Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Modi interview

The Modi profile based on this interview can be found here. There are a number of spelling and gramatical errors. Please do bear with them. Transcribing the interview was exhausting enough.

Was the board was underselling itself in the past?

Without doubt. There is no doubt that the board was underselling itself for whatever reasons. The value was known. It’s not that the value was never known. I had projected the value years ago in a press conference. I had made a presentation two-and-a-half years ago in Punjab. But even back in 1993, when I came back from the US, and I saw the opportunities that lay ahead for businesses in all spectrums, I saw that one business that wasn’t looked at properly was the sports business. When we looked at the sports business, we saw a great opportunity called crucket. When we looked at it globally, we saw that it was not being marketed in a proper manner by any cricket board. So at that point – I put on my hat as an entrepreneur – we launched ESPN. There were no contracts with any cricket board at that point in time. Prime Sports used to take the product and Doordarshan used to take it. So ESPN came to us and we decided that if we had to make a business model that worked in this country or any country, as a matter of fact, it had to be – number one – exclusive – number two – something that people would pay for – and number three – unavailable anywhere else. When you look at all genres of programming across the world, look at movies for instance: you can watch it on dvds, in the cinema, on video – there’s no hurry in watching it. But when you watch a sporting event, it has to be live. That’s where the value of it is. Once the match is over, it’s over. The results are out. Nobody’s interested the next day.In the US, the NHL, the NBA, the NFL, had all done it very well. But cricket in India in India was a religion. Everybody wanted to watch it, but nobody was marketing it in the right direction. So we then, at ESPN, under the nose of Murdoch, went in and bought the rights of the English Cricket Board, the Indian Cricket Board, the Australian Cricket Board, New Zealand Cricket Board, West Indies Cricket Board, Sri Lanka Cricket Board, and by the time Murdoch got wind of it, he bought South Africa and I think Zimbabwe. But we had pretty much wrapped up the whole world. Thereby we had a business model. In those days, also, there was no pay tv. And people, including Jagmohan Dalmiya, told me at the time “You’re foolish. You’re paying us so much money.” We signed a contract for US$12 million. Indian cricket had never seen that kind of money in those days. And [they] said, “where are you going to get this money from?” I said we’d get subscription revenue. And people believed subscription revenue would not be possible, that there was no subscription revenue in the country. So the model that I worked with ESPN on was that if they came in as a partner and helped buy the rights, we would guarantee bringing in x numbers of paying subscribers. We would build a network across the country. There were 80,000 operators in those days. Mom-and-Pop [types]. It was a challenge. And today, if you see, it’s a flourishing industry. Pay Tv is the order of the day. Everybody’s gone that route. It was ESPN that basically kickstarted the entire pay tv business.

The more we looked into cricket, the more we found that the business of the cricket boards was run by one or two people. There was no focus, no professionalism in the game. While TV companies had gone out there and were highly professional in the way they operate, when we dealt with the boards – which we had to on a regular basis – we always came across barriers. For the interest of the board, people for some reason or the other were not ready to listen or adapt or let the game go forward. There were vested interests, and within them even more vested interests. And there were roadblocks after roadblocks.

What kind of roadblocks?

First and foremost, rights. Once they realized the value of the rights, people wanted a cut out of those rights. They would want an X-Y-Z, I won’t name names, to be made the agents for giving the rights. In other words the money would flow through those agents. The broadcaster had no choice but to buy the rights from that agent. One particular board, say board A, would appoint an agent to market its rights. And the agent would buy the rights for say a million dollars. Then the agent would sell those rights for ten million dollars to the broadcaster. The broadcaster would make 50 million on those rights. So the value was never coming to the cricket board. Only to the agent and the broadcaster. If you start to analyse the last ten years, contracts of each and every board, if you look at the middle men in each and every board, you’ll find it to be a revealing story.

