Bitter Modi longs for a comeback

On an average it’s 40 tweets per game, and that’s one per every over bowled during the IPL. Lalit Modi still keeps himself busy during matchdays, so what if his mornings and afternoons in London are spent furiously working his fingers over the smartphone to share his thoughts on social media.

One can take Lalit Modi away from IPL, like what the BCCI tried and is still working vigourously trying in the disciplinary committee proceedings, but you cannot take IPL away from Lalit Modi.

It’s been three years since the ex-commissioner left Indian shores, for threat to his life and fears over prejudiced judgment against the charges levied against him. Modi is still fighting, on different legal platforms, and watching every delivery even though that big luxurious couch on the sidelines is being occupied by someone else.

By bringing in more money, sponsors and by reviving the TRPs, current incumbent Rajeev Shukla seems to have quietly highjacked the show but Modi differs.

“IPL will always be my baby. I added Rs 47,600 crore contracts to BCCI coffers…. Rajeev etc can add a few hundred crore on a legacy I built and they should do that. The development should go on, but you can’t take away the work in building the foundation,” he said in an exclusive interview to MAIL TODAY. Modi, meanwhile, is terribly upset with the BCCI. “There are no two ways about shifting matches out of Chennai,” after the ban on Sri Lankan players, and feels that the board is thus inclined towards one particular franchise and N. Srinivasan, by virtue of his multiple hats, has been able to get his way.

Modi says he was aware that conflict of interest will haunt Indian cricket but was surprised at different parameters for him and the current BCCI president.

“There was a great song and dance when it was suggested I had personal interest in teams but it didn’t seem to matter when it came to Chennai, India Cements and Srinivasan. Why was an exception made? Why was it alleged that I was in breach by being involved in ownership? At the time, the allegation created a diversion but it’s been shown that I didn’t and don’t have an interest in any franchise.

“In Chennai’s case, there is obviously no doubt, but apparently it doesn’t matter,” Modi said.

One of his biggest success stories was shifting the IPL to South Africa after the government refused to provide security for the tournament. With general elections due next year, Modi doubts the present IPL governing council can take on the government, if need be.

“I’m proud that we managed it.

I’ll be interested to see how it’s handled this time round. Doubt they would have the guts to take on the government,” he said.

Modi fears that the business module he created has been compromised and franchisees are under pressure to cut corners because they aren’t in profits yet.

“The IPL should be a profitable model for everybody. I don’t just mean financially, but spiritually and emotionally too. Everyone should be part of the whole mix but I don’t see the pace of change and innovation being kept up to ensure the initial model keeps pace with necessity. Franchises have been compromised by the decision making of the last few years,” he said citing the example of the now disbanded Kochi franchise.

“Kochi’s demise was an accident waiting to happen. The BCCI forced us to lower the threshold for initial bids for the franchise. They heightened the risk factor by lowering the standards and that’s been happening in other areas too,” he said.

Modi quashed rumours of his involvement with other T20 leagues but is surprised at the BCCI’s attitude of not allowing its players for other leagues, chiefly because of fear of losing its own market. “ I am very much a free market enthusiast and work on the basis that if someone has something better than you, then you’d better change yours! I conceived the IPL to be the world leader in T20 cricket and the philosophy was always to make sure it stayed ahead of the game. Whether it’s continued to do that in the last four years is for others to decide but if you try and ‘ control’ a situation rather than ‘ manage’ it, I think you’re heading for a fall,” said Modi.

Modi doesn’t know when his fight against the set- up would end, but he doesn’t rule out a comeback like Jagmohan Dalmiya.

“Who knows what will happen in the future? But there is much that has to change before that can even be thought about! I am proud of what I achieved. People tell me that the IPL isn’t the same anymore but from where I am, I cannot do anything to help,” he said with a tinge of regret.

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