An end of an Era ?

Coach Anil Kumble resigns as the coach of Indian Cricket Team just a day before India starts its West Indies tour. In his letter addressed to BCCI, he mentions about his relationship with the Indian Captain Virat Kohli.
His full resignation letter –

” I am honoured by the confidence reposed in me by the CAC, in asking me to continue as Head Coach. The credit for the achievements of the last one year goes to the Captain, the entire team, coaching and support staff.”

“Post this intimation, I was informed for the first time yesterday by the BCCI that the Captain had reservations with my ‘style’ and about my continuing as the Head Coach. I was surprised since I had always respected the the role boundaries between Captain and Coach. Though the BCCI attempted to resolve the misunderstandings between the Captain and me, it was apparent that the partnership was untenable, and I therefore believe it is best for me to move on.”

“Professionalism, discipline, commitment, honesty, complementary skills and diverse views are the key traits I bring to the table. These need to be valued for the partnership to be effective. I see the Coach’s role akin to ‘holding a mirror’ to drive self-improvement in the team’s interest.”

“In light of these ‘reservations’, I believe it is best I hand over this responsibility to whomever the CAC and BCCI deem fit.”

“Let me reiterate that it has been an absolute privilege to have served as Head Coach for the last one year. I thank the CAC, BCCI, CoA and all concerned. I also wish to thank the innumerable followers of Indian cricket for their continued support. I will remain a well-wisher of the great cricketing tradition of my country forever.”

Thank you Sir for your service to the nation.

How Star Sports is Revamping Sporting Culture In the country

2nd April, 2012. As India was celebrating its one year anniversary of 2011 Cricket world Cup win, Star India was planning for future. For Rupert Murdoch’s Star, it was the day of celebration and more importantly, revolution. On that day, Star bought the all sorts of media broadcast rights of domestic and International matches from BCCI in India. After that, Star went on to buy rights and contracts with various associations and competent authorities in its pursuit to become the India’s one stop destination for Sports viewership.

After several Mergers and revamping, Star has seemed to strike the right chord with the Indian Audience and particularly when it comes to Sports. With 11 full time channels catering to varied sporting needs, Star India has seemed to include every sport in its offing. Before analyzing the valiant efforts of Star in just 6 years time, let us dive into little bit of fact knowing about Star India.

Star India Private Limited, formerly STAR TV India is an Indian media and entertainment company, owned by 21st Century Fox. It is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. STAR India’s portfolio includes 58 channels in eight languages. As per reports, the network reaches around 650 million viewers in India per month. STAR had been for some time, India’s entertainment leader until it moved aggressively into the sports market following 21st Century Fox’s full acquisition of its pan-Asian sports joint venture, ESPN STAR Sports (ESS), in 2012.

One challenge to lofty ambition of becoming the market pioneer was the inherent programming limitations of India’s nearly singular focus on cricket.  So in addition to winning broadcast rights for cricket (breaking the nation’s all-time viewership record with last year’s world Cup), STAR set out to transform India into a multi-sport market by investing in  hockey, badminton, soccer and kabaddi. Star Sports encourages India to “Imagine a world where sports come first”. As the leading sports channel in India, Star absorbed six different sports properties under one brand: Star Sports, and with one purpose: – Believe.Dhoni-star-sports

STAR India has acquired several rights to continue its domination. Few of them are:

  • Cricketing Broadcasting rights fromBCCI for Domestic and International fixtures in India till 2018, from International Cricket Council (ICC) till 2023, from England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) till 2017 and from Cricket Australia (CA) matches till 2017.
  • Federation International De Hockey (FIH) till 2022.
  • Wimbledontill 2022
  • Bundesligatill 2020.
  • In February 2015, STAR India entered into an agreement to acquire the broadcast business of MAA Television Network Limited, an entity in India that broadcasts and operates Telugu language entertainment channels.
  • In December 2015, STAR India announced it has successfully completed the integration of the broadcast business ofMAA TV in a deal.
  • In addition, STAR India has acquired digital rights forIndian Premier League through 2017. It was one of their greatest strategic move.

Previously, Star India had Star Sports, ESPN, and Star Cricket in the Sports offing. But with the increased demand-supply spectrum, it launched STAR Sports (1 2 3 4 and HD 1 2) few years ago in order to remake the televised sports landscape in India. Moreover, from remaking the television industry, in January 2015, STAR India, launched Hotstar, a new mobile and online entertainment destination for television shows, movies and sports content. Since then, Star has been using Hotstar brilliantly as an online broadcasting medium.

