What the Doctor ordered …

XYZ Newswire: May XX 20xx

Doctor Vijay Mallya hit the nail on its head, pierced the bull’s eye and put his finger on the problem all at once when he commented, “At the end of the day people need to understand that the IPL has a corporate side to it, and a very definitive corporate side at that. It is not at all cricket in the traditional sense.”

This was indeed refreshing news to be greeted with first thing in the morning. We happened to be staying in the same hotel as the Royal Challengers and were not shocked to find a slip of paper under our doors outlining Team RC strategy. Or so one thought.

In today’s world where people hear of banks rationing toilet paper, Team RC’s strategy wasn’t uppermost in the mind of the writer(s) of the piece of paper. It was about controlling the team’s expenses in these times of high inflation. A few salient features which could pass the test of the Censors are reproduced below.

As all the players may be aware, the US-led global economy is entering a recessionary cycle and the Royal Challengers team is showing no signs of coming out of one. As the good doctor mentioned, it’s not at all cricket in the traditional sense. The buzzword is ‘performance’. Repeated stress on this key issue seems to have inexplicably increased the stress levels of the players, coaches and managers. This is clearly unacceptable. The franchise is losing money faster than Ricky Ponting is losing friends and the writer losing his hair. With a view to bring back some semblance of business sense to the said undertaking, players are advised to adhere to the following principles.

  1. It has been observed that each player has been carrying more than 8 bats in his kit. Team work is all about sharing and caring. Henceforth, the team will have a rolling stock of 6 bats with 6 more being kept in reserves. The remaining bats will be sold off at auctions. Players are requested to get autographs of other teams’ star players to enhance ‘bat valuations’.
  2. For ‘home’ games, local players are requested to take care of their team mates’ boarding & lodging requirements.
  3. During the remaining tenure of the IPL, players will be provided with rations of 3 bottles of beer. This step has to be taken as the cost of a beer bottle for the owners is higher than the cost of bottled water, which is produced only to be displayed on TV ads. Players will have to pay a (subsidized) rate for additional beverages consumed.
  4. Players who haven’t played in a single match till date are requested to take care of the laundry of the entire team. A washing machine will be provided at all venues for assistance.
  5. All players will have to attend a daily crash training course for pursers. All future flights will have to be undertaken as pursers/air hostesses (there’s no cause to worry as all uniforms will be provided by the management). In an extreme case, a player may be accommodated as the co-pilot. Players with international driving licenses are requested to register themselves with the management.
  6. At the end of every match night, there will be a round of ‘match ka mujrim’ (for the uninitiated, this program is a witch hunt on a popular news channel after every loss of the Indian national cricket team) to decide who pays for that night’s drinks and dinner.
  7. It is proposed that Katrina Kaif be sacked as the team ambassador. A search for the replacement is on. One of the cheerleaders has shown keen interest in the said position.
  8. One of the members of the accounting team has expressed his surprise at bats being treated differently from abdomen guards and has ….

The remaining part of the text has been edited to prevent offending the sensibilities of the millions of sensitive souls out there.

One common refrain of most commentators on the Mallya episode has been – We told you so. This is what the IPL will do to cricket. Make it a slave to accountability taken to its extreme, at best and the whims and fancies of the owners at its worst.

What Mallya has done by publicly criticizing Rahul Dravid’s team picking ability is nothing but publicly castigating his team’s captain for it’s pathetic performance. Accountability may be one thing but the manner in which people are held responsible for a debacle is quite another. Mallya went too far.

But does this incident prove that IPL is out to convert cricket into a completely different entity. Let’s take the case of the other 2-3 teams which haven’t done too well. The Deccan Challengers seem to have been the underperformers of IPL season 2008. With big name signings like Gibbs/ Gilly/ Laxman / Styris/ Rohit Sharma / Andrew Symonds and Shahid Afridi, they can be safely called one of the top contenders for the wooden spoon. The DC owners may be extremely upset with the results, but one has hardly come across any statements or actions from them. Similarly Mukesh Ambani may have the right to feel peeved about his team’s standing and also the sort of team that was picked up for the tournament. No harsh words/actions from him either.

