ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Madras: You scratch my back and I will scratch yours, is India’s most famous sport, especially in the upper crust of society. And the country’s richest sporting body, BCCI, and the country’s second largest IT company, Infosys, have just shown how it is played, in full public glare.
Monday’s Times of India had a story that BCCI was in talks with Infy to prepare, hold your breath, “an exhaustive injury database” following the flurry of injuries to its top players—Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, S. Sreesanth—who have all skipped the ongoing West Indies tour because of various aches, pains and niggles.
According to the report, former India captain, KSCA president and NCA chairman, Anil Kumble, was in touch with Infosys to develop a software for injury management of players.
“But the talks are informal and at a very preliminary stage,” said BCCI chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty. “We have been using the infrastructure of Infosys like their ground at Mysore on a regular basis.”
Reading the report, the first thought that crossed my mind was: who first scratched whose back first? And who is deriving more pleasure out of the experience?
Infosys or BCCI?
Think about it.
Indian cricket for all its dhoom-dhamaka is still a stiflingly small sport. The number of international players, and the number of domestic players seeking to gradaute to the international level, is small. And to tabulate their injuries, you need Infosys, when a coach in shorts with a spreadsheet can do the job?
And what about Infosys?
The $7 billion company refrains from getting into the product-making zone, doesn’t make big mergers or acquisitions that will take it to the next level, but is happy to be doing silly odd jobs that a 20-year-old with a 486 could be doing after class-hours?
Today’s Hindustan Times hits the nail on the head by calling the BCCI-Infosys what it is: a silly PR exercise. Reason: sports clubs around the world have long used software to spot talent, plot diet plans, record medical data, and track players from the junior to professional levels.
HT says Brentford FC, a lower-division English football club, asked a software developer called PlayersElite to come up with the required software to manage its players.
“It cost £5,000 (approximately Rs 3.5 lakh) to develop the software, and requires a further £400 (Rs 30,000) per month to maintain it,” says its head of youth recruitment, Shaun O’Connor.
But to see BCCI, Infosys and Anil Kumble in this tech tango—as if they are sending a man to the man—offers a sobering insight into both Indian sport and Indian business. Why haven’t we heard of Cisco or Microsoft or Sun Microsystems doing likewise with NBA or World Series or whatever?
Because it is not rocket science, Sherlock.
All BCCI needs to understand why its players are falling like flies is to look at its own timetable and an exhausting circus called the Indian Premier League (IPL). But why would BCCI or Anil Kumble cut off their own legs, when one runs the IPL and the other advises the Royal Challengers (RCB)?
OK, this is nitpicking.
Maybe Kumble as the new KSCA president wants to build sport-industry relationships, with the “future” in mind. Well then, BCCI doesn’t even have a website of its own. Maybe, they should also ask N.R. Narayana Murthy & Co to help them design a website while they are working on “an exhaustive injury database”.
It will be total paisa vasool.
Photograph: Anil Kumble with wife Chethana arrives for the wedding reception of Infosys chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy‘s son Rohan Murthy, who married Lakshmi Venu of the TVS family at the Leela Palace in Bangalore on Sunday, June 12 (Karnataka Photo News)
Also read: Why don’t we hear of IT excelling in sport?