In the previous article
I threw some light on the better sides or aspects the IPL presents itself with. The focus of this article though lies on the flak the IPL gets every-time it starts to unfold. It may be few structural negatives or few aftermaths that made IPL negative in the eyes of few. And few feel that something few dodgy behind the scenes activities are tarnishes the brand IPL and toying with cricket fans’ sentiments. There exists a school of thought that strongly believes that IPL in some way or the other has been bringing bad name to the once holy game of cricket. And this thought contradicts with those who think IPL is the holy cow living. There are no doubts, atleast not in my mind stating that IPL needs to do some work if it has to emerge positive in those prying eyes. But linking every problem in the world with IPL will be a tad too confusing. Yes, there exist some problems that need to be addressed. And here are they.
Playing some other games
So IPL has come to an end… not entirely but merely the season-5 of it. Infact, a lot of time has gone by. Even the meeting of the IPL governing council is over and so is the inquiry of those who were part of that famous tape. The season was full of good cricket, many last over finishes, some nail-biting moments and eventually a new IPL Champion from the city of Kolkata. Amidst all that, IPL-5 rocked the front pages of the newspapers. Some team owners thought they were bigger than the game. And buying a team has given them a justified right to invade the ground and raise question about the credibility of the administrators and match officials. While few thought money had granted them a chance where a human being’s modesty can be taken for a ride. And if that was not enough, IPL did witness a sting operation where some players thought earning money was the sole objective irrespective of means used to earn it. Black money, under the table payment and payments in kinds etc. are the modes, to name a few. For many, IPL has stooped and stooped so much that it has become a ground where the bookies revel and the ever so innocent crickets are perishing morally. The voices in many heads are getting louder and people can hear it too.
The IPL since its inception has been a property hotly debated. Some say its bête noire of Kapil Dev led Indian Cricket League. Some claim that IPL has been inculcating the culture where slam bang cricket, faster ones and flight-less deliveries are considered to be the roadway to attain the coveted national cap. For few, it reminds them of a most fashionably and dramatically designed structure of destruction of the World Cricket; a la the Hell in the Cell of World Wrestling Entertainment. Entertaining, it surely is. Infact, few call it a circus.(Even the IPL makers, remember the pre-IPL5 commercial). Hence, like a circus it arrives when kids have holidays, like the circus it travels around the country and when the vacations are coming to an end, even the circus packs its bags to return next year. Hence, many around us strongly believe that IPL is an entertainment that will be short lived. It is no surprise then that there have been apprehensions from various cricket boards across the cricketing globe regarding IPL. The English Cricket Board’s (ECB’s) hesitancy to identify itself with the IPL is well documented. Hence, it is no surprise that there have not been too many players from England who have associated themselves with this cricket bonanza from India.
Nation v/s Franchisee
The experts across the globe believe that IPL has put a cricketer in a situation where he has to choose between the club cricket (IPL franchisee) and country cricket. And it is not the problem
that is limited with Indian cricket. There have been instances where the players thought it will be better off to play IPL T-20s and earn the whopping amount of money that the owners are willing to shell out. Sunil Narine was outstanding at IPL-5 and by all means is a bowler to watch out for in the future. But it shall also be remembered that he chose IPL over an almost guaranteed test birth in his West Indies team. On a larger extent, when ICC is hell bent not to provide IPL with a special window for IPL, are we pushing players to evade from national duties? Add to it, a scenario where players will choose to be the free-lancers (launchers). Few might say that it is the players who will have to choose what they want and administrators of IPL have nothing to do with what players decide to choose. There have also been the torchbearers that state that playing for country shall be the top priority and greatest honour in any cricketer’s life. However, with IPL that helps players earn magnitudes of money, there a number of cases where IPL was a top priority for players over the national duties. Hence the country v/s franchisee debate seems quintessential.
The rest unrest scenario
Another concern and this is quite a serious one. Players have been found either hiding their and playing it along during the IPL season or planning a recovery process in such a way that they could easily accommodate a patch of IPL on their cricketing CVs. The stories are well known when players went ahead or postpone the surgeries/operations or preponed rest just that they would not miss out on IPL. One has to remember that all this has come at the cost of a national duty. Either these players have further aggravated the injuries or put their national team in an embarrassing situation. Remember how an unfit Sehwag cost India at the T-20 World Championship in England. Yet, if one can peep into the mind of some of the players, they are very much likely to hear this- “Injury- naah, come on how I can get injured when IPL is on?”
If you have a chance to work in one of the FMCGs, Cannibalism is the term you are likely to have come across. It is the situation where a different product in the same category owned by the same parent company marches ahead of the profits of the existing product. In case of cricket, the T-20 is one of it’s products along with 50 overs internationals and Test matches. IPL, if we follow the same rule from above, remains to be an extension of T-20 cricket in general and cricket in particular. And going by the money it pockets, IPL is outperforming the Tests or for that matter even the 50 overs International cricket. Does it help players and the game?-Yes, as players are earning money and game is earning some extra visibility. But a negation and a huge one, if it is putting players through a window of extra cricket that is physically as well as emotionally taking a serious toll.
Where does a common cricket fan stand in all this?
There exists an absolute love for few (media, common cricket fans and few saviours of culture) to blame IPL for everything under the Sun and criticise the ones who are been part of IPL administration. But one has to understand that a property in itself can’t be good or bad all the times. It is about the people who decide what to make of this property. It’s the men and women who are directly or indirectly associated with it, decide how good or bad the property will be. But ah, hang on a second, are we forgetting the role the fans can or must be playing in this? We at one point say the test cricket is dying and T-20 is killing it. So, why are not we making sure that we attend those wonderful test matches? Why don’t we jam packed the stadiums when a test match is on? Why don’t we find zeal to encourage the likes of Vineet Saxena who thrives on the four-day format of the game at the Ranji cricket? One has to remember that as cricket fans, we too are responsible to
encourage the players who grind it and make it and not just those who are flashy. Accept the fact; it’s not always about the administrators of the game. We have to own our responsibility.
This was a two-part series that attempted to highlight the pros and anti views about the brand IPL. One has to remember that for IPL to succeed and for test cricket to survive, fans and administrators have to work in tandem. IPL does create a ground where talent meets opportunities. However, at the same time, there exists a chance where the dazzling stardom for the player and the tournament itself will blind them (players and the tournament) to a point where they fail to rectify what is going wrong. For IPL to survive (without damaging the game of cricket), it has to find a middle ground. There exists a group who believe that whatever wrong happens in the world is due to IPL. Simultaneously, there exist many who think IPL is perhaps the best thing to have happened to world cricket. We need to understand that there exist two sides of argument. The faster we try to rectify the negative, the better will it be for the game.