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Cricket Inc., SHANE WARNE’S PREDICTIONS & LALIT MODI’S BUSINESS MODEL

This article was sent to the press even before the quarter-finals hadn’t been played yet. And the champion would have clinched the trophy by the time you’d be reading these lines. Going through these so-called predictions shall be, therefore, more meaningful for our readers.

No genuine and professional cricketer can really buy this T-20 is an anyone’s game argument. They prepare for every moment. They have come to the conclusion that two good partnerships take them to a respectable total and to have that respectable total, they need to play six productive overs on the loss of 2 wickets. They need to keep the board moving with a positive approach for rest of the match. And while bowling, slow-deliveries and following-the-basics do well for them. It is a safe game plan which can always be revised to counter an abnormal situation. They always have different contingency plans for the unfavorable situations. However the ‘business plan’ talks differently’

There was a series of upsets before the start of the fourth T20 World Cup. Pakistan had never won any match against India in any of world cup contests but did manage to win the warm-up match. Ireland, a minnow of the cricket world beat a Test side (Bangladesh); and England, a team of all-rounders, won the game against a team of specialists, Australia. These results actually broadcast a message to the spectators that they should finish their pending tasks before the world cup and should get ready for the exciting and nail-biting matches of a fast-forward version of modern cricket, T20.

Interestingly, these ‘upsets’ helped me recall Shane Warne and Lalit Modi’s tweets which indicate as to how this world cup tournament will go. For instance, Warne tweeted on the 16th instant, ‘Cricket followers! my four semi-finalists for 20/20 world cup: India, Pakistan, West Indies and Sri Lanka. Who do you guys think will be final 4?’

Was it merely a ‘prediction’ or something beyond a prediction as he did about England-India match in ODI World Cup 2011 when he tweeted, ‘My prediction’ A tie.

This prediction turned out to be the accurate one and stunned the entire world.

Shane Warne is not the ‘Paul Octopus’ but he likes to predict and is famous for his ‘predictions’ too. He has paid for his predictions in India though when he and Mark Waugh ‘predicted’ about the pitch behaviour before a match. That forecast was not made public then. Information was shared with a bookie actually which was leaked, investigated and brought to justice later on.

Since then, Warne has become a future-telling machine which predicts after keeping all the probabilities in mind, i.e. strengths and weaknesses of the teams, weather and pitches’ conditions, spectators’ influence on the game, bookies’ interests and above all, the business models.

If you take Warne’s predictions as merely predictions, please revisit your stance. You will have to inculcate an acute business sense before analysing the tweets of Shane Warne and a gentleman from Gujarat we know as Lalit Moodi.

For making the point easily comprehensible, let’s divide cricket into two eras’ pre-IPL era and post-IPL era.

Pre-IPL era shall be remembered as a witness of cricket flourishing as sport. Whereas, the post-IPL era as truly an entity of business. To get to the core, you need to observe as to which business model suits the most to attract customers and the stakeholders. Just have a glance at Lalit K Modi’s tweet on ‘unpredictable’ matches of IPL-5. He said, ‘But we can’t say really what is tough and what is easy in IPL! Yeh IPL hay boss!!! Anything can happen’ (just feel the intensity of this ‘anything’)

 This unpredictability has become the USP (Unique Selling Point) of the business we call the modern cricket. And the business model that is in practice and that earns millions of dollars for the investors is: ATTRACT CUSTOMERS AND THE STAKEHOLDERS VIA UNPREDICTABILITY.
 Frequency of unpredictable matches was never this much high until the IPL was introduced. The phrase ‘You cannot say anything about results in T20 as it is anyone’s game’ has attained the status of the universal truth. Spectators, cricketers and organisers, everyone talks of the ‘unpredictable’ side of the matches which keeps them glued until the match is over.  Ironically, for a keen spectator with an insight mentioned above, this unpredictability is an easily predictable phenomenon of the modern day cricket, especially the T20s.