Maybe the problem with Mallya is that, despite his utterances he thinks he knows the game himself. To draw an analogy, one has to go back in time by just an year. The kind of reaction after India’s WC debacle from the ‘knowledgeable’ public and experts and the team selection demanded for the Bangladesh tour was very similar. They were over reacting and so is the good Doctor.

The English Premier League which is supposedly a role model for the IPL has enough and more examples of Team Owners conflicts with managers. Jose Mourinho, who was brought to Chelsea by the Russian billionaire Roman Abrahamovich, quit at the start of the season as matters between the two had come to a head. Two EPL titles in the past didnt matter. Ostensibly, Schevchenko not playing was a point of contention. Or so says the omnipresent rumour mill. But really it came to a standstill / standoff when Chelsea got just 11 points from their first six games this season and Arsenal and Man United were running away. Then there’s the current struggle between the American owners of Liverpool and their current manager Rafa Benitez. In most of the cases, team performance has been an issue. But normally the owners haven’t claimed to possess sports knowledge worthy of the managers.

Mallya taking hardly 3 weeks to blame someone for failure and the years it took for the Indian Sports Ministry holding Gill responsible for the IHF functioning are two extremes of the spectrum. It’s not the IPL that is bringing this phenomenon single handedly to cricket. The inexorable march of modern sport to professionalism will ensure its presence in the near future. Amen.

But, is it really all evil and dangerous ? Were the 1 crore bonuses paid to the selectors for daring to choose a largely newbie team which resulted in the ODI series win in Australia not “corporate” ? Are all the brand endorsements that everyone so strongly condemns as a reason for our defeats (in the oh-so-pure forms of cricket ) really a corruption of the game ?

Sure, Vijay Mallya’s behaviour was “signature” egoistic, but if thats good enough to generalise the corporate evil then we’ve seen it before.

Not that we agree but thats a bit like saying
Pawar corrupts. Absolut power corrupts absolutely”….

Posted by Rahul and Sfx


25 thoughts on “What the Doctor ordered …

  1. I agree that Mallya should have refrained from going public about his dissatisfaction.

    The flip side is IPL has made it difficult for cricketers to get away with excuses.

    We have been fed so many excuses regarding the non-performance of our team, it is refreshing that some one has exposed the excuses as false.

  2. Hats off Mallya ..

    Long time coming in cricket…Especially in Indian cricket. Happening in the capitalist version of football (EPL) for ages..Welcome it here.

    As the stakes get higher arbitrage (excuses / quotas) shud get lower.If it doesnt by the natures system of correction then we need a Mallya of sorts in traditional scheme of cricket too (non IPL)

    Too much money at stake for the richest bureaucrats to keep on taking the cricketing setup to dogs

    Also a small thing called the pride of the nation!

  3. Too much money?

    Whats a 100 million dollars for the likes of Ambani and Mallya?

    Pocket Change.

    And don’t tell me u actually feel that people will not buy reliance shares or will not drink UB booze just cause Mumbai and Bangalore’s cricket teams are not doing well.

    We have heard of the corporate evil everywhere… its brute, its ruthless, its egoistic, its arrogant, but then thats why the corporate world is the catalyst for economic growth. Thats where the money comes from.

    If there was no accountability, corporates would slack.

    Some take the accountability issue to the public some keep it indoors.

    Mallya is a publicity hound so he did in front of the world.

    Ambani is not, he probably gave a sound bashing behind closed doors. If it was the junior Ambani instead, you surely would have read abt it on the front page.

  4. though he went bit far…but i think this episode should be seen as another incident which will change the cricket forever much like IPL itself…at least in india…

    other franchisees too will drive home the point and will point it to their non performing ‘iconic’ assets which in turn will also get reflected in the selection for national call…

    for example…no selector will ever dare to recall dravid into odi team after IPL (if there was ever even the chance of that)…similarly with other non performers…it will be increasingly difficult for them to explain the logic…as happens here…

    in that way i am glad mallya did what he did…

  5. What will be interesting is when the trading window opens – how much will other teams be willing to pay for Kallis and Dravid if Mallya decides to sell them?

    And I hope they keep the salary cap going because it will make the trades so much more interesting 🙂


  6. Pingback: Indian Premier League - IPL » What the Doctor ordered …

  7. Well said. Mallya went too far, too soon. Judging by the pattern of the last couple of matches, the liquor baron has fired salvos before every game. Wonder what’s comming next.

