The 2015 edition of the IPL is thus done and dusted. Mumbai Indians take home the cup, while the Chennai Super Kings miss out on glory. The stadiums look deserted, no more listening to “India ka Tyohaar” in a loop (not necessarily liking it though), no more rooting for our favourite teams. It is not hard to see what has bewitched cricket aficionados with the Indian Premier League. Who would say no to a condensed format of some blistering exhibition of exciting cricket?
In sync with our love for drama and blitz, the Indian Premier League was launched in 2008. Eight seasons down, the fixture has sure caused a ruckus. There had been a lot of hue and cry over the club culture and the game losing its “sanctity”. Dough has been doled out by capitalizing on the league’s popularity- merchandise, broadcasting rights, advertisement inflows, promotions and gate receipts.
There was a lot of hullaballoo over after match parties, the so-called “sacrilegious” treatment of the Gentleman’s game, with ex-players like Ian Botham criticizing it, but the format, with all its glamour, became the cricket-crazy-Indian public’s opium.
Without blatantly abusing the format calling it a parade of pomp and property, something that has already been said, let’s move on to the few, favourable things about the IPL.
Capitalism, as even a non-Randian would agree, creates opportunities. In spite of looking like a thinly veiled corporate propaganda, the IPL has led to an inflow of money. The grand event that it is, the fixture has a need for support staff, both on and off the field (for example, cheerleaders). Fresh talent has been spotted (not given enough opportunities though) and “sporting associations, companies and other stakeholders” (Prakash Gupta, UNGA Session) have had a field day. Salaries of players have also hiked, many times exceeding those paid by national bodies.
We’re not trying to make a moral case for capitalism here. What we’re saying, rather, is that the commercialization of cricket that has followed the IPL, has had its positives too.
Time to traverse boundaries
Nothing binds people together like sports. Not just fans, but in this case, also the players. The league has provided ground to forgo enmity and forge new friendships. We saw Andrew Symonds and Harbhajan Singh don blue tees and get on the ground, and the polar vortex that existed between them waned down a bit. Helping bridge the gulf between individuals with, well, ‘warring impulses’, has certainly been a major, perhaps offshoot, achievement of the IPL.
As Shane Warne and Ravi Shastri have said on numerous occasions, the IPL is a wonderful platform for player interaction. The gelling of players from different countries and ethnicities is a huge step in bridging the gap between many a country. In addition, the IPL provides a platform for the younger players to interact with the legends of the game.
Apart from the many positives, the IPL is known to bring people together. The hotstar advertisement is the perfect example of the previous statement. While cricket remains the focus of the IPL, the tournament is pure entertainment for persons of all ages. As much as we hate to admit that cricket is gradually getting killed, one must admit that the IPL serves as a topic of discussion between different generations of fans.
Spotting fresh talent
In addition, the IPL has played a huge role in motivating a significant number of youngsters to take up the sport. 17 year-old Sarfaraz Khan has been a prime example of the future of Indian cricket. Besides, the IPL has unearthed quite a few whiz kids from the country. Pawan Negi and Sanju Samson are among the recent talents who are currently on the radar of the Indian cricket team.
Impact of IPL on the public:
As we all know, the IPL is watched and worshipped by millions of fans across the world. In India, we see people gathering outside television showrooms, restaurants, shopping malls, etc. Nowadays, all restaurants and sports lounges are equipped with facilities to screen any sports event. They attract their customers by using IPL as a bait and these customers are more than happy if they get to watch a game and at the same time dine out.
So, even with the cesspool of controversies that it has ended up in, in the past, the Indian Premiere League has managed to make those with a zeal for cricket go back to it. For in the end, in spite of the cacophony created by the Bollywood-ization of the game, the melody does unfurl between the ball and the willow.