Personally, my interest in cricket started developing at that point in time because we saw the value in it. Thereafter we ran into roadblocks because we wanted to expand the game. One of my key projects in those days was to launch the inter-city cricket league. I spent a lot of money on it. I spent close to seven million dollars of my own cash. In those days, in developing the concept, we had the New Delhi Panthers vs the Mumbai Stallions and so on. We had signed up all the sponsors. We had approval from the board to own, stage, and run the tournament and we were going to pay a fee to the board. It was under the aegis of the Madhya Pradesh Cricket association under the chairmanship of Madhavrao Scindia. We had gone out and signed probably the top 120 players in the world, including in India, to play a domestic league, under lights, on a home-and-away basis. There was no concentration on domestic at that time. People told us we were foolish and wasting our money on domestic cricket as there was no interest. Yes, the point is correct but unless you build the property, the interest, and make people want to go to the stadium, how do you do that? That was a challenge. If you did it with regular players, it was a losing proposition. You have to fill up stadiums with 20,000 people, 30,000 people. They have to come and support their city. You have to pay the players well, and build things around it. Anyway, they killed that. We lost a lot of money. The reason they killed it was that one gentleman in the board at that point suwggested that we give the marketing rights of the tournament to an agent and then we buy it buy it back from the agent. I told them we were the broadcaster, and were ready to fund the money going forward, we’re paying the boards for it. Why do we have to take those rights of ours, give them to an agent, and buy them back? So [they said] “we will not allow any foreign players to play in your league”. I was like “that doesn’t make any sense because we have their approval.” “Okay, so we will not allow any Indian players to play in your league.” You are arm-twisted from time to time to do these things. So it died a natural death because we got fed up of it. We had already paid advances to the players. It was a sunk cost for us.

That led to differences with the board. I got more and more frustrated, because as we interacted with the board, we also interacted with the associations down the line. We fond that the associations had great potential but were not being run in a professional manner and didn’t have funds. The money had just started to come to cricket but was not being deployed the right way. More and more differences arose, and every time we tried to find a resolution, we found the doors were locked. Every time we made a suggestion, everyone said, you don’t know a thing about the cricket board, so stay out of it. This is our internal politics and internal way of working. That’s where things came to a grinding halt. And I said the only way to fight this is to fight it from the inside. By that time years had gone past, differences had been created between the cricket board, ESPN, and me because my interest was to make sure that we go in for a cleanup act. ESPN’s interest was to broadcast in those days, and members of the board used to say, “his interest is different, yours is different, his job is to take us out, your job is to get the rights. So differences were created. Then I launched Ten Sports. Same thing. Rights were being pulled out because I was involved in it. My agenda was simple: we needed transparency and cleanliness in the board, and we were not getting that answer. That’s what led to my jumping in and finding a way of finding a solution from within.

How’d you find your way around once you were inside it?

That was a very difficult task. First and foremost, we needed to find out which state association was ready to accept us and work with us. We spoke to a lot of members. One member who was key to my entire strategy going forward was Mr. IS Bindra. He was very straightforward and he understood the vision I wanted for the game. His vision was aligned to mine. He had done a lot for the board. He gave me the opening and made me a member of the Punjab cricket association, and I became vice-president of the association, which I still am. With his help I started understanding board politics and its issues. My entry was through Himachal. We found that it was a small state which had no cricket ground in those days. I offered to help them build a state-of-the-art cricket ground. Also, two issues: we found that if you look at the country as a whole, we had no summer venues. If we developed Himachal as a summer venue and built a great ground in Himachal, it could become a great focus for Indian cricket. We worked it out and I became a member of the association in 99. In 2000 I attended a meeting by the BCCI asa representative of the Himachal association. That’s when I got involved actively in the politics of the BCCI.

The mandarins running the board didn’t like my entry because the minute I came in, I began raising issues. They found ways of taking me out of the Himachal Cricket Association by applying…the local government had changed then, Mr Dhumbar had become the chief minister, he asked me to leave. And, you know, we don’t fight with political powers. His son became president of the association. So again, we looked at how to get in. I started to work towards getting myself into the Rajasthan Cricket Association. I found a district which I became a member of, which is Nagore. Rajasthan was core in a group loyal to Mr. Dalmiya. It was run by the Rungta family for 40 years.

