Don’t think players will only play for the money: Sourav Ganguly
NEW DELHI: As the Indian cricket board (BCCI) exults post the mega IPL media rights deal, a lot of the attention has shifted to the impact it could have on Indian and international cricket. A day after the windfall, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly spoke to TOI on a range of issues.
How do you see this mega deal impacting Indian cricket?
This is a big opportunity to further strengthen Indian cricket. This will help the BCCI create even stronger infrastructure. The money needs to go to the grassroots. This also allows the board to raise the player fees across age groups and genders. The priority is to increase the salaries of women cricketers. We have already doubled the domestic match fees and the players will start to benefit from that from this season. And I also believe this will get more kids to take up cricket, as it has become a proper career option.
Was there any apprehension that the pandemic could have an adverse effect on the media rights deal?
We never had any doubts. The planning for the media rights started two years ago. It was meticulously done. It has been a great year for Indian cricket so far. We have completed the domestic season, have got packed houses back in stadiums, the IPL was wonderfully conducted and now this mega deal. I want to congratulate Disney-Star, Viacom18 and Times Internet for playing a part.
The IPL’s per match valuation has exceeded that of the English Premier League (EPL). England’s football team has struggled to win any big title for years. As a former India captain, is there any apprehension that players now will be more keen on the IPL money instead?First thing first, money can’t be related to performances. From the times of Sunil Gavaskar to Anil Kumble and Rahul Dravid, the money was nowhere close to what the players get now.
But all of them had the hunger to perform. I don’t think players will only play for the money. Players play for the stature they get and the pride of representing India. Every player would want to win big international tournaments. BCCI plans to get a bigger window for the IPL.
How much will it impact international cricket? Is there any chance of doing away with one format for bilateral tournaments?
Bilateral tours will continue. The IPL is an Indian tournament. Bilateral tours are for the rest of the world to generate revenue. Players from other countries need bilateral series. For the next two years, IPL will continue to have 74 matches. The next Future Tours Programme (FTP) cycle will have to be carefully worked out.
The IPL media rights have raised the bar. Do you expect a similar windfall when the media rights for international cricket go up for grabs?It’s too early to say. But the existing per match valuation for international matches was more than the IPL. Let’s see how the media rights for international matches go. We will have a package for domestic cricket.
What about the India ‘A’ programme?
As a policy, we have decided that we will not have India ‘A’ tours during Ranji Trophy season. We don’t want to dilute the quality of our premier first-class tournament. We want as many top players as possible to be available during the Ranji Trophy.
What are the plans for junior cricket?
We are U-19 world champions. We will continue to build on it. The emerging players camps will start once the zonal cricket academies (ZCA) end. We will be identifying a pool of fast bowlers and spinners. They will not get monetary contracts but they will get insurance and accommodation. The inaugural women’s U-19 World Cup is in January. There is a selection process underway at ZCAs. From September, India’s U-19 women’s team will start playing international games. The IPL has also played a part in increasing player fatigue.
Is it ideal to rotate players, especially with ICC tournaments planned for every year now?
It’s not. Rahul Dravid (Team India head coach) is looking into it. He has been planning to play a settled set of players at some stage. Probably from the England tour next month, we will start playing with players who are likely to play in the T20 World Cup in October.