Sunday, March 25, 2007

World Cup Blues

A good friend once told me that I manage to write decently, but I need to write more often. But i swore to myself that i wouldn't write until a topic calls out to be illustrated. (in short I have a writer's block made up of birla cement). But I guess now is the right time to scribble away my thoughts.

The most spoken about issue currently is that the Indian team and the Pakistani team are competing against each other to see who gets kicked out of the World Cup sooner. Well, as usual, the rivalry among the two teams deserves appreciation. Just as Pakistan proved themselves to be worse than Ireland, India rose to occassion and lost to the Bangladesh team. (Bongs, of all people!! God save us!). When the Pakis realized that we were close at their heels in this race, they decided that they had to try something below the belt and hence hired someone to kill their coach. (due condolences), hoping that they would be sent home after that. Unfortunately they were asked to play against Zimbabwe and they even won the match somehow. (they even dedicated their 93 run victory against Zimbabwe to Woolmer. Common... He deserved better!) And India grabbed the ripe opportunity, and lost shamelessly to a country one fiftieth its size. Hah, Pakis lose in this challenge too. Losers!

But seriously, who are the biggest losers here. The Indian Team members? They earn lakhs of rupees for flashing their teeth for twenty seconds for a meaningless television ad. A short search exercise on google tells me that Virender Sehwag annually earns 1.83 crores a year (wtf!) only to play cricket. Please note, this includes Rs 5o lakh as retainer fees. i.e. The BCCI is paying Viru half a crore a year to just stick to the team. (Muhahahahahaha!!! Like any other team in the country is going to select him anyway). And if you take into account his endorsement revenues (for lines like "make the world in your fist"), his annual earnings would suffice the next 5 generations of the Sehwag khandan to live comfortably.

Are the sponsors losing?? Thats quite a debate. Well, the corporates who really thought that backing the Indian team this World Cup was a good idea, will have to rethink their strategies again. Are we, as Indian fans losing? Well, again true Indian cricket followers would know the team is going to the dogs. I wouldnt know the opportunity cost of watching the matches on television since my hectic B-school life doesn't let me do so. Heh. I just pity those who had pinned down their hopes on seeing the Men in Blue life the heavy cup. Well guys, cheer up. You can still cheer your nieghbours who made it through to the second round!

Considering the fact that I am writing this immediately after my strategy end term paper, I do think that it would be a good idea to apply the "strategic models" on the coveted team itself. Lets start with the VRIO model.

Does our team possess VALUE? Consider top players like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Dhoni (who was once the top ranked batsman in the world, heh), Sehwag (whose comeback was a century, after a two year drought, against Bermuda, heh heh), and the others blah blah. So do we have the essential "V"? Well, yes, it seems like we do.

Are the team resources RARE? Hmmmm... considering Hayden, Ponting, Kallis, Gayle, Pietersen and the likes... maybe not. But also considering that the 11 men inthe team are selected from a cricket crazy country of a billion, lets give them the benefit of the doubt and do agree that these cricketers are a 'rare' resource.

Are these resources IMITABLE? Well, if you ask me, I think it would be in the best interests of any team not to imitate the Indian team. Hence I refuse to analyze this aspect any further.

And finally, how good is the ORGANIZATION? (I never understood this concept. so don't blame me if i don't do justice) From an outsider's point of view, the team seems to have all the individual talent in the world, but clearly lacks the skill to perform as a team when the situation asks them to. Well, why should they? Sehwag not only gets to stay in the team for scoring binary scores, but he also gets paid for it. Sachin will continue to get paid millions for drinking Pepsi, Agarkar will keep getting recalled to the team till he announces retirement and Dhoni can still afford to drink his daily dose of milk. And hence as an organization Team India fails once again, not a very big surprise.

The solution?? I am no great cosultant, but I would only say, stop watching cricket, stop paying these cricketers. But I am a true fan too, and I know that like everyone else, I would be screaming for India in the very next tournament :) Hence like any strategic analysis, this one is pointless as well. Thanks for reading though...

Sumana Manohar

P.S. I wanted to do the Porter analysis, but I couldn't decide on what the industry exactly was.
P.P.S I have been saying this for the past 4 months, but I will never get the heart to pull out Dravid's poster from my hostel room wall.