Was it true that his wife and driver were members of…

Not only his driver. It was everybody. Peons, drivers, everybody. 57 members of the Rajasthan Cricket Association were members and peons of the Rungta household. We found that there were 32 district associations and 57 individual members. The individual members were Rungta’s family members. So I became a member. I didn’t give my full name in those days because my name would crop up and all of a sudden – pssch! – people would want to cut off my entry. So I gave my name as Lalit Kumar and not my full name as Modi. That was passed through and I became a member. Then I worked very hard to expose what the Rungtas were doing, running it like their fiefdom. The money never filtered down. You’d be surprised, a district association loyal to him would be paid 10,000 a year for running it, and the rest of the money would never reach anywhere else. Nor at the RCA level was anything being done. In land mass, Rajasthan is the largest state in India, and we didn’t even have one stadium. We didn’t have a single ground. Where did all that money go? People in the RCA had been presidents of the BCCI, secretaries, treasurers of the BCCI. Having such powerful positions in the BCCI, they never did anything to help the state. Also, there were no elections held for 40 years. It took me two years to convince the government that this is what was happening, and the government then came out with a sports legislation act which has now become a landmark act, and which did away with any private membership. Today, neither I nor anybody else is a private member. The government said that if you want to be a member, you can only do it through a district. When elections are held, may the best man win. Then I convinced all members of the districts that they had no power, that they were rubber stamps. They come for meetings, but what is it that is being done for them? I had a vision and a plan. But as they say, it was all on paper. At the same time, Mr Dalmiya’s propaganda machine was saying that I was a broadcaster who was interested in getting into the business of taking over the BCCI. So I voluntarily got out of all cricket-related activities and said I would have nothing to do with the business of cricket. I began devoting myself to the development of cricket. I spent a lot of money, crores and crores of my own money in fighting legal battles because there were a few hundred cases against people with vested interests so that I did not enter the game. But fortunately we were able to defeat the Rungtas in a very difficult battle and that gave me presedentship of the association. That was a year ago, on the 28th of February last year. Within one year, no, within months, we were able to demonstrate that what was being done at the state level was a joke, because when we looked at the accounts of the RCA when it hosted an international match, we used to lose 40 lakhs. I can’t understand, for the life of me, as a cricket lover, a spectator, why an association lose money on a cricket match?

What was it due to?

Corruption was rife. They would claim in the accounts that 25000 tickets were given free out of 30,000 tickets. But they weren’t given out free. They were sold in the black market. That’s a reality of the game. Secondly, the quality of the infrastructure was poor. There was no investment in the infrastructure. So when I came in, I convinced people on two counts: they first had to give me the opportunity to demonstrate, and I would spend the association’s money, so they knew that whatever I was doing, I wasn’t taking away from the association but giving back to it. So we hosted our first game last year, and I spent two and a half crore rupees. What did I do? I built new bathrooms, new dressing rooms, a new pavilion, Air-conditioned the players rooms, the pavilion end, I renovated it fully, cleaned up te stands, but money on the ground, madea better wicket, made facilities better. Then I put out the prices. They were higher than anybody else. We got revenue close to 7 crore rupees. We made a profit of five crore. Everybody was shocked. All of a sudden, from a losing proposition, it became a winning one. That was the start. People started believing in it. It was house full. Thereafter we did the Ranji… the Ranji Trophy match in Jhalavar. We had 24,000 spectators every day, for four days in a row. People came from everywhere because we marketed it well. We told the state association to take it to smaller towns. We invested in coaches, we brought in Bobby Simpson, we brought in Derek Symmons, we had coaching camps, we had Hanumant Singh as the chief of selectors, we had guidance from Raj Singh Dungarpur, who guided us in the right direction. There are great visionaries, but nobody to implement them. Even then, we had roadblocks. People are not used to the new order and new ways of thinking. My job is to give direction, but somebody to implement it. So I said we would professionalise the RCA. We would appoint a CEO. There was a lot of difficulty but I was able to convince everybody. Now we have a CEO who joined last month. There’s brand new infrastructure now, we’re tying up with New South Wales in a joint venture partnership. We have a tribals program coming up. We’ll have an indoor academy, an outdoor academy, a school coming up in Jaipur. We’re renovating the existing SMS Stadium, the government has given us land to build the world’s largest air-conditioned stadium, we’re spending over 400 crore to build the new stadium. There’s no problem in raising all that money from corporates if you show them the right vision, the right direction. We’re building a hall of fame, a cricket theme park around it in Jaipur. The stadium will be a 70,000 seater. People have seen that we can do it.

Do you think cricket will become a career option?

It is a career option. It should be.

But so far it hasn’t been one.

Not so far. I’ve convinced the BCCI. Our working and marketing committees have approved a plan to provide a clear career path for our cricketers. SO we will guide them in terms of investments, what they can do after cricket, what career they should have, how it will develop. Over a period of time we will have guidance councellors, people to advise them, and help them with their money. The money is becoming very big now. Right now people are skeptical, but it’s not mandatory to take the advice. What I want to do is provide the tools to them. We’re implementing that in RCA, where we are for the first time putting all our players on contract. We are insuring all our players. We’re giving them life insurance and medical for their families. We’re going to give them a career path. If they’re good, we’re going to hire them ourselves. They can be trainers, coaches, administrators, they can start their own coaching camps or medicine related thing. This is not my expertise, but we are going to bring in experts to guide them. My job is to put a crackshot team in place. There are young, impressionable boys out there who don’t know what to do and neither do their parents. So we’re going to guide them, starting age 12. We’re going to take the boys and board them, and if we see potential we’re going to pay for their schooling. We’re going to build them up gradually and show them a path going forward.

