CHENNAI: The Covid-19 pandemic has plunged the world into an unprecedented crisis. Industries across the spectrum and cricket equipment manufacturers are no different. While most of them witnessed almost zero sales in the first couple of months into the lockdown, things have slowly started picking. But the manufacturers are still 70 to 80 per cent short of usual sales.
The BCCI’s announcement to shift IPL to the UAE might have brought back the excitement among cricketers and fans, but only the resumption of proper cricket across the country can help the manufacturers get back on track.
They are looking forward to the BCCI’s domestic calendar, even if it happens to be a truncated one. “In India, sales of cricket equipment, from the organised and unorganised sectors, stand somewhere around Rs 1,000 crore annually. It was almost zero in April and May and now it’s around 20-30 per cent of the usual sales, which is somewhere around Rs 24 crore,” Paras Anand, marketing and sales director of Sanspareils Greenlands (SG), told this daily. SG is the official ball supplier of BCCI.
The board ordered 72 pink balls from them when India played their first day-night Test against Bangladesh last year. Anand, though, said he cannot divulge details of the number of balls supplied to BCCI annually, but informed that they have not supplied balls since March. The official website of the board, bcci.tv, however, sheds some light on the demand and supply cycle. As per the website, the BCCI made payments to SG eight times since January 2019, with the highest amount being Rs 75.80 lakh in February this year and the lowest being Rs 34.57 lakh in March last year.
The last payment to the tune of Rs 35.36 lakh was made in June. Anand believes the figures can jump somewhere between 50-60 per cent if cricketing activities resume in the country. “IPL may act as a booster, but activities need to resume.” Sareen Sports (SS) Industries, which primarily manufacture bats and balls apart from other cricket equipment, has also witnessed a huge fall in sales. Jatin Sareen, managing director of SS, said team sports especially cricket has suffered the most.
“Since the lockdown was lifted, figures are between 10-15 per cent of normal sales. Shops were closed for months. Even now, lockdown is imposed on weekends in some states.” The company exports equipment to Australia, UK, USA, South Africa, Canada, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It also manufactures products for international companies. Sareen, however, informed that SS has stopped exporting goods for now. “IPL has created excitement but the future is uncertain,” he asserted.
Somi Kohli, the owner of BAS (Beat All Sports), echoed the same. “Sales have dropped by 70 per cent. It can only improve if schools reopen and cricketing activities resume.” Kohli, who sponsored MS Dhoni’s first kit, added that they started exporting goods to South Africa and Australia but with new cases Down Under, exports have gone down once again.