IPL: Crazy About Cricket

Here comes the IPL season. People who generally don’t watch cricket are also found glued to the idiot box, watching the star-studded IPL match. Saas- bahu serials and reality shows have taken a back seat with women ready to taste the masala cricket IPL for a change. Men can finally breathe a sigh of relief over this fortunate escape from remote control fights with women.

With the introduction of IPL, the viewership of cricket has gone up incredibly. People are also noticing an interesting phenomenon this time. According to internet reports of media research by Television Audience Measurement (TAM),the female viewership  of IPL has skyrocketed. The research reports that 38% of all IPL viewers are female this time. The male viewership has however dropped slightly from 66% in IPL-2 to 62% in IPL-3.

What is it about IPL that is driving people crazy? Is it the glitz and glamour associated with cricket that is attracting more crowds or the actual game being played?

Entertainment and star quality has surely got a part to play when it comes to charming the crowd. The IPL broadcasters are collaborating with entertainment channels and film stars. People are heading to the IPL stadium in flocks, to watch Business tycoons like Mukesh Ambani,Vijay Mallya  and celebrities like Shahrukh Khan, Shilpa Shetty, Preity Zinta  leading their respective teams along with the cricket stars. Not to forget the dazzling cheerleaders who brighten up the whole atmosphere. There are post match events like IPL nights and Fashion shows with top models walking the ramp with grace and vanity. One can have a VIP treatment in the stadium by opting for IPL Club Lounge package tickets where you get an official IPL nights invite. Here you can wine and dine with the coveted cricket celebrities. You can enjoy the IPL fashion show and meet the famous designers showcasing their work and top models walking the ramp. You also get free merchandise kit containing team T-shirt, cap and a miniature bat. But as everything comes with a price tag, this special ticket would cost an exorbitant amount of Rs 35,000- Rs 40,000.Ardent IPL lovers are however not hesitant to buy this expensive ticket if it gives them an opportunity to be a part of the grand IPL event.

Media has also taken some bold steps to mint money from IPL hullabaloo. Internet has taken a lead over TV by covering the entire event through online live IPL on various websites. Now there is a new plan of beaming the matches live in 1,000 multiplexes and cinema halls spread across the country. This initiative would let the fans staying in far flung places enjoy the excitement of the stadium by watching the match on big screen.

IPL is a complete package. It has cleverly managed to attract the attention of the avid audience and not so avid audience by combining the two major craze Indians have ie  Cricket and Bollywood. Men attend the matches to watch the game while women usually come to the stadium to have a good time watching the stars and gossiping about them with their buddies.

“IPL is a way to encourage young aspiring players” says MS Dhoni. In IPL budding players get to rub shoulders with experienced national and international players. It is a good way to groom young talent. They get to learn a lot from the veteran players. Cricket would no longer be a far-fetched dream for someone who is passionate about pursuing it as a career. IPL also creates a good team spirit when the Indian players play along with the International players in a single team. By bringing together players from different cultural backgrounds, it creates unity in diversity. When the match is extended to over 5 days, not everyone is able to watch it from start till end. But IPL being only for a short duration of 3 hours gives everyone the advantage of following the game completely without missing any part of the event.

Not everyone is happy though with cricket becoming a glamour game. With its high entertainment quotient some feel that IPL is not cricket at all. It’s more of a money making business. Over million dollars are poured into promoting the teams, making the advertisements and holding various events in the stadium. With all this money in mind, the players would lose their focus on the game. Former India Captain Rahul Dravid said recently “Young players of today lack love for test cricket. They don’t have the pressure we had to do well in test cricket. The cricketers of today are more than happy showcasing their talent in IPL”. An aspiring player should not take IPL as a short route to fame and success. A successful cricketer needs to have strong foundation and year long experience to learn the details of this art. IPL is all about scoring runs faster and hitting the ball harder. Everything is so quick that attention to detail is lost and the players don’t get the deeper essence of the game. The quality of the game also suffers to some extent. With big bucks spent on buying each player, IPL appears more like gambling.

Concentrating on the positive aspects of IPL, we can just hope that the real game of cricket doesn’t get shrouded in the game of glamour trying to satisfy our insatiable appetite for entertainment.

IPL is creating unimaginable ripples worldwide. So let us all enjoy sailing on this wave of verve and vigor.

Swati Ramnath

Image Courtesy: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/67/IPL_T20_Chennai_vs_Kolkata.JPG