When you were elected, what issues needed urgent tending to? The board had been through a pretty damaging year on the public relations front…

Yes. Yes, the biggest problem we had was transparency. And why did we go through it? It was all to do with commercial contracts. If the board wasn’t upfront in the way it dealt with the broadcasters…there were so many vested interests. Some people were making side deals. The night we came to power, I presented my thought process to our team. They liked it and asked me to implement it. My job is to make the most value for the cricket board. I knew the ins and outs of production and sponsorship deals, and I knew airtime prices, broadcasting prices, I knew the television companies’ balance sheets inside out. I knew where they made their money and lost their money. So I called everybody in and played one against the other. It was simple as that.

How did you break up the rights into fragments?

Because I knew the value. With ESPN, I was buying consolidated rights. We would basically get everything for free and we knew the value was there. Everybody in the board thought we didn’t have the expertise to do it, that we needed a middle man. I said, dammit, it’s not rocket science; all we need to do is put out a global tender, call who is ther, lay down the guidelines, decide there will be no hanky-panky. See, what happens is, sometimes you put out a tender, and what you don’t give away in the tender, you give away in the contract. So if we’re negotiating and I like your face, I may give you something extra in the contract.

If you understand rights, because rights are changing so dramatically, and the digital world is changing so dramatically, then you have value. But if you give it away, it’s gone. So what we did was, we gave out very specific rights. A lot of people were very upset with me. In fact everybody in the broadcasting industry was very upset with me for carving it too fine. So I said, “I’m not asking you to pay me for what you don’t think has value. If you think the value is ten, pay me ten. I’m not asking you to pay me hundred. I’ll get the ninety from somebody else. I say, assume in an ideal world that we will have internet simulcast, mobile simulcast, TV simulcast, and new new technology that comes in simulcast. They said “can you then block off those technologies and have a one-hour delay?” I said no. They said they’d give me a higher price. I said I’m not asking for a higher price. I knew the game. The game is very simple. Block out everything else, they have their rights, so everything else is worth zero. It’s not even worth the paper that it is written on. So I said, no, that’s not how we would do it. Of course, I had my fingers crossed. But the objective was simple: here are the rights, buy them the way you want to, and put a number on the table. We got a fantastic number on the table, and we still have a large number of rights which we will sell.

And then I did another thing. I found out while I was in broadcasting – we’d broadcast a match for a day, repeat them the next day, and then they’d be shoved into a closet. Once in a while we’d take them out when there was nothing else to run. That was it. So I said that the rights we sold would only be valid for 72 hours.

The broadcasters had no further value for them.

No, there is a huge value for broadcasts in the digital domain. Now there is becoming a huge use for it. Now you have pay-per-view, internet. So when the rights revert to us, we are free to do what we want. They become something called archival rights. We could launch an archival channel.

In the years to come, the BCCI’s portal will be the number one portal in the world, by the sheer number of people who are interested in the game.

Okay. Now about yourself. Did you watch and play cricket before all this?

Living in India, you’re always interested in the game.

Where were you born?

In Delhi.


1963. I’ve always been interested in cricket. The Modi family has always been involved in cricket. For a long time my uncle was treasurer of the Delhi cricket association, and we always had a box right in front in Delhi. I played cricket in school but was never very good at it.

Batsman or bowler?

I was a batsman but not very good at it. I was at a boarding school in Shimla (Bishop’s cotton?!) and then I went to St. Joseph’s in Nainital. My main interest in cricket began in business when I launched ESPN. You were so involved with cricket at that time that the game just grew and grew and grew on you. I used to watch every match. I was glued to the tv.

You were in the states for a while. What were you doing there?

I was at Dukes University in North Carolina. I was studying marketing.

Did you pick up American sports there?

I was never very interested in American sports. The only sport I was interested in was tennis. I used to watch a lot of basketball because Duke was number one at basketball in the us, and we used to win the NCAA finals every year. I had no choice but to watch all the sports because Americans are into sports. I understood the economic model of the sports. The more I got involved with the tv side of the business, the more I understood the model of the sport.

