Uday Shankar who stepped down as chairman at Star & Disney India, and as President at Walt Disney APAC on Thursday – believes cricket’s global administration needs a fresh approach going forward.
“I think restructuring of cricket’s global calendar and policies is long overdue and it needs to be done at the earliest,” Shankar told TOI.
He is of the view that “the current global model of the game is fast becoming unsustainable and to not take that into account by cricket authorities would be short-sightedness”.
Elaborating on how the game’s finances are dwindling for lack of a more dynamic approach, Shankar says: “Today, a lot of cricket properties are loss making propositions. Much of the cricket outside of IPL and ICC World Cups do not have support.”
Stopping short of calling the present structure a flawed one, Shankar says he finds “no meaning” in many bilateral series that cricket hosts these days, adding, “they really make no sense”.
“Cricket needs clarity. It has three formats and all three are currently battling each other for greater relevance. In that, the game finds itself caught in a bizarre dichotomy that has come to exist and it needs to be resolved”.
That line of thought, he explains, comes from how fans are taking to the game now, visa -vis the past. “Fans want more of T20, followed by ODIs and very few want Test cricket. In that, they want iconic Test cricket – India vs Australia, England vs Australia, India vs England. Nobody wants just any random Test matches. But the cricket establishment still seems to be in denial and thinks cricket is still about Test matches because it was about Test matches 30 years ago,” says Shankar.
Shankar says it is the game’s administration that must align its goals with that of fans and cricket lovers because sponsors and advertisers in the game will only reflect the priorities of the fans.
“Those who have the responsibility to take care of cricket need to take note of it. The game has a lot of smart minds, but you can’t consider the rear-view mirror and drive. You’ve got to look ahead, see the signposts and see for yourself how you need to go forward,” he says, underlining how it’s important to not get nostalgic about the past and strategize for the future.