Star knew buying rights weren’t enough if it is not circulated and promoted thoroughly and wisely. Star knew that in a Cricket dominating nation, the task won’t be easy. So it introduced several campaigns ensuing the sports. Through its GAME ON INDIA campaign, it set out to revive the most basic sports of India: Kabaddi. And boy, they did it miraculously well. How many of us remember any of the previously held Kabaddi World cups? The inevitable answer will be, only a handful. But last year, every random Indian knew about kabaddi World Cup and if not at least of its occurrence. The difference was quite evident: Star.images

In just 40 minutes in the midst of the 2014 monsoon, India’s sporting history experienced a revolution. In a country traditionally obsessed with cricket, it transformed Kabaddi – a sport that was dismissed as a rural pastime, and reintroduced it to the world in a high-octane TV sporting event. And true indeed. “Jeeta Dil India ka, Abb Jeetini hai duniya” (Won Indian hearts, now have to win the world), the tagline of the Indian Kabaddi Team’s campaign in the World Cups became the buzz word during the event. The World Cup gained popularity, both in stands and on television and became the most viewed Kabaddi World cup in the history.

Star went ahead as from being just a broadcaster to being a creator. “I don’t see us as a broadcasting company anymore. We are creators of content. We should be present wherever our customer is” Uday Shankar, Chairman and CEO, Star India. In September 2014, STAR India acquired a 35% minority stake in Football Sports Development Limited, a joint venture with IMG-Reliance to launch the Indian Super League, a professional soccer league. In March 2015, STAR India, in association with its affiliate, acquired a 74% majority stake in Mashal Sports Private Limited in March 2015, for the operation of the Pro Kabaddi League. Just as right as its CEO cited, Star today has become more than a broadcaster.

 “Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League is aimed at spawning a sense of ownership among Indian sports viewers for a game that has origins in their own soil”. Sanjay Gupta, MD, Star India

There has been a long fought battle in the country between Cricket and other sports combined. But Star India is looking to negate that. Whether it is Rio Olympics or various badminton tournaments or be it Hockey matches, Star Sports is making sure that every Indian sporting fan is attached to their sporting fraternity. And to do this, it has wonderfully used the social media channels and traditional marketing means. From India’s participation in World Hockey League (#Desh ke liye) to Kabaddi’s Pro Kabaddi League (#Asli Panga) or be it Olympics (#IssebadaKuchNahi), star has been successful in this attempt.hockey_india_deshkeliye_you

Star knows the impact and reach, cricket as a sports have on the country like nation and they have encashed it totally. Dharamshala ODI against New Zealand has been itched in memory and has left an indelible impression. Star’s long running campaign on women empowerment, ‘NAYI SOCH’ campaign impressed everyone and gathered attention of International Media.  By giving players (Indian Players) kit with their mother’s name written on the back, STAR INDIA once again proved its mettle in unifying sports and that too in a perfect way: by striking the emotional aspect of the country.  Recently concluded India Pakistan match in the finals of the Champions trophy registered the most watched Cricketing event in the history of the game and that is a perfect result of proper marketing. (#bleedblue).star-plus-nayi-soch-800

There is no countering the fact that STAR INDIA has started a credible initiative to commercialize and more than that, pay the deserving attention to each and every sport. A part of recent successes of various leagues in India can be attributed to various activities undertaken by Star. ‘#Mauka Campaign’, ‘#Chasing Gold’, ‘#Ready to Raid’, #This time for India etc. are some of the tagline that have become the buzz lines and it goes without saying that if other sports have to developed in the country, various other sporting channels have take up the charge, realizing their responsibility and use their position to inculcate and improve the sporting culture in the country. It may not be a financial success, but will develop the necessary sporting environment.

Pic credits: Startv.in

In the fight for extra money, Who’s losing?

“From our point of view I want to play for Australia and so do the other boys,” Warner said. “But if there’s nothing that’s put in place for what we’re trying to achieve here, from both point of views, we’re not going to tour Bangladesh, there might not be an Ashes if we don’t have an MoU.” says the Australian Vice-captain David Warner.  Warner has been the most outspoken critic of the board in recent weeks after the CA chief executive James Sutherland threatened they would be left unemployed if the ACA did not agree to CA’s term.

From what we have been hearing and know, it is just two weeks to go for the present MOU between the CA (Cricket Australia) and ACA (Australian Cricketers’ Association-an organisation that represents the professional first-class cricketers of Australia, both past and present). As the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Cricket Australia (CA) and Australia’s Cricketers Association (ACA) ends in less than a fortnight, David Warner has underlined the willingness of the nation’s top players to go without employment in order to achieve the retention of the fixed revenue percentage model which is at the heart of the pay dispute.GettyImages-692610574

“We’re prepared as players to give a little bit more in that revenue share [percentage],” he said of the ACA’s proposal to reduce the players share from around 26% to 22.5% with more money to go to grassroots levels. “They can lock us out from all the training facilities,” Warner told Channel 9. But all players have in fact been told they will maintain full access to all facilities after June 30, even if negotiations are continuing.