[With ESPN] we hired the ex-baseball commissioner to teach us how the league system works, how the buying and selling of players works, contracts. We learn a lot along the way as you grow up in life.

Recently at a match in Chandigarh, the press received a sheet with tables comparing what Dalmiya had done and what this regime had done, in figures. How much do you think Dalmiya lost the board over the last four years?

It’s very very difficult to quantify precisely. In a ballpark, easily between 400-500 crores a year. Easily. Because if you look at the year 2000, that year Nimbus had made a bid for 500 crores for Indian TV rights, and we gave it for 160 crores to Doordarshan. Now, why would we do something so stupid? Because we don’t like Nimbus? That is only one aspect of it. Then at one point we were earning 7 crores a match and everybody said, “that’s great money!” Now you get nine million dollars a match. It can’t be possible that two months down the line you’re getting nine million. I kept screaming and shouting that it was wrong, that we were underselling, but nobody believed us because they sad seven was great, so what was I screaming about?

When I did the Nimbus deal, everybody said Nimbus would go out of business. I can guarantee you Nimbus will not go out of business. Nimbus will make 200 million dollars on that deal. If they paid us 600 million they’re going to make 200 million on that deal. There is a margin of 200 million on that deal. Without doubt. Zee came in and paid higher than what Nimbus was paying for the offshore matches. Now these people are not foolish people. They are businessmen. They’re running conglomerates.

If you take even the smallest bid, it was ten times more than last year. How come? Simple. The BCCI is not in for dealmaking. The buck stops here. There are no deals. I’ve got offers for many deals but would not hear of it. Right where you’re sitting I’ve had people come in and tell me to make the tender in a certain manner. But there are no deals. The deal is very simple: you come into the room, hand in your bid, and if you win it you take it.

Same thing for team sponsorship. When I did the Nike deal, they were hungry. You have to build that hunger. When you do marketing, you can be a laid-back marketer and put out a tender and you’ll get a laid-back number. I guarantee you that. Or you can go out there and be an aggressive marketer and show the value to them. How do you show the value? You show them the number of times they’ll be on tv, how the logo will be presented, the ratings of it, the viewership of it.

People said my numbers were mad. They tried to form cartels. My job is the break cartels. I didn’t want a cartel because they would undervalue my business.

When they say oh, such and such channel doesn’t have marketing experience, what, is the color of your money better than his? If he puts in 600 million dollars, isn’t he going to put in a marketing team? Are his bankers and investors foolish to let him put that money on the table? I think not. We have a country full of entrepreneurs doing many many things, and we have to give them the opportunity to go out there and implement their plan.

Are you, by any chance, libertarian?

Wha... wha…?

Umm… someone who believes in letting the free markets decide.

Absolutely. I believe in free markets deciding everything. If there is no value, there is no value. Let people decide. In certain cases you might lose, in certain you might win. You have to be risk-prone too.

What do you make of the government’s directive about the signal-sharing thing with Doordarshan?

I think it’s a little unfair. But on the other hand, from the BCCI’s point of view, I think it’s a win-win situation, and I’ll tell you why. Nowhere in the world would anybody give up its network for 25% of the revenue. This is a sweetheart deal for anybody who owns the rights. You only pay 25% to get the entire country’s viewership, live, on national broadcasting. The costs of the transmission, the transmitters, the station, are all on Doordarshan. For that they’re getting 25. 75% of the revenue you’re keeping. This is a no-brainer. Even for broadcasters. For 100% of the country’s eyeballs they’re paying 25%. It’s the best deal in the market today. I, being a broadcaster, would snap it up in a minute. [snaps his fingers] In fact, even if there was no legislation in place I’d be begging doordarshan to take me on. The government has interfered but it’s a raw deal for the government. 25% for doordarshan is a losing proposition for doordarshan. However, they make money. But then they’re not a marketing company. If I was Doordarshan, I’d look back to see my balance sheet, because if I own a network like Doordarshan, I would program it in a way that I’d take all the satellite channels out. But theyr’e not a broadcaster in that cointext. If I had that airtime, I’d sincerely wipe out every other channel. Why can’t I counterprogram star or espn? If I was in charge, I’d wipe out every other channel and get an ad rate five times that of a satellite channel. If Star makes a thousand crores, we’d make five thousand. It would be a dream to run a terrestrial network.

