Momentarily, let’s all of us make ourselves oblivious of what the IPL is generally tagged with: showbiz, glamour, cheergirls, Siddharth Mallya-Deepika Padukone liplock, sreesanth-harbhajan slapgate, ShahRukh’s somersaults, preity’s loud cheer for her team, pollard-starc ugly spat, Sir Sunil Gavaskar bowing down to the master blaster, England’s ace woman cricketer Isa Guha being coveted as a superstar in India, sponsorships, broadcasting rights, multimedia partners, hotel industry, travel(airline) industry, after night parties, fashion world’s events, franchise owners with heavy purses during the auctions, electronic and print media, housepacked stands in the stadia, Ness-Preity’s relationship status, Shoaib and Sidhu raising their hands for the same team in the studio unlike their playing days, Shilpa-kundra marital journey parallel to the IPL, match fixing scandals and so many more.
Critics stress upon the uninevitable glamour quotient in the IPL, coronating themselves as the cricket aficionados of the ‘purest’ form: test cricket. To all such people out there, I would love to vociferate that the ‘purest’ form of cricket was way back in the seventeenth century in England, when women used to play in hoopla skirts bowling under-arm. After that, all that took over were the transformations in the game.
IPL was inaugurated in 2008. During the same period Zee network’s “Indian Cricket League” was operational. It was an enormous success. The annual tournament, played mostly in Indian summer has gone from strength to strength and is largely viewed as being the ‘richest’ tournament in world cricket.
Until 2012, the Indian Premier League was sponsored by DLF after they paid $50 million for the five-year sponsorship. Pepsi took over the contract for the 2013 IPL after paying close to $72 million for the 5-year contract.
Let’s take a sneek peak at the ‘goodie-goods’ of cricket, now. Every national cricket board in the world wants to incessantly face one problem while selecting its team and that is the problem of plenty. IPL sets the podium for even that. Sunil Narine (for Kolkota Knight Riders) burst onto the global scene when he set the stage on fire in the IPL. After numerous quarrels between the West Indies Cricket Board and Chris Gayle, it were the giant man’s bludgeoning knocks in the IPL (for Royal Challangers Bangalore), that set the path for his entry back to the national team. Azhar Mahmood (from pakistani origin) was drafted onto international cricket arena via IPL(for Kings XI Punjab). Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid, Lasith Malinga (from tests) are few of the great cricketing legends who after calling it quits from the national duty continued to stay in action in the IPL. This is viewed by people with a raised eyebrow round the world as betrayal and insincerity towards one’s own nation citing the greed of money from the cash-rich tournament as the prime reason. The IPL contract vows to pay all its players the entire sum of match fees if the player is available for five matches in one season. So, if it just would have been that greed then all players would have packed their bags and left after the first five league stage matches. So, inevitably there’s something more to it which the spectator isn’t able to speculate. When a Sunil Narine confronts of missing a Test match for his nation just to be the part of deja vu of being champions in IPL, Lasith Malinga announces his retirement from test cricket when the Sri Lankan board stresses upon calling him for playing tests amidst the IPL, ICC sits down to chart out a window for the IPL in the international calendar of cricketing tours and such schedules, Sir Sachin Tendulkar plays in the IPL after retiring from T20Is; then, the human mind should work towards convincing oneself that the mind is unaware and unknown of the aware and the known (by facts… I mean the latent meaning of those facts).
No where in the world one could have seen the coming together of Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh in IPL after the monkeygate in 2008. Its often pressed upon that IPL should not be eyed by the capped players as a platform for staging comebacks in their national teams keeping at bay the other domestic tournaments, but the intellect betrays the eyes. Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir, Chris Gayle, Pat Cummins, Wayne Parnell are to name a few.
The double round-robin format of the tournament is followed by the knockout stage to witness the triumphant team. Besides, all the international players who are mentioned above and some not, IPL does a world of good to the domestic uncapped players. From Paul Valthaty’s euphoric century which made the world witness an Adam Gilchrist as a second fiddle to him, to my personal favourite Pravin Tambe’s blitzkreig hat-trick who arrived onto the IPL stage at the age of 41, this emergence of domestic talent is the biggest withdrawal for me from the game and for many more Indians like me.
A young prodigious Sanju Samson or a Manan Vohra, is a delight to just sit back and watch and exclaim “future is safe now!”. Axar Patel has been stupendous this season, so has been Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav and many more, leaving the Indian think tank with aproblem they would love to face perenially and that is the “problem of plenty’.
Yusuf Pathan’s belligerent 37 ball 100, Amit Mishra’s and Yuvraj Singh’s dual hat-tricks have been exemplary finds from all seasons who have stumped the critics responding with the straight bat simultaneously.
Hence, the tournament is a league for impregnable prodigies.