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Gleanings from the IPL

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IPL_Indian_Premier_LeagueThere have been more than nine. Some perished prematurely. Some were rechristened. Some were shunted out for spoiling the clime with their petty greed – players and owners both being culpable. This year, there were eight…not all green though. We had the whole rainbow and more. Different shades of blue, dashes of pink, and red and orange, tinges of yellow and green and violet. In the end, one prevailed. And T20 cricket benefited, more than anything else.

The Indian Premier League comes and goes...and as global warming entrenches itself more and more conspicuously to challenge the naysayers and skeptics...the temperatures in the summer months when T20 matches are played keeps inching up. Well, thank God for small mercies, these matches are played after sundown most of the time. (Brings one to wonder about the FIFA matches in Qatar some years down the line…)

Gleanings, if any?

There are several who tell me that Test cricket is right at the top if they have to choose among the three versions (or four, if you include three-day games). But, everyone watches T20 matches...just to chill out after a hard day at work; or for housewives, after a difficult day managing all the household chores. I am sure no one has to bunk office or school or college to watch these matches...so, if anything, IPL adds to the Indian economy...in a big way.

Talking of economies, it does add to ‘personal economies’ too...sometimes gaudily. The beneficiaries either come under tremendous psychological pressure as a result from the media and spectators (aficionados and connoisseurs alike) and succumb to it, or simply do not care and make hay while the Sun shines (literally during the hot summers of this decade!). We have team owners who unabashedly play truant and seem to become the bete noire of lending banks (or maybe teach greedy banks who lend out a lot of money seeking high returns a lesson?). We have some who expect miracles from coaches and players who are just human beings trying to do their best, and in the process, do what would be considered inappropriate, unladylike or ungentlemanly. All in the game, some would say. Perhaps. Maybe not. I am not a connoisseur.

Hats off to those owners (and officials) who have contributed to social causes, linking cricket up with philanthropy and sustainable development...that must continue to be the guiding light. And there were those who squandered their opportunities to possibly play for India again by thirsting after ill-gotten pelf ( a la some other big names from the 1990s, which are by now ‘household names’ for the wrong reasons in India) and chose the last resort available (readers can guess what I am referring to). Water scarcity was in the forefront this time; but lateral thinking can help one have the cake (maybe bake more as well) and eat it (them) too.

At the same time, there are the staid and sober workhorses who continue to use IPL as a platform to continue serving the game and contributing to the future of Indian cricket by spotting young talent and nurturing them. And then, this year, there was one man who confidently kept raising the bar, again and again. Records did not mean anything so much to him, though he established several over the last 2 months...as sweating it out for the team he captained. He is one who strongly believes in himself and also in the fact that people are entitled to their opinions – armchair idealists or couch potatoes who comment as none stops them from doing so. He goes on in the way he knows best breaking barriers, hurling aside hurdles and setting ever higher standards for himself and others.

The introduction of lady commentators was a great move. These commentators are cricket connoisseurs (or cricketers) and not starlets brought on to add glamour to the sport. Good for the women of the world, who may perhaps not really appreciate the female component of IPL being restricted to just pom-pom girls (cheerleaders).

We saw brothers on the same team (the Pandyas), brothers on opposing teams (the Pathans, Marshes and the Morkels). Inspiration continued to come from the likes of Brad Hogg, Pravin Tambe, Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan, who have successfully defied age on the field. It is good to see cricketers with good physiques these days, thanks to this version of the game. Yes, there are the paunchy ones no doubt (beer bellies perhaps), but by and large, you see fitness writ large on the constitutions of most of them. Working out at the gym was never so important when cricketers played only Test matches and ODIs. IPL and T20 in general have changed the way one looks at fitness. Dapper leggies, for instance, benefit a lot by developing their shoulder muscles – and being able to combine speed and tweak effectively (as Kumble did and redefined leg-spin-googly bowling).

And when these cricketers age and retire and take over as coaches, it is much easier to inspire youngsters with a well-toned physique in addition to a good reputation, than with a beer belly! Nothing against beer, guys, for after all, one of the owners also alluded to earlier in the article, has made his money by intoxicating millions...the quite obvious nexus between Bollywood and Cricket has been strengthened in many ways, by the IPL (though it got weakened when the team that won the opening version of the IPL, was made defunct).

The IPL intoxicates too...in more ways than one. And the plusses have overshadowed the minuses...

 

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G Venkatesh (born 1972) is a senior lecturer in Energy and Environment, at Karlstad University in S...

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