The Australian Cricketers Association has landed another heavy blow by making a play to take back players’ image rights and severely restrict CA’s advertising capabilities. The Cricketers’ Brand will launch on July 1, the day after the memorandum of understanding between the two parties ends, and will mean all media, advertising and promotional deals will be controlled by the ACA, and not CA. steve-okeefe-test_806x605_51488007385

Ensuing this, Australian A team flies to South Africa for the series starting from July 7 and soon after that the Australian team has to battle out Bangladesh in their own home ground. In meetings last week both CA and the players union pledged to continue discussions towards a new MOU “without prejudice”. The new cut-off date proposed is 3rd July and that is even not that far. The matter has to be resolved soon otherwise it is not the Association or the players’ loss, but the overall Cricketing fraternity’s loss.

The war for VAR: Decoding the newest referee

The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. England vs Germany. Lampard’s long-range effort hit the bar, bounced off the ground once, before Neur gathered it safely in his hands. Except it wasn’t safe. What the officials had failed to notice, and which the video replays clearly sho

article-1289986-0A3A9AED000005DC-159_634x420wed, was that the ball had crossed the goal line before bouncing back into play. Lampard was denied a screamer and England a goal. Had it not been for the fact that Germany won a definitive 4-1 victory, there could have been a lot more uproar over the already quite controversial incident.

We have come a long way since then. With the implementation of the goal line technology, there can no longer be any mistakes with such a crucial decision in the game. Though some leagues, like the La Liga, have still not implemented this, the decision was due to financial reasons rather than any shortcomings of such a system. In fact, there are no shortcomings. However, that is more than can be said of the VAR. 14907685825830

The Visual Assistant Referee, is a system where an official takes the help of video replay to help with controversial decisions. Now, the most important difference with this system is that, unlike GLT, there are a lot of grey areas with the VAR decisions. Recently coming into news for being used in England’s 3-2 win over France, it was instrumental in Varane being sent off and England winning the penalty. The VAR again reared its ugly head for France when they were denied a goal and their opponents, Spain, allowed one, leaving them to lose the game 2-0.

Now in spite of a lot of criticism, mostly about taking the spontaneity out of the game and damaging its flow, it must be said t

hat all the decisions taken were correct. Varane’s sending off might have been a bit dicey, but then again, when is a red card not? And with gamesmanship gaining popularity among some players, now might be the time for such a system to weed out such backhanded tactics. Already implemented in the A-league in

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Australia, it has had its share of both wins and fails. However, though it is not perfect, it may be crucial in shifting the discussion from bad refereeing decisions, as has become the norm in recent times, to actual football. But like with any change, it is being met with harsh skepticism and fierce resistance. It remains to be seen whether this experiment will stand the test of time.

What do you think about VAR and its impact. Do let us know in the comments. 

Pic courtesy: Goal.com , Getty Images, Fox world

The Transfer Conundrum: Part 1

Who would have thought a few years back that a team will spend 200 million in the first month itself? But then Again who would have guessed Paul Pogba could go for 100 million, that he did last year.

The transfer market has boomed for the premier league clubs over the past 2 years and a lot of it has been because of the amount of money the premier league has generated and the clubs that have generated through TV rights and prize money.

After the whooping transfer season that was last year, everyone in the world was looking forward to this transfer season. And well it is off to a flourishing start.

The forerunner of the lot has been Pep from Manchester City. Already on the verge of spending 180 million for 4 players; EdersonMoraes for 40 mn; Benjamin Mendy for 39.8 million; Bernardo Silva for 43 million; and an almost confirmed 60mn signing of Alexis Sanchez at the doorstep, city has broken the market already with high profile signings and extravagant spending.

United on the other hand hasn’t been that busy yet, but with 2 high profile signings on the corner of Alvaro Morata, Victor Lindelof on the move to the English club. Meanwhile, West Brom have lined up Everton midfielder James McCarthy as a replacement for ex-captain Darren Fletcher. 634T712oRfiAtwmVYWbI_9f1SktL1RKC7RSgKYXTl_skysports-victor-lindelof-sweden-football_3975512

In other news, Chelsea have offered €50m for Juventus full-back Alex Sandro, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. However, the report suggests the Serie A champions rejected the offer and have said they have no intention to sell the Brazilian

Arsenal and Arsene proved to be wise yet again as they bag Sead Kolasinac the Bosnian left back from Schalke for a free transfer, enhancing the left wing back position in their 3-4-3 formation. Also saving the funds to make a supposed 100 mn bid for Kylian Mbappe. Monaco already has rejected a 83mn deal that arsenal had offered, but now they are planning to break their club record to prepare the highest ever bid.

