With the TN Premier League “we have achieved what we set out do. Discover cricketing talent” – says N Srinivasan, President of Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, his sense of satisfaction is obvious as he interacts with a group of journalists.
As the first TNPL builds up to the final match of a 28-game series, the State-level 20-over franchise-based league, is a clear winner, whether it is in terms of franchise owners’ interest, players commitment and quality of the game and fan following. The key here is the cricketing talent available in Tamil Nadu and “now there is a route to discover it”, he says.
Cricket interest apart, the financials are not immodest. Top eight bidders who were awarded a franchise, out of a total of 17 bidders, have forked out a total of ₹33.24 crore a year for 10 years to TNCA.
The title sponsor India Cements has paid ₹3.5 crore and including other associate sponsors the amount builds up to ₹6 crore, and the media rights to Star India brought in ₹7.2 crore, totalling about ₹46 crore to TNCA – which will further strengthen cricket infrastructure in the State.
The cricket Association has spent about ₹8.5 crore this year on capital infrastructure, he says. The franchises have significant sponsors, the prize money of about ₹3.5 crore with the winner taking ₹1 crore.
But the important part, he says, is what TNPL will do to cricket in terms of recognising and nurturing talent. These are numbers other state League of this kind had not been able to match.
The key, Srinivasan says, is “Tamil Nadu is a cricketing State. For decades it has been a test match centre and cricket had been a huge draw not just in the cities but in small towns. TNPL has taken now taken it to the villages across the State,”
Star has done a great job of promoting TNPL even in international events, he added.
“Whether a vendor’s son or a fisherman, as long as he has talent, the kid gets a shot at making it big in the game. That is what TNPL is all about,” assured Srinivasan.
Just look at the crowd pulling impact of TNPL, which is played in Chennai, and in Tirunelveli, as well as Natham in Dindigul in southern Tamil Nadu, he pointed out. In both towns, the stadia were packed with a crowd of 2,000-3,000 that shelled out ₹50 per head, was a family outing for all with floodlit matches, and most importantly a novel experience with good quality cricket. Matches in Chennai attracted 10,000-15,000 spectators, he said.
Franchises and District Associations are keen on setting up more such facilities. These include Theni, Villupuram, Karaikudi and Madurai. Next season, the game will be played in two more districts, he says.
TNPL will add a couple of more franchises in a year or two. There is a huge enthusiasm for franchises and the first eight includes new investors not previously associated with cricket, he said.
The first season has seen eight franchises fight for glory. The owners of these teams are — Thoothukudi Sports & Entertainment Pvt Ltd; Metronation Chennai Television Pvt Ltd; Lyca Productions Pvt Ltd; Kothari (Madras) Int Ltd; Ruby Builders & Promoters; VB Cricket Academy; Take Solutions Ltd; and Chettinad Apparels Pvt Ltd.
(This article was published on September 14, 2016 in The Hindu)