The latest news regarding Indian cricket is that Zee Tv's chairman, Subash Chandra, has announced the formation of a parallel cricket league for Indian domestic cricket. Well, not exactly, but he atleast has plans for creating a parallel league, and as such, has applied for permission to the BCCI. On first impressions, this seems like a good idea, both for Zee TV, and for Indian cricket. But following India's early exit from the world cup, emotions are running high, and it is easy to view any radical idea as a step in the right direction.
In the short run, the parallel league will be nothing but a money making enterprise for Zee TV and the BCCI, which has been woefully inadequate in tapping the market for domestic cricket. The most likely structure of this league will be something along the lines of the PHL, with the tournament lasting a month or less. If Subash Chandra does manage to attract the best players from India and abroad, there is no doubt the players in the league will be exposed to high quality cricket for a short time. But this will not help Indian cricket improve any more than a few international matches every two years helps the associate nations improve their cricket.
Even with the parallel league, many of the existing problems lacing Indian cricket will remain. The dead nature of Indian pitches used in domestic cricket, the lack of fitness among the players, lack of killer instinct, et. al. are problems that will remain. This is not to say that these problems cannot be solved. In fact, in the longer run, it will make sense for Subash Chandra to make sure that these problems are addressed in the proper manner. If he plays his cards correctly, he will have a winner on his hands, and if his intentions are genuine, so will the BCCI.
This announcement would have pushed them out of their comfort zone. Already, the media and the people are waiting to scrutinize every move that the BCCI makes. If the BCCI does accept Zee TV's offer, it is going down a one-way lane. I cannot imagine the BCCI pulling out in a couple of years time when (if?) the league becomes widely popular and financially beneficial. Furthermore, for domestic cricket to improve, it makes logical sense for the parallel league to expand in duration and number of teams, and to eventually replace the existing domestic league, or at best, merge with it. And therein lies the problem for BCCI. For it must somehow ensure that its authority as the guardian of Indian cricket does not get diluted by its partnership with Zee TV. Zee TV, while promoting a package that will appeal to the fans, will try to ensure the best quality possible, and the BCCI will be loath to listen to a third party on how run the cricket in this country.
The bottomline is that Subash Chandra's proposal is a much needed booster for Indian cricket, which has hardly been able to get itself out of the rut it has gotten itself into. If successful, the league will make the players more professional in their approach to cricket, and India will have the strong domestic league that the fans have been demanding. There are many pitfalls along the way, not least, the question of authority, but none insurmountable. The only real issue is whether or not the BCCI will allow it's ego to get in the way.