Back to the sheet with tables at Chandigarh. It seems like the BCCI is saying regularly, “look, we’ve got transparency.” Is it about image?

Image is one part of it. See, what’s been happening is, you’ve been hearing a lot of numbers. My job is marketing, so the numbers are probably coming more from me than anywhere else. When we do something, it is important to give the numbers out. Earlier they used to hide the contracts and everything. We disclose everything. The marketing game is over, pretty much. There are a few more tenders that will come out.

Over the last few weeks you’ve been hearing more about development, about infrastructure, about the world cup. See, when we didn’t have the money, we didn’t have anything to talk about. So how were we going to change those things? A campaign went out in the Times of India, saying how bad the infrastructure was, and asking what the BCCI was doing with all this money. You’ve got to understand, the money is just signed on a piece of paper now. The money hasn’t even come into our bank. The rest of the money is going to come over the next few years. Infrastructure doesn’t happen overnight. It needs thought. We need to bring the architects in. We need to have municipal corporation permission. We are getting all that into place. Once the marketing deals are done, they are done. We needed to project those numbers. It also helps me get more numbers in.

From our point of view, we do an honorary job. We don’t make anything of it. I spend more money on cricket than I do in anything else. I spend crores on cricket out of my own pocket because I love the game more than anything else. If I did not project these numbers out, tomorrow we leave and a new regime comes in, and these things are not known, then they can be subject to mismanagement. So we put out the figures in the public domain and harp about them a lot.

Will the board move forward until it has paid professionals who are held accountable?

I agree with you 100%. Right now we are accountable. That is why, when I decided to take on the job, I had to give it time, otherwise I wouldn’t do it justice. I give 14 hours a day to cricket. I’ve decided that for a year, a year and a half, my life is cricket. In the meantime we’re hiring people to take the game forward. Once the basic infrastructure is in place, thereafter the game will ride on its own. It won’t happen overnight. Change is on the one hand good, on the other hand painful, and on the third, it takes a lot to implement it. We need to change our constitution, put all that in place, and we’re doing all that. Until then, we need to be involved. If we leave it half-way, it’ll all return to where it was.

But do you agree that to move forward you need those paid professionals?

We have professionals under interview right now. They will be the implementers. So we will be like the board of directors. We will give them guidelines and they will go out and implement them on a day-to-day basis. And that will have to filter down to the state level and then the district level going forward. And that will happen.

Now to cricket. Do you see it eventually moving away from its nation-based structure to something like football, where the real interest lies in club rivalries?

Oh yes. It’s gonna happen. The intercity cricket league is going to happen. My next big project which I’m going to announce. I’m still not ready for it because the game has evolved since the last time I developed it. It will be a home-and away concept. We hope to launch that by the end of the year.

Market demands could also mean the end of Test cricket?

No. Test cricket is important for us. In the last year or two the revival of test cricket has begun with the Ashes, with the south African series. The problem was that people were not filling up the stadiums.

Why is the BCCI averse to Twenty20?

Why not 25-25? Why not 30-30. The issue right now is that the countries advocating it are only England and Australia. They have a drop in stadium levels so they are advocating it. We fill our stadiums. We have enough crowds coming in. We’re just getting into the game now. First they want to play a world cup of 20-20. They’re not even talking about going and promoting twenty-20 in countries first, play it for five-ten years, build the basis of 20-20.They’re saying lets go straight to the world cup!

But if the ICC says that, would you be interested in playing Twenty20?

They are saying that. We’re not interested in playing Twenty20. If the ICC mandates us to do it, and we’re the only people left, I think we’ll have no choice. But in my view, I think we must have a domestic calendar for it first. It’s a totally new game. It’s a batsman’s game…

And that’s why the Indian public will warm to it…

That may be so but we need to do it at the domestic level first! I’m not saying no. I’m saying we have to do it at the domestic level first.

Will playing Twenty20 hurt the board commercially?

I don’t think so. It could be a different team altogether. We have to understand it. It’s totally new. Where you might lose a little bit, you could also game a little bit somewhere else.

Do you think of failure?

Failure is at the back of my mind but I don’t think of it because I look at the positive side of things. I think you have to go out and doyour best. I know I come off strong and heavy-handed at times. But I believe that you should keep doing. You can talk as much as you want and say what you want, but it all comes down to just doing the job.

Sections of the English and Indian press call you the new Dalmiya. What do you make of it.

I get very offended. (Rest of the answer cut off when the recorder shut down. Hand-written notes take over.)



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