Payer to Beneficiary – The New Indian Express


Express press service

CHENNAI: Do you remember when the Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI) banned Kapil Dev, Ravi Shastri, Mohammed Azharuddin, Kiran More, Dilip Vengsarkar and Arun Lal for taking part in an unsanctioned series of a day against teams from the West Indies and Pakistan in North America in the late 80s? Six other active cricketers received hefty five-figure fines. The ban and fines were overturned by the BCCI after the Supreme Court ruled heavily on the body.

This is not a story about the ban but the story of the growth of BCCI. How did this miserly body that fined World Cup winners (Mohinder Amarnath was fined Rs 20,000 for calling the coaches a ‘gang of pranksters’) become a global monster? Why choose this 1989 incident? At that time, BCCI was forced to live hand to mouth. The losses they suffered were crippling. The state broadcaster, Doordarshan, used to be paid to broadcast matches.

A few years later, however, the country’s tax landscape began to change. As 1990 progressed, it was clear that the country faced a real balance of payments crisis. The centre, under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), launched the process of liberalizing the economy.
The rupee was devalued, companies were privatized and roadblocks were lifted to attract large foreign direct investments (FDI).

As New Delhi takes active steps to resuscitate a dying economy, BCCI headquarters in Mumbai sensed an opportunity. Trans World International (TWI), a subsidiary of IMG, won the rights to broadcast a single series (England in India in 1993). This decision meant that DD had to pay TWI to recover the rights, which netted BCCI a whopping $600,000. It opened the floodgates, but not before an acrimonious and bitter battle in court.

The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) wanted to celebrate its Diamond Jubilee in the grandest way possible. Jagmohan Dalmiya, then director of CAB, made a BCCI by selling the rights to TWI. In turn, TWI signed a contract with Star, an Asian channel newly acquired by Rupert Murdoch. The tournament, named Hero Cup, would be on Star, a first of its kind for an international match on Indian soil.

An angry DD cried foul. Several parties, including ministers, have been involved in ensuring that the High Court in Calcutta becomes the center of attention. The Indian Telegraph Act of 1885 received a lot of airplay. Remarkably, DD then called the CAB and BCCI “anti-nationals”. The first games of the tournament were televised. TWI equipment was confiscated by government officials.

India may have won the tournament but they had many losers and there were serious doubts whether India could successfully host the 1996 World Cup given the politics involved.

CHENNAI: Do you remember when the Board of Cricket Control of India (BCCI) banned Kapil Dev, Ravi Shastri, Mohammed Azharuddin, Kiran More, Dilip Vengsarkar and Arun Lal for taking part in an unsanctioned series of a day against teams from the West Indies and Pakistan in North America in the late 80s? Six other active cricketers have received hefty five-figure fines. The ban and fines were overturned by the BCCI after the Supreme Court ruled heavily on the body. This is not a story about the ban but the story of the growth of BCCI. How did this miserly body that fined World Cup winners (Mohinder Amarnath was fined Rs 20,000 for calling the coaches a ‘gang of pranksters’) become a global monster? Why choose this 1989 incident? At that time, BCCI was forced to live hand to mouth. The losses they suffered were crippling. The state broadcaster, Doordarshan, used to be paid to broadcast matches. A few years later, however, the country’s tax landscape began to change. As 1990 progressed, it was clear that the country faced a real balance of payments crisis. The centre, under pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), launched the process of liberalizing the economy. The rupee was devalued, companies were privatized and roadblocks were lifted to attract large foreign direct investments (FDI). As New Delhi takes active steps to resuscitate a dying economy, BCCI headquarters in Mumbai sensed an opportunity. Trans World International (TWI), a subsidiary of IMG, won the rights to broadcast a single series (England in India in 1993). This decision meant that DD had to pay TWI to recover the rights, which netted BCCI a whopping $600,000. It opened the floodgates, but not before an acrimonious and bitter battle in court. The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) wanted to celebrate its Diamond Jubilee in the grandest way possible. Jagmohan Dalmiya, then director of CAB, made a BCCI by selling the rights to TWI. In turn, TWI signed a contract with Star, an Asian channel newly acquired by Rupert Murdoch. The tournament, named Hero Cup, would be on Star, a first of its kind for an international match on Indian soil. An angry DD cried foul. Several parties, including ministers, have been involved in ensuring that the High Court in Calcutta becomes the center of attention. The Indian Telegraph Act of 1885 received a lot of airplay. Remarkably, DD then called the CAB and BCCI “anti-nationals”. The first games of the tournament were televised. TWI equipment was confiscated by government officials. India may have won the tournament but they had many losers and there were serious doubts whether India could successfully host the 1996 World Cup given the politics involved.

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