Saturday, 15 September 2012

High time for Central Contracts & Stadium

This article comes at a time when the Nepal fans are very happy with a great win the team got in ICC World Cricket League Division 4. The fans now are confident that the team has a good shot for 2015 World Cup.

While the team has done greatly and very nicely guided with the dynamic coach Pubudu, it must be noted that the team performance has not been due to some great work done by Nepal Cricket Authorities but rather than the passion of the players and some extra curricular activities led from the front by the Coach. The Coach got the Captain Paras to play regular Club Cricket in Canada. He got Shakti Gochan a trial in an IPL team, while 2 young players got a chance to play in Sri Lanka. These got players much some required exposure and regular match practice.

While the coach has been doing great job the organizers are nowhere near to what they are supposed to do. When I started following Nepal Cricket the list of to do's for Nepal Cricket remain exactly same even after so many years. Well the things in Nepal have changed a lot. There is a working democracy now, the civil war is over and the confidence in country is much higher.

Out of the many to do lists, 2 clearly standout. If these are fulfilled it will address many of the problems plaguing Nepal Cricket. The first & very very important is the Central Contracts.

Central Contracts are the very core to a sports team. It means that the players would not have to worry on the financial aspect of life and just focus on Cricket. It would also mean that unlike what happened in the past when Nepal have lost loads of U-19 players because they simply did not see any future in cricket can be retained. The U19 players now can see a future in Cricket. It would also mean that many more upcoming players in country would think of Cricket as an option.  

However many people would say Central Contracts are simply not possible. There are no resources. Countries like Ireland who get much more money from ICC are not able to give central contracts to all the player, even though they have private sponsorships.

I would like to simply to point out that Ireland get around 0.6 M$ from ICC while Nepal gets around 0.1 M$, but the funds received from ACC are much higher than what Ireland receives from ICC Europe as around half the development funds go to ACC. Also the per capita PPP income of Ireland is $41000 as compared to Nepal's $1250 and a purchasing power of Dollar in Nepal is 2.5 times more than Ireland. This simply means that funding of Nepal puts in a much stronger position than that of Ireland. A average central contract in Nepal of 25000 Rs (294$) would be good enough to start with while this is simply not imaginable in Ireland.

So definitely Central Contracts is a possibility and CAN should extend the same immediately to 15-20 Players. Government gave players 300000 each after winning Div 4, well that is exactly what is the amount that is required for Central Contracts

The second most important thing is a Stadium. The benefits of a stadium are numerable. It would give the team a place to call their own where they can practice on quality ground. Secondly the coach is really pushing hard for a National Cricket Academy. The stadium definitely would mean National Cricket Academy up and running and would be producing players for future

Sharjah Stadium: A stadium which changed the fortune of UAE Cricket.

The stadium along with TU ground combined can be used for conducting fantastic domestic tournaments and a fantastic exposure to even domestic teams.

However the biggest benefit of a stadium is the International Exposure Nepal can get. I tried to work on some simple numbers. If CAN invites India A for a 20 day tour of 1 Four Day Match, 5 One Day & 2 T20 Matches, the total Cost which CAN would have to bear would be around 1.1 Crores. This includes cost of India A team travel, Stay, Food, Facilities and also the cost of Nepal team and officials. Now under normal circumstances CAN would bear all the costs. But if Nepal has a stadium and even if 10,000 People(Much less than what people turn out) come for each match buying 150 Rs tickets, this would cover all the costs and give CAN a profit. The private sponsorships & broadcasting rights would be additional to CAN.

This means CAN earns and Nepal team also get excellent exposure. The people would also see some quality cricket and would surely want to watch it. Then the stadium can be used to host International matches. Imagine if the stadium was already there then Nepal could have been the host location for Pakistan. For Pakistan it would be a much cheaper home ground than UAE and surely with good crowd support. This also brings in lots of tourism in Nepal which surely should get Nepal Government interested

The Stadium surely would not come cheap. A decent stadium would cost around 5 M$ (45 Crores). CAN may not have all the money but it surely got funds from ACC, it can rope in Nepal Government and rest can be in form of loans. As we have already seen a India A tour can be profitable to CAN if used properly, similar tours can be arranged and the loan to be paid off. It is all about thinking in an entrepreneurial way.

These are the 2 issues which addressed by CAN brings in loads of good for Nepal Cricket. It brings in full player focus, better exposure to team, chance to develop domestic cricket, opportunity to get more talent and tourism for the country. In 2 words "Complete Package". So the cricket lovers and fan in the country should really push hard for both the issues to be addressed. I would be waiting for these to happen soon.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

10 Countries where ICC should invest in

Cricket has been rapidly expanding around the globe. There are now highest ever 106 members of ICC with another 10 ready to join. There are talks of getting it in Olympics and the IOC chief really wants that too happen

But there is another side. The ICC revenue's primarily comes from one country India. There are not many countries from where ICC earns much. Perhaps the other surplus countries for ICC are Australia, England, Pakistan, Bangladesh & South Africa.

