Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Has the IPL hit its nadir?

This is a piece i wrote for the May edition of the Youth Incorporated magazine.Though a bit late, hope this reproduction here makes for a pleasant read.

Title: Has the IPL hit its nadir?

Intro: After the many low points the IPL has suffered over the past few years, Nisarg Kamdar asks if the brand worth billions will come shining through the present season

As the month of May draws to a close, so does the sportaintment carnival that IPL is. A two-month long cricketing jamboree, besprinkled with the extravagant elites and the glamorous Bollywood celebs to up the oomph factor, IPL has been a roller coaster ride with the troughs far outnumbering the crests.

The Origins

The provenance of the IPL is premised on the emergence of the rebel T20 cricket league – The Indian Cricket League. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) seeing the copious amounts of apostates in the domestic and veteran circuits ready to jump ships in the lure of heavier pockets, initially responded rather immaturely with severe sanctions.

Having now fully appraised the very threat to its iron grip on the reins of Indian Cricket, the BCCI through its maverick Vice President Lalit Modi responded with the IPL, a professional 20-20 cricket league, one that promised to be the glitziest of all sporting shindigs. The IPL quickly signed up some of the world’s greatest players onto its roster. With the delicate intrigue of the auction packaged with flamboyant owners, the IPL seemed a winner. The city-based formats whipped up the desired frenzy and the player auctions ensured top billing in the media. The mind-boggling sums of money did no harm to its burgeoning popularity in a country obsessed with figures. Player salaries skyrocketed. Cricket sycophants boasted that India now had a product that was comparable, at least financially, to the English Premier League. 

The Formative Seasons
The inaugural seasons of the IPL lived up to its billing. Brendon McCullum and the Kolkata Knight Riders exploded on to the stage when they hammered Vijay Mallya’s Royal Challengers Bangalore in the opener. The first season was capped by a cliff-hanger on the field where the underdogs, Rajasthan Royals beat Chennai Super Kings in a cliff-hanger of a finale.

The stellar level of cricket was well complemented/distracted by the enchanting bevy of beauties sensually grooving to the tracks belted out by international DJ's. Celebrity spotters had a field day; the IPL was one forum where the whole array ranging from the Bollywood star to the fading, decrepit socialite could find acceptance.

The fact that the sudden exposure to international shores – South Africa – in the second season, straight from the incubator back in India-caused no freckles and to the contrary enhanced the league’s reputation was testimony to the fact that the IPL had made the transition from a domestic tournament to a global athletic pursuit. The revitalised movement to sneak cricket into the Olympics gained further impetus.

The Grandest Stage of All
The IPL was fast being used to catapult into the senior national team from the innocent confines of the U-19 Indian team or local leagues. This springboard paid great dividends of the loyal toilers of the Ranji league who fail to attract attention in the monotone of domestic cricket.

Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Rahul Sharma , Ashok Dinda and Yusuf Pathan were a few who piggybacked from near obscurity to limelight on the back of strong and vigorous IPL display.

If you want to get acquainted with a pressure cooker situation, IPL is the place. IPL has sparked of a global breed of cricketers who are blasé in the face of daunting challenges or inflated expectations. They might be short on footwork and batting techniques but never devoid of self confidence and bullishness.

The chance to learn from cricketing legends is also unparallelled. Virat Kohli was sharing a dressing room with Jacques Kallis. John Buchanan , the coach who has won a hat trick of world cups, was imparting valuable words of wisdom to Ashok Dinda. The cricketer you idolised and modelled your game upon was now literally a request away. This amiable atmosphere helped nourish and mould some of the most prodigious talents in the game today.

Financial behemoth
The IPL in a way has been an embodiment of the stunning capitalist growth unravelling in the country. The mind-boggling numbers involved have given premium sports franchises a run for their money. It ensured windfall gains for the BCCI.

At the start of only it’s second season a report by a UK-based consultancy pegged the IPL’s worth at over $4 billion. The commodity has successfully found its own space in the world of clogged cricket calendars ensuring the biggest attraction at every season. Its popularity extends well beyond the peripheries of the cricket-crazy subcontinent .The various slavish leagues subsequently announced by other cricket boards is tribute to the ingenuity of the league.

