Melbourne, May 23 : Tom Moody, the coach of the Punjab Kings XI, has cautioned Cricket Australia not be in a rush in encouraging private ownership of domestic teams.
The former Test all-rounder, is of the view that this model may be successful in India, but may not meet with the same kind of success in Australia.
"There is a couple of major differences between Australia and India. One is obviously a billion people, and the other is the economy that underpins the billion people," Moody said.
"A franchise system (in India) has proven successful purely because it has the economy to drive that. Cricket doesn't have competition in India, where it is by far the No. 1 passion. In Australia, cricket is very much a first-love summer sport, but competes against many others so I think the answer is, it could work, but I don't think we will be seeing the same level of new revenue pushed into the game."
Cricket Australia is studying models from India to the US to South Africa, which adopted a franchised system five years ago, as it seeks to expand on the Twenty20 Big Bash for 2009-10, when it may comprise eight teams, including at least one from New Zealand.
It remains to be seen whether players will represent states, cities or brands, and whether big businesses or wealthy individuals - cricket-loving movie stars Russell Crowe or Hugh Jackman, perhaps - are willing to open their cheque books and splurge on a cricket team in an uncertain economic climate.
Cricket Victoria chief executive Tony Dodemaide believes they will. "I would be surprised if companies at the big end of town wouldn't be interested. Cricket has a strong brand and according to Sweeney (Research) is Australia's favourite sport," he said.
A priority will be to balance the not-for-profit boards' charter to plough money back into grass-roots cricket with the need to present a compelling commercial case.
"Investors are always looking for a return. There aren't too many Roman Abramoviches out there, who can lose millions of dollars a year on a sporting team," The Australian quoted Dodemaide, as saying.
In fact, one IPL owner has displayed considerably less patience than the legendary Chelsea boss. The mood of beer baron, airline magnate and formula one team owner Vijay Mallya soured when the Bangalore Royal Challengers started losing. Mallya sacked the chief executive, turned on captain Rahul Dravid and reportedly sent his executives to sit in on team meetings.
Moody has encountered no such interference from Zinta and her co-owners. And as one of five Australians at the helm of IPL franchises, he is sure to be interrogated by Cricket Australia bosses upon his return.