By Pradyut Hande:
The eagerly awaited sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) has just gotten underway amidst much fanfare and from the looks of it, promises to dish out a sumptuous smorgasbord of “cricketainment” of the highest pedigree. The tournament’s beauty lies in the fact that it somehow always rises, unscathed through controversies’ galore. Financial irregularities, disbanded franchises, match fixing allegations, political gimmicks and internal “power plays” notwithstanding; the IPL somehow effortlessly ducks under these uncomfortable “bouncers” and rolls on like a juggernaut…growing in magnitude and popularity with each passing season.
We maybe a cricket-crazy nation but the astounding amount of cricket that is being played these days has translated into something that I call the “Dual Fatigue Syndrome“, afflicting both players and the viewers. There is only so much that the average sports aficionado can digest. However, the “Dual Fatigue Syndrome” seemingly goes right out of the window when the IPL comes around, what with everyone wanting a “piece of the action“. The multiple stakeholders involved; from the players and viewers to the organisers, sponsors and allied entities; have gradually come to expect so much more from the cash-rich tournament every single year…and understandably so.
The purists may cringe at the very mention of its name, deploring the format for killing the classical game. However, what they ought to realise is that although the IPL is symptomatic of the frenetic slam-bang, picnic format of the game; cricket at its soul will always remain the “Gentleman’s Game“. Critics may also point to the immense harm the format and nature of the tournament is causing, especially to the careers of youngsters who can easily swayed by the astronomical sums of money involved. Many believe T20 will eventually sound the death knell for Test Cricket and domestic leagues of the IPL’s ilk are playing a leading role towards its swift demise.
However, despite the torrents of criticism levelled at the IPL, it really does stand for so much more than nail-biting high-octane T20 action. Behind all the glitz, glamour and glory; the IPL is a brilliantly packaged, mutually beneficial value proposition for all stakeholders concerned. Its inherent reach, impact and self-sustaining business model makes it a “gold mine” bristling with multiple opportunities at various levels.
Caught in the rigmarole of everyday life, the pulsating action and dash of glamour, characteristic of the IPL, often serves as a “ready release“. Let’s face it. In these times of socio-economic volatility, non-generic political apathy, work related stress and personal pressures; who would say “no” to some quality entertainment?
If cricket is a religion in India, the IPL has to be one of its most revered “temples” where thousands scramble to get a closer glimpse of their cricketing gods in action on the “richest” platforms of them all.