Kevin McCallum Masthead
September 21 2012 at 07:00

Down at the Bushveld Pub and Diner in Craighall just off Jan Smuts on Wednesday afternoon, the talk turned to cricket, to the T20 World Cup on the telly and to Afghanistan, who were taking on India and making a fist of it. The talk turned to what Afghanistan would need to become a cricketing power, to grow into a team that could give the likes of India a little bit more of a run for their money.

More top-level competition was the obvious factor. What else? Well, looking at a few of the Afghanistan players, a diet and exercise programme wouldn’t go amiss. There are a few of those boys who fill their pants. At the age of 24 Mohammad Shahzad does a rather good imitation of Arjuna Ranatunga. Mind you, the same could be said of a few of the Indian lads, who seem to be following in the buffet footsteps of their coach, Duncan Fletcher.

Cricket is a sport in which you can carry a little bit more flab than is prudent. The Indian Premier League is a tournament that has been throwing its weight around for some time now, but according to some Indian media, the IPL could be a lot skinnier than Kevin Pietersen and a host of others might like them to be. On Tuesday, Kunal Pradhan of the Pune Mirror, wrote that the “Indian non-Profitable League” is finding that they are not, as Lalit Modi once lisped, “recession proof”. In a league where no one was supposed to lose, the list of troubled franchisees seems to be growing with every passing month.

“As things stand, one team (Kochi Tuskers) has shut down, one (Deccan Chargers) has been dismissed pending a High Court ruling, two (Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals) are desperately seeking buyers, two (Royal Challengers Bangalore and Pune Warriors) are embroiled in company-level crises stemming from debts and litigation, and one (Delhi Daredevils) is starting to feel the pinch because its parent firm has been hit by the economic slowdown in the real-estate sector…

“The problem, top franchise managers explain when speaking off the record, is that the IPL, contrary to Modi’s grand declarations, never had a self-sustaining business model. It had ten different models, one for every team, and that each one was viable only when the franchisee’s core business was thriving.”

Essentially, the teams without huge parent body owners to absorb the losses, the ones owned by consortiums, have no capital base to fall back on. Teams have also been unable to sell themselves because of investigations into financial irregularities when Modi was in charge. Losses were hidden, profits were exaggerated, the dazzle of Bollywood blinded fans and media alike. When the IPL first started I told a friend that it had the sniff of a ponzi scheme about it. That wasn’t a strictly true economic analysis, but it seems that the fat days of the IPL are coming to an end.


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