Among other news, Chelsea has confirmed the signing of TiemoueBakayoko for 35 million, showing the doors to the not favored Diego Costa.

If rumors are to be believed, RB Leipzig play-maker Emil Forsberg has gathered news suggesting he will move to AC Milan by revealing playing in the Champions League isn’t a necessity for him. The former Liverpool transfer target is the latest name to be linked with Milan, who are undergoing a transformation this summer

Everton v Espanyol: Pre-Season Friendly

Barcelona has been back to market to get a stable right back with Arsenal’s Bellerin being the first choice. Also they have been pushing hard for the almost impossible Verratti bid. Barcelona midfield is in shambles and needs quick and quality restructuring.

Pic Credits: Goal.com

Men against Boys!!

After their 2-0 loss at home, Leonardo Jardim, Monaco’s manger, vowed to play his best team at Juventus Stadium and penetrate their unbreachable defense. And he delivered on his promise. Mbappe scored on the 69th minute, and Juventus conceded for the first time from open play in this Champions League season. However, it was far too late for comebacks. Juventus had already scored two goals in the first half, and by then the result was a foregone conclusion. Or so it seemed. Monaco fought for pride, and after that goal, even Allegri was forced to wipe the smile off his face, such was the ferocity of their attacks. And for a few moments, it looked as if Monaco might achieve the impossible. However, Juventus’ veteran defence stood firm, and the tie finshed 4-1 on aggregate.

Juventus started the game with a ceaseless assault on the Monaco goal. Subasic was called into action, and he performed brilliantly. However, the deadlock was finally broken in the 33rd minute. Dani Alves floated a cross into the box, and Mandzukic’s header was initially saved by Subasic. However, the rebound fell onto the striker’s feet, and this time, he made no mistake. There was another Dani Alves lobbed ball turned in by Higuan, but it was ruled offside. The second goal came just before half time, with Subasic’s attempted clearance from a corner finding Dani Alves, who swerved a sumptuous first-time volley into the Monaco net. Monaco did threaten a number of times, especially after their second half goal, but they did not have anything to show for it except the sole breakthrough.

Juventus-vs-Monaco

Dani Alves, once again, was the star of the show. After providing two assists in the first leg, he chipped in with another in the second leg and also turned scorer with a brilliant goal. Chiellini also made a brilliant intervention to deny Falcao a sure goal. Both well over 30, age seems like just a number for the Juventus defence.

Juventus have booked a place in the Champions League Final at Cardiff, and will face either Atletico Madrid or Real Madrid, depending on the result of the 2nd leg of the second semi-final match. Real Madrid won 3-0 in the first leg, leaving Atletico with an uphill task. The match will take place on Thursday, 12:15 AM IST.

Lost in the Middle overs!!

People think T20 is too small to actually divide it into middle overs, starting overs and end overs like we mentally do for an ODI match. Today was the perfect example why people should. KKR has been known to dominate the middle overs, be it batting or bowling. But today KKR failed, thanks to the control that KXIP showed in their bowling performance.

Winning and the toss and choosing to bowl first was the expected decision from Gambhir. KKR had an awesome start to the match with the bowlers striking early and their batting was shambles when their 3 batsmen were out for just 56 runs on the board that too not with that great a run rate. KXIP captain Glenn Maxwell did well to take some time to settle in and make sure he sees the ball well enough when he started taking the charge in the 12th over. Till then the run rate was around 6 an over. But Maxi shot up the run rate in quite a few overs to near about 8 an over. But due to some tremendous bowling by the KKR bowlers in the end, specially Kuldeep, the young man, who single-handedly took both the set batsmen in the death overs, they were able to restrict them to just 167 on the board. Woakes and Narine both were on target as they looked to chase down a sure win to secure their place in the top 4.

Coming to chase, KKR yet again had a flourishing start. With Narine scoring a quickfire 18(10) and Lynn looking dangerous as always; KKR was surely on course at 6 overs 61/1. But then came the surprise. After 2-3 good overs for the Punjab team, Maxwell introduced Tewatia into the attack. And in his second over he took the unsetteled Gambhir and in form Uthappa in a span of 3 deliveries. And now all of a sudden KKR found themselves cornered. In the first 6 overs the KKR who scored 60 odd runs for a loss of 1 wicket, went down to scoring 25 runs in the next 6 overs loosing 2 crucial wickets. Lynn did his best to score 84 and dragged the match till the end but his lack of support at the other end lead to his dismissal and the loss for KKR.

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Losing this game KKR is on the verge of losing their position of top 2 in the playoffs and thus, will be biting their heads off; because they had the match in their hands when they let it slip away.

KXIP now has a decent winning form and they need to keep winning all their matches till the end to have a chance of getting into the playoffs.

Picture credit: iplt20.com