doordarshan had proposed.
Doordarshan's reasons to join hands with the BCCI were obvious: Pakistan had just made a trip to India in 1999 and the two countries were scheduled for bilateral cricket series over the next few years, promising huge bucks for anyone who held the television rights. But the political climate soured in the wake of the Kargil conflict, freezing cricketing ties between the two nations.
Says K.S. Sarma, Chief Executive Officer, Prasar Bharti, "BCCI this year hasn't been able to fulfill its quota of 27 days of international cricket because the scheduled trip of Pakistan to India didn't materialize."
Sarma goes to the extent of suggesting that he will seek the domestic rights of India's proposed trip to Pakistan in February 2004 because of the deficit in scheduling -- an area which is simply beyond the Board's jurisdiction.
The Dubai-based Ten Sports television has already acquired the rights from the Pakistan Cricket Board for the next five years and could allow Doordarshan to cover the series only after it is able to beat the competitors in the bidding war.
It still doesn't address the dilemma of the Board, who after much mulling over it in its working committee meeting in the Delhi earlier this month, decided to pursue Sri Lanka to come over for a short visit in 2004.
It's quite ironic, but the BCCI will rather not have the tour to Pakistan in February next year and prefer to pay host to some international team in order to meet its contractual obligation.
The Indian team is left with little 'free' days. From October 2003, the visit by New Zealand is followed by India's tour to Australia between November 2003-February 2004 and then the proposed tour of Pakistan.
The BCCI realized early that it won't be able to persuade any "white" team to come over at such short notice. Thus, it started looking for help within the region and Sri Lanka seems to offer a ray of hope.
The visit by Sri Lanka will still be extremely tightly fitted since they are due to tour Sharjah and Zimbabwe in April 2004. In February, they play host to Australia.
It is learnt that the BCCI even briefly toyed with the idea of inviting Bangladesh, which it is due to tour in April 2004.
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