BCCI Gains INR 218 Crore From Bilaterals Despite Covid-19 Cancellations

BCCI has made alternate arrangements for every match lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in a scheduling logjam this year. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting cancellation of matches, the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s balance sheet remains healthy without counting the recent IPL media rights bonanza.

BCCI has been able to use its good offices not only to overcome the entire revenue shortfall from bilateral cancellations (2018-2023) but will end up getting an excess of 218 crores from broadcasters Disney Star as per a BCCI internal financial note.

BCCI (Image Credits: Twitter)

BCCI Was Staring At Losses After IPL 2021 Suspension And Relocation Of 2021 T20I World Cup From India To UAE, But BCCI Planned Alternate Series For Matches Lost To Covid-19

Given that BCCI was staring at losses owing to IPL’s suspension midway through the 2021 season (it was completed in the UAE later), 2021 T20 World Cup relocation from India to UAE, and cancellation of several bilateral arrangements, BCCI swung into action, marrying financial muscle and shrewd diplomacy to stitch together alternate series for every match lost due to Covid-19.

Secretary BCCI, Jay Shah. Courtesy: Indiatimes
Secretary BCCI, Jay Shah. Courtesy: Indiatimes

It has resulted in a scheduling logjam in the back end of the current bilateral cycle. But India’s victory over Australia at the Gabba in 2021 has showcased the power of their bench strength. Since then, India has been deputing second-choice teams liberally home and away, softening the impact of excessive cricket. BCCI secretary Jay Shah has spoken of keeping a roster of 50 players ready to allow simultaneous series in different continents.

After BCCI sold the bilateral rights for a value on average of 60 crores per match in 2018, the first year’s contractual requirements went to plan. In March 2020, Covid-19 struck and two home T20Is against South Africa had to be suspended. In the following year 2021, Covid-19 continued unabated, but the sporting ecosystem found ways to survive by creating bio-bubbles and playing cricket inside empty stadiums. But the focus had shifted to safeguarding IPL revenue and relocation of the 2021 T20I World Cup.

BCCI Had To Cancel The 3 Match ODI Series Against Zimbabwe In 2020 Which Will Take Place Next Month In 2022

India could play little bilateral cricket at home in 2020-21 with one Test against England taken off the schedule and replaced by 2 T20Is. With the ODI Super League (every country had to play eight other teams home and away for WC qualification) taken off the ICC shelves, the commercially unattractive 3-match home ODI series against Zimbabwe was canceled.

To keep Zimbabwe cricket happy, India’s reserve team will be touring the country next month. In 2021-22, vaccines had begun to fight back against Covid-19, but outbreaks continued intermittently and quarantine days still ate into the calendar. BCCI’s cancellation backlog piled up with six limited-overs matches against South Africa and one Test against Sri Lanka not finding a place, resulting in a revenue shortfall of 541.8 crores.

Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant (Credits: Twitter)

In the final year (2022-23) of this bilateral cycle, the Indian board has gone the whole hog. A Rishabh Pant-led Indian team played a 5-match T20I series against South Africa in June. Having forged friendly relations with Cricket South Africa, the Proteus will be returning in October for 6 matches; 3 of these will be low-key ODIs.

To be played just before the 2022 T20I World Cup, these matches in all likelihood will see second-string teams from both sides. In the first half of 2023 – an ODI World Cup year – Australia come to India for three ODIs; they will also be touring India for three T20Is this September. Six more limited-overs matches (3 T20Is, 3 ODIs) each against Sri Lanka and New Zealand at home next year will see BCCI’s coffers brimming with 946.7 crores more than what was estimated from the current financial year.

The broadcaster Star will end up paying 6356.1 crores. That’s 218 crores more than what was set out in the original 5-year contract, hosting one more match (total of 103) than what was planned.  Be it because of bubble fatigue or excessive cricket, India has had to field seven captains across formats in 2022 and the star players have missed several matches.

BCCI recently named Shikhar Dhawan as the captain of the Indian squad for the ongoing three-match ODI series against the West Indies. Joining Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, and Jasprit Bumrah; Shikhar Dhawan has become the 7th Indian player to lead Team India in 2022.

Several key players including Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, and Mohammad Shami have been rested for the series as they might resume their game for Asia Cup 2022. To offset losses in the revised schedule, commercial considerations have been factored in — two fewer Tests, eight fewer ODIs, and 11 more T20Is, the one format which remains high in demand in the Indian cricket market.

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