‘The IPL is fatafat cricket’ (17 Mar 2008)
The Rediff Cricket Interview | Rajiv Shukla
Journalist-turned politician Rajiv Shukla is better know as vice-president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. The director of Bhagwan Allah God (BAG) Films, which wife Anuradha Prasad successfully runs, Shukla has a canny sense of politics. His in-depth knowledge of the political jungle of Uttar Pradesh and networking skills in the film and cricket world has taken him places.
A Rajya Sabha member, he is also part of the Congresss media team and has a good rapport with Priyanka Vadra. His family relationship with film star Shah Rukh Khan is a matter of envy, but Shukla also has the flair to balance his rapport with two stalwarts of the Indian cricket establishment — Sharad Pawar and Arun Jaitely.
· The Indian Premier League
· Dravid ready for Twenty20 challenge
The IPL is not in response to the ICL at all. The concept of the IPL was conceived long back. Originally, it was Sharad Pawars idea. Later, the concept was built upon by Lalit Modi. Then IMG [International Management Group] entered. There is a governing council comprising Lalit Modi, myself, Arun Jaitely, Ravi Shastri, MAK Pataudi, Sunil Gavaskar [Images] and Chirayu Amin. I dont think the IPL was formed in reaction to the ICL. I still maintain that there is no confrontation with the ICL. They should do their job and we are doing our own job.
Will the money get you results?
Without playing the IPL our cricketers are becoming millionaires, so the so-called effect of big money on humble players cant be traced to the IPL. If it [the negative impact of money] is there it should be already present. Its a myth, a misconception, that players get carried away by money. I dont know why this phobia of money is being generated. There are other sectors where money is coming and people are welcoming it. We are not taking money from the governments coffers. The corporate sector is voluntarily coming and bidding for the game. They are giving money; we are not taking public money.
It is true that the Ranji Trophy is not getting an audience, but it is continuing. Through it the junior cricket games are working well. The element of nationalism or, I should say, jingoism is absent there, so crowds are not coming to see Ranji [matches]. But through Ranji events we are able to produce these talents. Remember, Ranji [Trophy] is not 20-20.
· Dhoni, Symonds top IPL players auction
Why are other sports not as popular as cricket? Because, they are not well-organised as the BCCI is able to; they are not able to produce talent as the BCCI is able to. Because of the effort and endeavour put in by the BCCI the game is very popular. Only when people are attracted does money come. Always, money comes later; it doesnt arrive first. I am bullish about the IPL and I think the audience will come. We will get a crowd at most stadiums, but it has to be the mix of the game and entertainment, so that people dont get bored.
People will throng the stadiums because its a different combination, which includes foreign players and celebrities. The Ranji Trophy doesnt have the 20-20 format. This is one-and-half hour of quick cricket with entertainment, where people will go for fun. The IPL is fatafat [fast] cricket! In fact, the players are jumping over the idea of the IPL. They are bullish and happy over it. Now there will be the larger bank of players, not just Dhoni or Indian players. The Australians and other countries players are happy too. Everybody wants to play for the IPL.
You should admire the kind of name India has generated through this IPL all over the world. Preity Zinta and others are completely dedicated. Preity was working day and night before the auction. Now-a-days, Shah Rukh is eating cricket, drinking cricket and sleeping with cricket. He is busy in deciding how to put up the team, how to merchandise, how to make the event lively. Franchises will be spending around Rs 50 to 60 crore per team.
I am a member of the governing council of the IPL, so I would say all the teams are great. Everybody has stars and a good combination of players, but in the case of Kolkatta, Mohali and Mumbai even the team owners are stars.