  8. SP/ Homer

    Well I don’t think RD has performed too badly as a player. I really enjoyed a couple of his batting performances which showed that good cricketing shots can fetch you runs at a decent clip. After Warne, Mcgrath, Sanath and Polly – I am not sure whether RD is a correct example. As in he is a class act. My question mark would be more on players like Robin Utthapa. I really hope Mallya takes him to Bengaluru (as the rumor mills seem to suggest)

  9. SP,

    There are two seperate issues really. One is that of accountability of a system – and the other is of a corporate owner questioning the cricketing credentials of a legend (I’ll desist from using icon because with Rahul Dravid, sadly, the connotations seem to brush off his other legendary credentials).

    As far as accountability is concerned, there really is no reason it should be anything but the highest standards. Even with Mallya, we’re not questioning the motive (Brijesh Patel is his view of a remedial measure, and thats his right) – but the manner was atrocious. In corporate life or otherwise. Charu Sharma was not the only CEO to be summarily and suddenly dismissed recently and just to illustrate that it isnt a IPL phenomenon, the first other name that comes to mind is Malcolm Speed in the oh so proper ICC. Its nobody else’s business how Mallya treats Charu Sharma’s appointment but its the lack of grace with his treatment of Dravid and company that upsets. Its unlikely, for instance that Luca Montezemolo would question Michael Schumacher’s race strategy but if he would , it would be out of place as well. Thats not the same thing as accountability….


  10. SP,

    thanks for pointing out Bhogale’s article.. His views would be considerably different if the MIs had lost a couple of more matches. Anyway as sfx pointed out its the egoistic ‘I had my own team list from Dr. mallya’ that we are questioning.


  11. What does vijaya mallaya know about cricket. He only knows to take photographs of girls in bikini in the Goa and other locales and make his official calender. He is certainly a womanizer as he has money for him to speak.

    I think the cricketer should not play for his team. There is no corporate status to cricket. Its a game and let it be a game.

  12. Krishna Kumar,

    I could name you quite a few really good sportsmen who too have a lot of money and are “womanisers” … how is that anybody’s problem ?

    And do we really know how much Vijay Mallya knows about cricket ? Does he know more than you and me ? How much does he know compared to Sharad Pawar ? Does Roman Abramovich know more about football than footballers?

    Does Sachin Tendulkar know about the power of a Visa card that he endorses ? Is Boost really the secret of his energy ? Isnt that corporatisation as well ? Are you sure you want cricket bereft of all that ?


  13. SFX & Rahul

    mallaya never questioned the credential of dravid…as you said…

    we all face this day in day out in our offices and if we repeatedly do the same mistake and get away with it then its only one thing which saves us being brother in law of boss (as we all famously use)

    he merely asked some uncomfortable questions that given the freedom of choosing your own squad, your own coach and support staff…and everthng you asked for where are the results my friend!!

    nobody is questioning here what dravid did for india…its dravid as RC captain and team selection strategy which is being questioned…and rightly so…

    who with right mind will see Jaffer, Kallis (not selected by SA even for their home T20 world cup), sunil joshi, kumble etc as viable T20 players.

    I wont.

    even misbah’s selection was an after thought…

    people compare the failure of DC with RC…but tell me can DCs failures be taken as an excuse for RC poor, listless show…?

    as i said when you take others money for granted…you are bound to be asked some uncomfortable questions…

    and i bet other franchisees will be secretly congratulating mallaya for what he did…

  14. SP,

    Hindsight is a great advantage to have …

    Think back about which teams (on the basis of selection) you / we / most people would have backed – Deccan Chargers would have been a fair shot, right ? Would Rajasthan have been in your bet for a top slot ? Would Dravid have been okay if he had picked that team when he had Kallis etc to choose from ?

    I agree, and for the last time , the point of the post is not to say that Mallya was wrong or completely unjustified, but if your boss makes a public noise about your debatable mistakes , then there is an issue of grace and decorum and thats all we are saying.

    I’m not aware of anyone “secretly” congratulating Mallya, but if as you say , thats your bet , then good luck with it.


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