The Indian Premier League, at the time of its launching, had a huge mantle of weight upon its shoulders. It was seen as a unique bridge, bringing together national and international players of the sport in the same arena along with providing wholesome cricketing entertainment for the masses.
However, to cut a long fairy-tale short, nothing of the sort happened. Entertainment was provided – more off the pitch than on it but focus on core cricket started to dilute year-by-year and season-by-season. The latest controversy in an otherwise season five is a glaring slap-in-the-face, proving that even franchise-level cricketing tournaments are affected and afflicted with the desire to earn money in the most unscrupulous way possible.
But even as these negatives about the IPL emerge, can anyone truthfully open up to the fact that they have given up following the IPL hoopla? Where in the 90s, the crowds used to mill about stores and TV showrooms for catching a live match in action during a vital series or during the World Cup; today the situation occurs for an IPL match – any IPL match for that matter.
Mumbaikars have started to come up with placards denoting and justifying, why Mumbai Indians should win the IPL for Sachin Tendulkar. And every time that Kolkata plays against Sourav Ganguly’s latest team, the Bengalis pray that Kolkata should lose and Dada should score a century, just so that the owner of KKR understands the relevance and stature of Dada.
The stands might not be to full capacity, yet the beagle of the IPL theme music still pushes the crowd to its feet. Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly and Dhoni still are the peoples’ favourites and in terms of marketability, attract the most number of sales. Talking about international players, many of the West Indian players opted to play in the IPL rather than represent their national squad against Australia, while other international players fulfilling national obligations could be found playing for their franchisees, mere hours after the completion of their national obligation. Such is the frenzy of the IPL.
In a nation like India where the people are cricket-starved, even while enjoying an almost uninterrupted cricketing season, events like the IPL can never go out of fashion. On the contrary – even while appearing to be judgmental – it would be perhaps safe to say that in these controversies that the IPL finds its ultimate entertainment and publicity groove.