Indian Premier League has brought about a lot of firsts –the auctioning of cricketers, the salaries of the cricketers reaching an all time high, the introduction of cheerleaders for the teams, the chance for Indian youngsters to mingle with the cricketing greats of different countries and the entertainment industry’s involvement with IPL.
Indian Premier League, the dream of Lalit Mode came true on 18th April 2008 when the maiden IPL match was played between Royal Challengers and Knight Riders. It was designed after an intensive study of the primary sporting leagues around the world such as the NHL, NBA, NFL and EPL. As importantly, the league structure has been modelled so as to flourish in the uniquely Indian context, and drive the development of grassroots talent in Indian cricket.
“IPL is an idea whose time has come, and it will find its rightful position in the cricketing programme,” says Nayar. Nayar, an engineer from IIT, Kharagpur, and an MBA from IIM, Bangalore, was earlier the Regional Director for Yahoo in the Asia-Pacific region, before he took over the reins of IMG from Ravi Krishnan.
Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar has remarked, “IPL is not dumping down the game. It’s just another version of cricket… if the game is going to get globalised in the form of IPL, then why not? It’s better for cricket”. Former Test captain Ajit Wadekar and Chennai Super Kings brand ambassador Kris Srikkanth feel instead of harming Test cricket, twenty20 might just end up doing a favour to it by making it more result oriented and entertaining for crowds. Martin Crowe, former New Zealand Test star also felt the IPL would do more good then harm as it would help international players come together and create better understanding of each other. “… you are seeing real international players mixing with domestic players and it gets us all pretty excited. It will certainly be here for a long time, it is only going to get bigger and grow and we have already seen noises,” he added. Similarly Brian Lara said that this 20-20 cricket can evolve into something bigger in future. He added that people need to wake up to the fact that there are options for players unlike in the past. Kumar Sangakkara has anticipated that Test cricket will get more entertaining as a result of the skills developed in Twenty20. Imran Khan has reacted against IPL considering it as the “death of Test cricket.”
This corporate entwining is definitely going to bring accountability in cricketers to their sponsors. The cricketers must perform to their satisfaction, they must account for every paisa spent on them. The cricketers from the smallest of towns in India have shown tremendous display of talent and character and all of them do want to stand up and be counted and are making the optimum usage of this opportunity of interaction with the worlds best.
Players like P.Vijaykumar and Sarvesh Kumar of Deccan chargers got an opportunity to turn their lives into king size. P.Vijaykumar’s family was a B.P.L. (Below Poverty Line) family before the launch of IPL, now upon getting Rs. 20 lakhs, his life has really changed. The ability to monetize the game has been a hugely positive aspect to the sport, especially since the funds generated are invested in improving cricketing talent and infrastructure in the country. Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi and D.V.Patil Stadium in Mumbai have become spectacular. IPL is spreading the game globally. It has caught the fancy of people across the world with outstanding response from the non-cricketing countries too.
While the experts gauge the success quotient of the IPL, it is important to analyse the event in its totality. Take for instance, the cheerleaders’ controversies like one at PCA Stadium, Mohali have highlighted another aspect of the game. Also, the verbal fight on field turned to physical one in the beginning of matches on 25th April, 2008. It didn’t stopped there and many more verbal exchanges were witnessed throughout like between Shane Warne and Saurav Ganguly.
There will be a transfer window open early next year just ahead of the 2009 season to enable franchise trade players. The second season as of now is a very distant possibility and will not take place definitely until after the 2011 World Cup given the FTP commitments of the Test playing nations and India as told by IPL Chairman Lalit Modi.
It can remain a gentlemen’s game if a card system like football is introduced to ensure discipline on field among cricketers.