This unpredictability has become the USP (Unique Selling Point) of the business we call the modern cricket. And the business model that is in practice and that earns millions of dollars for the investors is: ATTRACT CUSTOMERS AND THE STAKEHOLDERS VIA UNPREDICTABILITY. Under the flag of ‘Unpredictable’ ‘Anything can happen’ and anything means literally, ANYTHING’

This ‘unpredictable’ aspect of the teams raises a question; can thought process of a professional cricketer and a spectator be the same?

No genuine and professional cricketer can really buy this T20 is an anyone’s game argument. They prepare for every moment. They have come to the conclusion that two good partnerships take them to a respectable total and to have that respectable total, they need to play six productive overs on the loss of 2 wickets. They need to keep the board moving with a positive approach for rest of the match. And while bowling, slow deliveries and following the basics do well for them. It is a safe game plan which can always be revised to counter an abnormal situation. They always have different contingency plans for different situations. However, the ‘business plan’ talks differently.

Modi’s first tweet, ‘Anything can happen’ says all about the ‘unpredictable’  side of the south Asian cricket. However, more from him will guide more about successful business plans of cricket; when he talks about IPL-6, he tweets;

‘True test of BCCI/IPL management will be if they are able to garner the revenue as per business plan
‘As per business plan – all sponsor contracts need to deliver double the value to stakeholders
‘IPL management should wake up and ensure it is able to bring the confidence back with the sponsors. They need to at minimum double the value
World Cup business plan looks nearer to the one which was used in IPL-5. That business plan was all about having nail-biting matches, unpredictable results, new heroes and executing a tournament that ensures a win-win situation for all the stakeholders.
Fourth T20 World Cup and IPL-5 have few similarities such as:
It is being played at a land which is influenced by the Indian corporate sector, Indian board and Indian media.
Cricket in south Asia usually means cricket in India or with the help of India. Sri Lankan Premier League and Bangladesh Premier League were not possible without the involvement of the Indian businessmen and the Indian Board.
IPL-5 model is the most successful business model where you have lots of nail-biting matches’ and ‘unpredictable results’. To understand this plan, just recall IPL-5 and World cup matches held in India last year’
Such results attract millions of spectators and hundreds of stakeholders and the bookies who influence cricket at this side of the globe directly or indirectly.
Unexpected results do not mean that the entire tournament or matches were scripted but the question is why ‘Anything can happen’ at this side of the globe? Is it just about the game or the stakeholders, or the spectators’ interest or about the external powers which make sure that nothing goes according to the expectations?

This ‘expecting the unexpected’ philosophy surly generates better revenue and keeps the options open for everyone, however what surprises me is the fact that it never forgets to ensure a berth for ‘one’ team in final four of the tournaments played at south Asia.

Warne’s final four are ‘India, Pakistan, West Indies and Sri Lanka’ but my final four are Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia and South Africa.

I rate Australia and South Africa higher than India and West Indies because of their match-winner bowler squad. Any team can win a low-scoring match if it has strikers. Pakistan and Sri Lanka also have match winners but India has always been struggling with their bowling and the West Indies are also depending on Gayle more than anyone else.

Imran Khan, Ian Chappell and Adam Gilchrist agree that not batsmen, but the bowlers win the matches for a team. The batsmen only complement the bowlers’ hard work. One lethal spell of a match-winner can change the results. Surprisingly, the IPL business model is based on batting which attracts customers and stakeholders more than any other model. Reason? Simple! The probabilities with a bowler for a ball bowled are far lesser than those with the batsmen can dot a ball, score a single, double, triple, hit a four, hit a six etc. The number of runs scored is in hundreds, whereas, wicket fallen are 10 at most.

Apparently, it is the very ‘successful’ model which was used in World Cup 2011. ‘If India sneezes, the whole world catches a cold,’ said Geoffrey Boycott. I believe, entire modern cricket especially which is played in South Asia revolves around India.

My final fours are those who play competitive cricket at any soil and in whatever conditions.

However, Warne’s final four, I am afraid, shall prove to the ‘real’ ones, for he knows the business-stained ‘dynamics’ of the modern cricket better than I do. To prevent the cricketing world from catching a cold, I will also go with the first names from Warne’s ‘prediction’, regardless of the fact that they play without match-winning bowlers.

By: Ahmad Fuad

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