The ICC works on a system where the profit it makes, is distributed amongst the 10 Test Nations and other 96 Associate/Affiliate Members in form of development money. This is in tune of approximately 7.5 M$/Yr to a Test Nation, 0.6-0.7 M$ to Top Associates, 0.4 to HPP Members, 0.1 to Associates and just 0.015 to Affiliate Members. This money is major source of income for almost all the 106 members baring a few named above. Without the aid the cricket in countries would simply collapse.

So this brings in a question, can ICC risk the present structure. In my opinion a big NO & for the following reason- All the eggs in one basket- India. If tomorrow another sport rivals Cricket in India it would directly impact the source of money for ICC and it could be disastrous.

So ICC is like a financial company who should want to hedge it's risk. So based on the factors of Sports Economy, present interest, History of game in all the countries, I have picked a list of 10 countries. Some countries presently are in good shape when it comes to cricket's standing in the country, but might not be very big countries. These countries are like low hanging fruits, where ICC should quickly work, and make the country self sustainable. Whatever little additional income these countries bring would mean ICC is earning and not spending in these countries
The second set of the countries would be where game might have some base, but if established there would bring ICC loads of revenue's

So let me share with you, the 10 countries where ICC should definitely invest for the future

1. Ireland
Obviously it is the first country which comes in mind. 2 successful World Cups, has made news both inside the country and outside. The win over England was covered on the front pages of all the newspapers. It is where ICC should invest in 2 ways, first is to get the team more matches with Test Nations which bring some revenue's and secondly a domestic structure.

2. Scotland
The Scots have really worked hard on the youth and many good players are coming in. Cricket has a strong tradition in the country and the future looks good. Like Ireland ICC needs to get them more matches. Also like the case of Rugby, where Wales, Scotland & Ireland have a combined domestic structure, ICC should work and establish a similar Structure for Scotland, Ireland & Netherlands and if need be extend it to Denmark & Wales.

3. Canada
The game is now well known in the country thanks to the absolute cricket loving 1.4 Million South Asian out of a population of 4%. Just imagine even if another 10% of country starts following cricket it would mean a population more than New Zealand. The game has been making right noises. The World T20 will be broadcast live on a major sports channel. This country needs some focus from ICC and it can be a major revenue earning country for ICC

4. Afghanistan
War ravaged, Terrorism, Taliban. Perhaps not the country you might be thinking for ICC to invest in. But do you know, that it has been one of the fastest emerging team. The Afghans are naturally talented. This can be seen by some of the best talent of Fast Bowlers emerging from the country. It must be noted that the legendary Pakistani fast bowlers are from the same tribes as the Afghans.
War or no war, this country once this teams goes raring there is no stopping. ICC urgently needs to get them more exposure in matches with top nations and their A teams

5. Nepal
The country has one of the biggest following of the game. When the team recently won the ICC WCL Div 4, thousands of fans turned at the Airport to welcome the team. Whenever they play a match in Nepal, 15000 people turn in the stadium.

Such level of crowd support can not be met by many Test Nations. These are placed where ICC needs to work faster

The game is the no 1 game like the other South Asian nations. The biggest investment ICC needs in the country is in form of a Stadium and help them establish domestic structure. With these investment the country can soon join the likes of top nations soon.

6. USA
USA doesn't need any explanations. The biggest sports economy in the world. For Cricket surprisingly the second highest internet earnings come from USA after India!!! The game is presently not in a healthy state in the country because of a pathetic Cricket board whose only job looks to be clinging to power and eating whatever money they have. The ICC investment besides monetary should be to get USACA, their board in order and then things will just flow.

7. Kenya
They had shown promise. ICC did not focus on them and then they lost their way. The country surely has got talent. Their board is now taking some steps to improve the game, but like most associate they also need exposure to better teams.

8. Netherlands
Netherlands can be the gateway of the game into mainland Europe, presently it is limited to British Isles. Netherlands have a strong cricketing culture but ICC needs to help developing the game at junior level and as already discussed help establish a Euro Domestic league involving Scot & Ire. If the game picks here then it is bound to spread to Denmark, Belgium & France. So this country is like the gateway to mainland Europe

9. China
China is the future. It is the superpower of sports. If China takes the game that means 20% of humanity has taken the game and along with South Asia that means half of the world is there. Not only by number of people, China is full of money and ICC can earns loads from here. What does ICC need to do, well simple, get the games in Olympics. We all know once the game is in Olympics China will get everything in it. Besides that ICC surely need to create many Coaching centers and Coached around the country which is the best way to spread the game. ICC would have to invest atleast for 10 years before expecting any returns

10 Argentina
Surprised. Well do you know before the World War, the Argentina Cricket team was almost as powerful as say the Kiwis. They had the largest British Population outside Britain. The game has a long history and at once time the game was more popular than Football. But with ICC's insistence of making members from commonwealth and British expats leaving the country, led to decline of the game.
Now why Argentina, the answer is simple. Cricket has got it's strongholds in all continents except South America. Also Cricket is to make a strong in Hispanic countries. So Argentina is the doorway. If the game develops here, then it has a good chance of taking it to South and Central America.

The ICC surely is doing some work but it is more general in nature. ICC needs to pick up countries as project and close them for maximum impact and let's hope it happens soon.