IPL may have its controversies but it still has more good than bad
An insight into the merits & demerits of the Indian Premier League and the joys a cricket lover gets from some of the scintillating contests…
The Indian Premier Leage (IPL) is now in its seventh year and still continues to polarize opinion almost as much as Narendra Modi. With the advent of the IPL ever year, there are hordes of articles, blogs and comments from people who hate the IPL. There are also some ardent cricket fans who couldn’t care less about the IPL.
They have their own valid reasons right from the cheerleaders on the ground, on the set of Extra innings, “Yes Bank Maximums”, player kits which can barely accommodate the team’s name due to the plethora of sponsor logos and the seemingly ridiculous three year auction process.
Controversies have also surrounded the IPL ever since inception. The first commissioner of the IPL, Lalit Modi was given a life ban, the Kochi franchisee was terminated and the most recent and worst of them all, the spot fixing charges. All these incidents and some more like the on-field spats between Harbhajan Singh and S. Sreesanth, Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli, Kieran Pollard and Mitchell Starc leave a bad taste in the mouth indeed.
Of course, the IPL still remains hugely popular in India as well as all over the world. The huge crowds seen at venues in India, South Africa and UAE is proof of that. While people might have their own different reasons for thronging the stadium or staying glued to their television sets, I believe that if you remove all the bells and whistles of the IPL it remains a very high quality contest between bat and ball.
In the IPL, you get contests and partnerships that you can only dream of. Your fantasy teams, best 11s etc. become a reality to an extent in some of the IPL teams. Would anyone have ever dreamed of seeing Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya opening together on a regular basis? Or Virender Sehwag and David Warner walk out together? Or Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds not just seeing eye-to-eye but sharing the same dressing room.
In this IPL itself we are seeing unarguably the two best batsmen in the world – Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers playing for the same side. In addition, the RCB team has Chris Gayle who is one of the most destructive batsmen ever. But the best contest seen over the last couple of years has been the one between AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn. How lucky are South Africa that they have these two at peak form and fitness but how lucky are we that we not only get to see these two playing together but also against each other. A contest confined to the nets is now seen by all and it is a spectacle indeed!
While there might be many Indians who are not happy with the IPL, there is one bunch of Indians for whom the IPL has been a huge bonus and that is the young Indian domestic players. Not only do they get to showcase their talent in front of a huge audience, they also get a huge economic boost.
While money may not be a problem for players who are regular in the Indian team, the ones playing only domestic tournaments have to worry about this aspect. But the most important benefit which they get is sharing the dressing room with high quality international players. Just by observing the international players and talking with them they gain invaluable knowledge.
In addition, there are high quality mentors and coaches like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Gary Kirsten, Jonty Rhodes, etc. An Indian domestic player even if he doesn’t play a single match can learn important aspects of the game like strategy, technique, practice, preparing for a match and much more by just being with the squad.
The IPL is definitely not perfect and there are many areas in which it can and should improve. However, I believe that the gains for viewers and players alike are much more. Obviously it should aim to be controversy free and issues like spot fixing need to be addressed strictly and urgently. But banning the league (as some people suggested) due to a few bad apples is not the solution.
Even the Italian Serie A had a match fixing scandal and a high profile club like Juventus was relegated to the second tier but the league went on. I also feel that since all teams are well settled and more or less at the same level, there is no real need to have a full auction every three years.
Transfer windows like in the football leagues should be more than sufficient. That will ensure a sense of belonging among players and spectators alike and also give the players a say in their future team. To put it simply, if the IPL remains in the news only due to high quality cricket and not otherwise, that will be the ideal scenario.