This is the seventh season of Indian Premier League (IPL) and this time it is played in 2 halves. First half is being played in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and second half in India. This is the second time IPL has traveled outside India. IPL as a culture is growing but I feel this is not cricket anymore.
It was my college final year when Indian Premier League started in 2008. Cramped into a small room, we saw Brendon McCullum from Kolkata Knight Riders hammering Royal Challengers Bangalore. It was a crazy start. Who can ignore the cheerleaders! It was the time when fields burnt due to force of fours and skies rained sixes. It was the perfect mix of sports, glamour, sex, moolah and controversy. Suddenly people observed empty stands of Test matches, One Day International seemed sluggish and dull and no one could ignore this that this was the best thing to occur to Indian cricket.
But we don’t remember, IPL was not for all this, it was for revenge and kill off, Indian Cricket League (ICL) which started in 2007. It was evident what ICL had, a sports mantra in new format and support from Kapil Dev and Kiran More. Somehow Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) did not like it and did not support it either. BCCI brought in Lalit Modi who added the glamour and moolah. Everyone loves money so wanted to play in IPL too, but whoever supported ICL was banned (some were later reverted but were banned to start with). Result: ICL died in 2009.
IPL-II was played in South Africa in 2009 because of general elections in India. I felt disgusted that because general elections, which will last 30 days or so, BCCI-IPL was taken out of India. Elections is something that’ll shape the future of India but this showed utter disrespect to India showing money is far more important. Somewhere in the corner Cricket was sobbing. With IPL in South Africa, both BCCI and IPL were nothing but “as Indian in Non-Resident Indian”.
5 years later, IPL-VII is again out of India and it is the same reason: General Elections. Though it has been quoted that due to security reasons it was shifted but was it necessary? I’m sure no one would’ve complained if it started 15 days late and to counter it there will be arguments that IPL is within International Cricket Council (ICC) timelines and shifting it will cause troubles in ICC schedule. Really! IPL is so important?
IPL is in itself marred by controversies. Started with 8 teams, increased to 11 (better still 10, owners of one team changed and so did the team name) and again this year is back to 8. International rivalry and splits among team being evident. Spot-fixing, betting and favourism are just another page in IPL story.
There has been overdose of cricket. In 365 days of the year, India is playing Cricket for a good 3-quarters of time. Its worthwhile noting that Indian Cricket Team claims that too much cricket is the issue for poor performance but is willing to play IPL without break. However poor the performance be in International games but surprisingly it doesn’t seem so in case of IPL (except for some). It can also been seen that quite sensational performers in IPL fail to leave a mark in international games just after IPL. It really doesn’t seem that sports is binding them but something else. In a normal game (read Test, First Class, ODI and T20), drinks break is at a defined time. All strategies and discussions are held in the stipulated time between bowls and overs. IPL has something unique – “Strategic timeout” – a good 2.5 minute to discuss and plan out next course of action. What do they plan here? It is another 2.5 minute slot for advertisers. I don’t see how you can not have strategies between bowl and overs (or when batsman as for a thirst quencher).
For me IPL started with a craze and eventually becoming another way of wasting time and money because for me cricket is missing in all the action and drama of this money-making behemoth.