It has sparked its own niche industry. The IPL has been mighty successful in making cricket a more acceptable game throughout the masses. While test cricket had a limited loyal base in the purists and the ODI appealed to the proletariat, the IPL

Controversy Magnet
The IPL has been the nursing home for several controversies, which have largely taken off the sheen of the league. The slapgate controversy was a poor example of sportsmanship and later trickled down to the festering ugliness in the Indian cricket team.

The late night after-match parties brought to notice the lascivious tone the league had adopted and brought the league serious public disrepute. The league has also been mired in financial scandals with serious allegations of tax evasions, money laundering and presence of nefarious elements in the ownership structure being levied. The Enforcement
Directorate has been on its case and with fresh revelations being made on a weekly basis, the league is certainly not deprived of bad press.

The unceremonious circumstances which not only pilloried a Union minister for State, Shashi Tharoor but also guillotined the League’s founder Chairman, Lalit Modi, called into question the league’s probity or lack of it. Allegations have been levelled on auctions being fixed, contracts been manipulated and illicit dealings. The Madras High Court has taken a strong stand on the issue and has made its displeasure clear at IPL being allowed to evade entertainment task under the guise of being public entertainment while tickets command at exorbitant rates.

The present IPL is a decisive and critical one. Now that the novelty has rubbed off, whether the league will be able to hold its own and still enchant viewers is of significant importance. The teams have had sufficient time to build up a loyal supporter and sponsor base. Whether the success of the Indian Cricket team at the international stage in anyway fuels the massive glory of the IPL will also be observed. What we can expect is a month and half of some slam bang cricket laced with appropriate amount of glamor and speculation to keep the tabloids happy.


The IPL is- at it's best- an extra-ordinary attempt to further exemplify the glory of the revolution cricket has turned out to be, in the last few decades. Following the footsteps of EPL, the IPL has turn ed out to be an extremely fascinating, entertaining phenomenon albeit on a slightly smaller footing. The thrill of T20 encounters, coupled with the explosive stadium atmosphere as well as the novelty involved in watching players from different countries team up together, all add up to make IPL one of the mega-events to look out for, every year!
It is sad however, to be a witness to the fact that Pakistan has been left out purely because of political reasons. Sports are a bridge towards better international relations, not a means to apply pressure. Same goes for the revelation of scams and money siphoning in the course of bidding. It brings to mind several doubts about India being ready to host a tournament of such mammoth proportions, money wise.
In terms of overall impact to the game, the IPL may have taken some sting out of classic international ODI or test series, but that is only a sign that we are gradually shifting to a newer paradigm. The 3 hour format of the game does impact the player's mindset drastically, but as a spectator, it's nothing better than wholesome entertainment. Maybe it's not too far-fetched to believe there will be more Mumbai Indians fans than Chelsea ones someday. Who knows!

Ipl has become an out and out business.Its pros are that it increased the international exposure for Indian players and even greater monetary gains and recognitions but it has all culminated down to a country v/s club debate which never ever existed before.....and even it has led to people retiring from longer versions of the game....people performing in ipl are given better opportunities as opposed to seasoned ranji players....if you don't have the attacking power you are just not considered.....test cricket is the only parameter to judge who a true batsman or bowler is not a twenty20 match....
with all its hype and fever i guess one day it will just take down the international arena to an all time low....which is not good for the sport...:(

Club-country dilemma has affected in a way that players have started performing for their respective
ipl teams and have underperformed on the international arena......prime examples are malinga and rohit sharma....

As a fan it does bother me its alarming and quite saddening to see this downfall in terms of country matches.....
and football system is not preferable because its a different ball game and you cant merge all three forms of the game at club level...
-Russel Shah, First year engineering student

Friday, 4 May 2012


In what universe is this racist?
Aren't most of my countrymen dark skinned?
Doesn't majority of this country have an accent which some choose to describe as 'funny'?
Or has this just 'caused an existential crisis among the urban dwellers whose fascination with fair skin knows no bounds.
Have they been finally rid of their delusions they seemed to have developed by isolating themselves in Air Conditioned offices on the 36th floor of some lousy sky scraper while having their face smothered by the assorted bunch of fairness creams?
Personally the response has much more more undertones of racism than the stimulation.