Rais­ing the T10 bar by cut­ting out neg­a­tiv­ity

SHAJI UL MULK

Sport360 - - News - Neg­a­tive news b @ajvk1984 ✉ By Ajit Vi­jayku­mar ajitvi­jayku­[email protected]

T10 League chair­man Shaji Ul Mulk is tar­get­ing more matches and In­dian play­ers in 2019 to take the league to the next level.

The sec­ond edi­tion in Shar­jah saw the tour­na­ment in­crease in size, go­ing up to eight teams play­ing across 12 days from the first edi­tion where six teams clashed over four days.

The pres­ence of eight In­dian play­ers, in­clud­ing well known names like Za­heer Khan and RP Singh, and the hir­ing of In­dian Pre­mier League hon­cho Arvin­der Singh, en­er­gised the league.

The league had re­ceived neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of Pak­istan Su­per League fran­chise owner Sal­man Iqbal as pres­i­dent of T10 and is­sues sur­round­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion of con­tracted Pak­istan play­ers, along with fi­nan­cial im­pro­pri­ety charges on its then spon­sor Heera Group.

Also, a court ver­dict in Pak­istan or­der­ing a change to the team name of T10 out­fit Karachi­ans for be­ing pho­net­i­cally sim­i­lar to that of PSL team Karachi Kings, owned by Iqbal, forced a last-minute al­ter­ation to the name Sind­his.

But af­ter the suc­cess­ful con­clu­sion of the sec­ond edi­tion of the tour­na­ment, Shaji is look­ing at con­sol­i­da­tion in 2019 but added there is al­ways scope for more matches and more In­dian names.

“We would like to con­sol­i­date. We have a clean slot next year – mid­dle of Oc­to­ber, early Novem­ber. We will be work­ing with the Afghanistan Cricket Board to en­sure our cricket doesn’t clash (with the Afghanistan Pre­mier Le­gaue). There isn’t much cricket hap­pen­ing in those days, which means more in­ter­na­tional play­ers of even higher qual­ity com­ing,” Shaji told Sport360°.

“Be­ing the first league out­side the IPL to have In­dian play­ers is a huge achieve­ment. And we have done that. The In­dian mar­ket is warm­ing up to T10. These fac­tors have given a shot in the arm to the prop­erty. Our strat­egy is clear – to get more In­dian play­ers next year.”

Hav­ing eight In­dian play­ers, even if re­tired, is no mean feat as no other tour­na­ment out­side the IPL boasts such num­bers. Shaji said land­ing play­ers like Za­heer was a ma­jor coup.

He said: “Eight In­dian play­ers was a bril­liant coup by our man­age­ment, par­tic­u­larly Arvin­der and (North­ern War­riors coach and for­mer In­dia all­rounder) Robin Singh. They played a big role in con­vinc­ing In­dian play­ers. Praveen Ku­mar re­tired for T10 as he was a cur­rent crick­eter. All In­dian play­ers per­formed bril­liantly. Mu­naf Pa­tel was tak­ing wick­ets, RP Singh as well. Pravin Tambe took a five wicket haul in­clud­ing a hat-trick.

“Hav­ing In­dian play­ers was a real shot in the arm, no doubt about it. It makes per­fect com­mer­cial sense. It is com­mon knowl­edge that 85 per cent of world cricket rev­enue comes from In­dia. That’s where any suc­cess­ful cricket league would want to have a share.”

Shaji added that while there is temp­ta­tion to bring­ing in more teams, he is happy with the num­bers in hand. “We will like to stay with eight teams for now, it’s a good com­bi­na­tion. We might in­crease the num­ber of games from 29 to 34. We are talk­ing to dif­fer­ent boards to have an­other T10 in one more coun­try. Or even play a few ex­ist­ing T10 games in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries,” he ex­plained.

Shaji cred­ited a new chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer in Arvin­der for stream­lin­ing the func­tion­ing of the league which has re­sulted in height­ened com­mer­cial in­ter­est from po­ten­tial in­vestors af­ter the league ba­si­cally tripled in size af­ter the ad­di­tion of two more teams – Sind­his and North­ern War­riors.

“Not just the lo­gis­tics, but the whole scope of work tripled for us. Play­ers had to be ac­com­mo­dated for 12 days, mul­ti­ple matches had to be sched­uled,” he added.

“Get­ting Arvin­der on board as chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer made a big dif­fer­ence. He has 10 years of IPL ex­pe­ri­ence run­ning teams like Kings XI Pun­jab and Gu­jarat Lions. He mar­shalled the whole crick­et­ing af­fairs. Ev­ery­one could see how well the tour­na­ment was or­gan­ised.

“Val­u­a­tions have gone up. We have re­ceived at least six en­quiries for buy­ing shares in ex­ist­ing teams or buy­ing news teams. It shows us the de­mand. It’s a val­u­a­tion game more than im­me­di­ate profit and loss anal­y­sis.”

The neg­a­tive news cy­cle sur­round­ing Iqbal’s exit and con­tro­versy over ear­lier ti­tle spon­sor Heera Group didn’t de­ter the T10 boss. A new spon­sor was found in the Ghalia Group and things fell into place.

Ac­cord­ing to Shaji, it was just a short cy­cle of neg­a­tive news from one sec­tion in Pak­istan.

He said: “We stuck to the truth. The neg­a­tive cam­paign was one man’s story. It was his (Iqbal) vested in­ter­est as he tried to put false claims on the league. And we took a pro­fes­sional ap­proach and let our le­gal team han­dle that.

“When Iqbal re­signed, he was de­mand­ing shares from us. It was a com­mer­cial is­sue. When that is­sue was not con­cluded to his sat­is­fac­tion, he went into a neg­a­tive cam­paign think­ing that since he has me­dia power (as owner of ARY me­dia group) he can rally news around it. Luck­ily for us, me­dia was fair. It ended up just one chan­nel talk­ing neg­a­tively and a hun­dred other seg­ments talk­ing of the T10 tour­na­ment.

“Ti­tle spon­sors was an over­played is­sue. Heera Group were spon­sors last year. The minute re­port came from In­dia about in­ves­ti­ga­tions into Heera Group, we took a de­ci­sion we will not be con­nected with a ‘neg­a­tive’ firm. We quickly got on board with a much more pow­er­ful group – Ghalia Group, who have a bet­ter com­mer­cial ad­van­tage.

“The is­sues were over­played. It was just a Pak­istan ter­ri­tory-based is­sue. But T10 League is a global league, it’s not just south Asian. The whole world was in­volved. One ter­ri­to­rial noise was not as big as some found it to be.”

It was a tense few months for the T10 af­ter a del­uge of con­tro­ver­sies. But as the dust set­tles, the tour­na­ment can look for­ward to an­other suc­cess­ful sea­son.

All smiles: T10 League chair­man Shaji Ul Mulk.

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