Friday, March 26, 2010

By Rajadhyax

The DLF IPL has split the world of cricket pundits right through the middle. The lucrative and popular short-format tourney has attracted its own bunch of vitriolic critics. So on one hand you have crazy fans and commentators grabbing every bit and byte of IPL, while on the other hand you have men like Chesterfield and Manthrop who would throw a party if IPL came to an abrupt end.

But first let’s look at the positive impact of the DLF sponsored extravaganza. IPL creates a fresh and challenging platform for new and old cricketers to display their talent; the new ones doing so to merit a call for national duty and bigger assignments while the older ones doing it for prestige and that one last hurrah before they sign off into history. This helps a healthy exchange of ideas between the veterans and green horns. For instance, what Parthiv Patel can pick up from Matt Hayden or Abhishek Nair from Sachin Tendulkar is quite immeasurable.

IPL also helps cricketers, coaches, broadcasters, sponsors and commentators to make commercial gains. Not all cricketers had previously enjoyed financial security, except the regulars in their respective national teams. And it’s not just the ones associated with the game who will be earning this time. Donations are being made towards South African educational system as well.

Ultimately, the big advantage is also going to cricket itself as a sport. Multitudes are getting glued to TV sets and thousands are gathering at the grounds to enjoy uninhibited cricket at its best where a Yusuf Pathan lifts a ball over long-on for a 109 meters six or a previously unknown Jakati casts a spell with vicious left-arm spin.

Then there are miscellaneous gains as well. IPL has become a personified member of millions of families with games being analysed over lunch and dinner tables. IPL is encouraging clones at a state level. The first to jump on the band wagon is the state of Maharashtra where their cricket-association has started the Maharashtra Premier League (MPL) with Ranji level cricketers fighting on an IPL replicated model in Pune. 8 teams are competing tooth and claw for the first edition of MPL even as you read this article. Cricketers from the state who were knocking the doors of the state team and those with Ranji records are in it together. Who knows, IPL technical advisors may catch the action and more players from the state could figure in Season Three of IPL. Already the city of Pune is enjoying its own league, lush green outfields, smart-coloured outfits, big hitting all rounders, music, masti and the works. This augurs well for state level players everywhere since the outright success of MPL will now be derived by other states.

But everything said and done, there are IPL detractors as well. In a recent article penned by Neil Manthrop from Cape Town, he argued venomously why IPL is bad omen for SA. He agreed that “donations during each game to children’s education are welcome and it seems churlish to question the integrity of the gesture.” But in the same breath he also says, “Just for curiosity’s sake, what is $ 900000 – as a percentage – out of a projected IPL turnover of $ 2.4 billion?” Oh, come on Neil, are you arguing a billionaire’s charity is no charity unless he contributes half of his wealth! Its money going into children’s education, mate. Take it!

Others like Kaveree Bamzai rue that television rating points of Season 1 were 7-8 while for Season 2 they are languishing at 4-5. Chesterfield, meanwhile, wants us to believe that IPL is nothing more than a money making exercise and that it is bad advertisement for cricket. In his book, Lalit Modi is a modern day Genghis Khan, a marauder dressed as an administrator. From the scantily clad cheer-girls to Kochhar’s lack lustre Extra Innings show and from lesser crowds to shortage of 200-plus scores, everything of this season of IPL has been criticised.

On the flip side, it is worth appreciating that after the myopic view of its critics, unfortunate timing of India’s national elections and the logistical challenge of managing an event of this scale, Modi and his men have successfully shifted base in a short duration and put up a magnificent show. Cricketers, cricket writers (like yours truly), fans and every single person associated with IPL management is going around with a big, satiated grin. Don’t bite your lips at that, guys, doff your hats!

To put IPL in a cliché then, you like it or hate it, you cannot afford to ignore it.
Bookmark and Share

Blog Archive