Rise and fall of IPL brand
On Tuesday ’s order of the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha Committee to suspend two top teams that have won the cash-awash T20 Leagues in the past, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, for two years from the T20 competition is yet another body blow not only to IPL’s brand name but also to its owners, Cricket Board (BCCI).
It was in 2008, in the aftermath of India’s disastrous World Cup campaign in the West Indies followed by the floating of a rival T20 League - Indian Cricket League - by the Essel Group, that the BCCI finally decided to start its own T20 League and appointed Lalit Modi, who conceptualised it, as its supreme boss.
The ‘carte blanche’ given to Modi by the BCCI had its upswings as well as downswings as the suave former IPL Commissioner made it the hottest property in the game with his innovative ideas in conjunction with marketing partners - IMG.
The IPL blasted off in its first year to uncharted highs even before the start of the competition.
The sale of its eight franchise teams by the BCCI for hundreds of millions of dollars caught the fancy of the cricket world.
This was followed by the unprecedented player auction when Mahendra Singh Dhoni became the first ever million-dollar buy in world cricket with CSK, owned by India Cements, bidding successfully to buy the Ranchi-born wicket keeper batsman, increased the awe further.
The auction, held in Mumbai, saw friends-turned-foes Modi and N Srinivasan, the then treasurer and
chairman cum MD of India Cements that had bought CSK after a subtle change had been effected to the BCCI’s Memorandum of Rules and Regulations, addressing the media at the auction with beaming faces. Trouble started from the second year of the tournament itself as it had to be held off shores - in South Africa - as its dates clashed with the country’s general elections.
The end of the 2010 edition - held in India after a one year gap - saw Modi being thrown out of not only IPL but also from BCCI for life for alleged financial irregularities.
Modi, accused of violating government regulations in the running of IPL, then went to London where he is based now citing threats to his life from the underworld.
One of the original franchises - Deccan Chargers - made its exit after a few years to be replaced by the Sun Risers Hyderabad while two new franchises bought for huge amounts - Kerala Tuskers and Sahara Pune Warriors - were disbanded by the BCCI for non-compliance of IPL rules.
On the field also controversies have chased the T20 League.
The slapgate involving Harbhajan Singh and S Sreesanth in the inaugural edition, was followed by spot-fixing allegations in 2013 when three Royals players were alleged to have indulged in corrupting the game - including Sreesanth and Mumbai left arm spinner Ankit Chavan - and were banned for life by the BCCI.
This was followed by the allegations of betting during IPL by two team owners - Gurunath Meiyappan of CSK and Raj Kundra of Royals - which has culminated in them being banned for life by the Lodha Committee and the suspension of the two IPL teams for a couple of years from the competition.
Yesterday the BCCI also suspended Mumbai Ranji Trophy player Hiken Shah from playing any form of cricket after finding him guilty of “approaching” a teammate (Pravin Tambe) to corrupt the IPL.