20 April 2008


The Brainchild of Lalit Modi, The Indian Premier League got off to a flyer at Bangalore on the 18th of April, 2008, with SRK doing a “Chak De Kolkata!” and Vijay Mallya wondering why Dravid, Jaffer and Kallis are considered the World’s steadiest players (hee hee). Brendon McCullum made sure India (and hmmm... the world, perhaps?) sat up and took notice of what was going on. A blitzkrieg 158 in 73 deliveries with 13 sixes and 10 fours was more than just a wake up call to Bangalore’s Royal Challengers. It was also an alarm to the World, “IPL’s here.” But, is it here to stay?

The Basic structure of IPL has been a ditto of the English Premier League (EPL) Soccer. But then, the season is different. The atmosphere is different. And of course, the location.. It’s different. If a cricket tourney on such mammoth proportions can succeed, it must be in the subcontinent… Where Cricket is far more than just a religion, and cricketers, either Gods or Devils (Classification positively performance based ). But there’s one fact that still hangs as a question mark over IPL’s future. EPL extends from June to April every year. That is so, because Club football is the name of the game and International football is.. let’s say…scarce. International Cricket, on the other hand, is what Cricket is all about. Is IPL just going to be a fun-filled extravaganza held once or twice an year, when every major cricketing country decides it’s time for a two-week break? Or is it going to follow in the footsteps of the EPL for good? To put all questions together, Is IPL the dawn of a new era in the world of Cricket, the defining moment when ICC rethinks its strategies? Or a passing cloud, like the ICL was/is and may be, will be. Only Time, BCCI, ECB, CA and ICC can decide.

Cricket has become boring, have you heard? Test matches don’t get the kind of rousing reception they used to get, even in the subcontinent. The Ind-SA series held recently, was a perfect example. I could see many empty seats on weekdays and/or the first 2 days of the Chennai test match (Even when Indian batsmen were on song, forget the Motera!) People perhaps think Cricket is a good pastime for the weekend (Well, I should say, the cricket-crazy-cacophonics have matured. It’s high time they stopped seeing Cricket as Wars on the Cricket field, and real Wars as a pastime on Television sets and News channels). The inaugural IPL seems to have its set of issues, from print media coverage to the crowd, with a news site reporting SRK wondering why only 237 tickets were sold for a Knight Riders’ match at Kolkata some days earlier. Probably Preity Zinta won’t have such issues We are a set of PZFs (No.. Not PDFs.. This means “Preity Zinta Fans”) who wouldn’t let her down. Yay! ...and Oh, SRK needn’t worry anymore. McCullum just got every Kolkata fan on his/her feet, and how!

Stopping this beating around the garden thing, let’s get back to the EPL-IPL mismatch. Lalit can expect the first version to be a success, but the succeeding versions and the future of IPL hang by a thread. (Some sites and blogs swear it is worse than that). We’ve seen the reception for the Edelweiss-ICL (second version) held recently. Think Modi, you can do better.

EPL matches, as many of you may know, are on weekends mostly. Now that ICC has no other options but to accept IPL’s arrival and study Modi’s money-minting-network, BCCI can in fact, go ahead and look at the possibility of a league on the lines of EPL, through the year, or at least a few months! Of course , International matches should be given top priority, lest it back fires on BCCI. But coming to think about it, the idea can, in fact, succeed. Under normal circumstances, at any point of time, an average of three countries ( 2 half the time and 4 at other times) would require their players for International Duty. And worst case, six countries. We still have players from four test playing nations + Ireland + Scotland + Canada + the domestic talent on the cards. That’s enough to field 12 players, huh? Yeah, players will have a tough time shuttling between continents, but if their schedule isn’t too harsh, they indeed can manage their time, given the IPL glitz generated over the week...and this is where the International Cricket Council steps in.

One question now. Are all the top notch talents in the world part of IPL? No. There is still a lot of talent to tap in, on the British Isles and the Caribbean Isles, to name a few. Not to forget ICL, with its top quality players , who can be our own SPL(Scottish Premier League). Oh well, just kidding. The Stanford 20-20 in the Caribbean Isles can be globalised to a certain extent (say, 4 players max from outside the Windies or like that). It can be worked out, definitely. There’s no denying that a lot of international players are willing to settle there for life, and swing to the Caribbean music. And ECB’s plans to work out a league of its own should be carefully planned and executed, for England is more Soccer-crazy. (Don’t you mess with Football, now! – from a Soccer-holic). Bottomline, ECB may end up getting the finger from the English fan-dom.

Yeah, coming back to what ICC can plan, The International tours can be restricted to 9 months an year, to start with, and the other 3 to the T20 leagues to have a good time. ICC will end up victorious in financial affairs, and oh, u seriously have a doubt? A lot of players have been complaining that International schedules are too harsh now. “9 months and done, mate. Go to your family.” Sounds like a good employer, doesn’t it? And the humans that the players are, they’d be lured by the leagues and they’d end up playing those 3 months for S20, IPL, ICL or ECL (English Cricket League, hee hee). A Nokia Man Of The Match contest, A Charlie Webster (or someone half as beautiful) for a presenter, match up sessions, expert predictions, fantasy leagues(this one’s already on!), Transfer window rumours, what else can you ask for, yeh Cricket fan? And oh , an ICC Champions’ league between the top teams from various leagues, perhaps? Bliss! And Everyone is happy, come EOD.

You: “EOD?”
Me: “Am a software engineer.. “
You : “Oh…”
Me : “Yeah..”

And if ICC doesn’t want to accept this radical change looming around Cricket, or answer this indirect question posted by Lalit, “Come on ICC, Compare your bank accounts to that of FIFA, will you?” The Ball, and IPL’s future, is in ICC’s Change-control-committee’s court!

Whatever that future may be, It is clear for now that Lalit Modi has proved his business acumen, and that is the bottom line. Some say Brendon Mccullum would find a place in tenth grade history books, and Some say that the entire credit, in future, would go to Zee and Kapil Dev’s efforts. Or Would it?

1 comment:

  1. Well ya i do agree with the success of further edition of the IPL
    still hangs in the air,but we still have to wait and see how long IPL sustains its hype,and yes with players like that no wonder Royal challengers have earned the tittle as the "test team" of the t20league.