Under Jay Shah’s watch, Indian cricket has cemented its place as the sport’s biggest powerhouse

At the height of the Covid pandemic, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) posted revenue of Rs 4,739 crore for FY21, down only marginally from Rs 4,972 crore in the previous year, the government said in Parliament on August 8 in response to a question .

A year later, as normalcy returned, BCCI’s revenue rose to Rs 7,606 crore, cementing its position as the richest cricket administrator. It paid Rs 1,159 crore in tax, up from Rs 845 crore a year earlier.

And, it was not a post-pandemic surge in demand, as has been the case for many other goods and services.

The foundation for this fiscal performance was laid in October 2019. It was then that the BCCI saw a pivotal change, one that would herald the major evolution of the world’s richest cricket board as seen in finances now. It was then that former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly took over as president and Jay Shah, son of Home Minister Amit Shah, became secretary.

The duo set out to reinvent Indian cricket together until October 2022, when Ganguly stepped down. A right-handed batsman, Shah does not have the cricketing pedigree of Ganguly but has shown the ability to defend well or go on the attack when needed for Indian cricket.

During this period, the BCCI navigated the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic by delivering Indian Premier League (IPL) events in India and abroad. The board also secured a record Rs 48,390 crore IPL media rights deal while adding teams from Lucknow and Ahmedabad to one of the world’s biggest franchise competitions. The groundbreaking IPL media rights deal and the auction of the two new franchises have boosted the tournament’s valuation to a staggering $11 billion. The Women’s Premier League (WPL) was launched earlier this year and has become the second largest T20 cricket league in the world, second only to the IPL in size.

The media rights for WPL were acquired by Viacom18 for a whopping Rs 951 crore, while prominent business entities such as Adani Group, Reliance Industries, Diageo Group’s United Spirits, JSW GMR Cricket and Capri Global Holdings joined the acquisition of the five franchises on offer.

Ganguly praised Shah, 34, explaining why they clicked as a team when he was chairman.

“He’s very keen to get things going. It is a quality that I believe is very important in any job,” Ganguly told ET. “I was in a similar mood.”

On the non-financial side, Shah oversaw the completion of the 100,000-capacity Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, revived a stagnant National Cricket Academy (NCA) and streamlined the domestic cricket structure while improving facilities and infrastructure for players.

“The IPL, being one of the most popular and financially successful cricket leagues in the world, has played an important role in driving commercial growth,” said Shah, the youngest administrator in the world of cricket. He was just 31 when he was appointed BCCI secretary.

Shah, who holds a BTech degree from Ahmedabad’s Nirma University, was elected president of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) at the age of 32.

“He’s only 34. It’s a big responsibility at that age. The best thing about him is that he wants to do the right things,” Ganguly said
Shah chose not to follow the political path like his father, opting instead for the less public realm of stock markets and business. Cricket remained an abiding passion.

He trained under former Gujarat coach Jayendra Sehgal at Loyola Hall, but Shah found his calling in sports administration, starting on that track with the Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) in early 2009.

By May of the same year, he was a member of the executive board of the Central Board of Cricket, Ahmedabad, and in September 2013, he assumed the role of joint secretary at the GCA.

“While I had a keen interest in playing cricket, my true calling and passion was to contribute to the sport from an administrative perspective where I can have a wider impact on the game and its stakeholders,” Shah said. “This role allows me to work for the betterment of Indian cricket and contribute to the growth of the sport both at grassroots and international level.”

In the corridors of the BCCI, navigating the complexities of lobbies, multiple state associations, major broadcasters and revered cricketing legends can prove difficult. Yet Shah has managed these complex dynamics with finesse and acumen.

“What sets him apart from the rest is his ability to take tough decisions and take timely action when required, a trait that is critical in a dynamic and fast-paced environment like sports administration,” said BCCI president Roger Binny, who replaced Ganguly in 2022.

His political moorings made him adept at making deals. Not long ago, the BCCI found itself embroiled in a tense standoff with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB). Former PCB chairman Najam Sethi even said that Pakistan might boycott the ODI World Cup scheduled for October-November in India.

Shah ensured that the Pakistan team traveled to India for the prestigious ICC Cricket World Cup 2023.

“His problem-solving ability is a true testament to his commitment to the game and its stakeholders,” said IPL chairman Arun Dhumal, who works closely with Shah.

One of Shah’s major achievements is to boost women’s cricket with the WPL and pay parity for women cricketers.

“The promotion and development of women’s cricket remains a top priority for me. The success of the WPL has played a major role in making women’s cricket a mainstay for years to come,” said Shah.

Sports analysts say BCCI is more focused under Shah. He has clearly marked his holdings, according to them. He wants to ensure continued success in all forms of the game.

“Jay bhai’s efforts to bring pay equity to women cricketers, introduce the WPL, upgrade infrastructure and improve the domestic circuit, among other initiatives, revolutionized the sport and provided a blueprint for other sports bodies across the world. the country,” Binny said. .

What he would like now is some trophies – India have been without a major world title since their Champions Trophy triumph in 2013, although they have emerged as a dynamic force in bilateral encounters.

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