Thursday, March 11, 2010

Some thoughts on the IPL

As the third season of the IPL approaches, I've become increasingly convinced that the only way I could get interested in it was if the following conditions were met:
  1. I should be the owner of a nice, large-screen television, preferably HD with a quality broadcast to boot

  2. I should be back in India

  3. I should watch the games in the company of a few like-minded friends
My cricket-watching environment, solitary, often with headphones on, sitting at my desk, looking at a computer screen, is only conducive to pursuing well-established passions like test matches. One-day internationals struggle in this setting, and it is only major tournaments that manage to retain my interest (in this regard T20 does well for I watched the World Cup last year with keen interest).

So the IPL will come and go, and while I will tune in for some of the games, I'm not optimistic that it will evoke any significant reactions in me. I almost wish IPL had started off as a purely domestic endeavor; I think I would have been quite pumped up about cheering for Delhi then (after all, there'd be the chance that we could stick it to Mumbai, and who wouldn't want that?).

Which leads to me another thought. What if the IPL, instead of starting off as a grand international league, had simply started off as an Indian domestic competition, on a smaller scale with a little less money (but just enough to make it worthwhile for the Indian international stars to play)? Perhaps the league might not have attracted the glamor, the big bucks, the attendant hoopla. Perhaps. But would the interest have been so minimal that it wouldn't have flourished? I don't think so. Given that, I suspect it would have eased into the world's calendar a little more smoothly. And perhaps in the second or third seasons, IPL owners/organizers could have announced that teams were allowed to retain one or two international players, who might have been attracted because of the decent money available for a few weeks work. Perhaps the IPL would have made a different sort of impact on the cricketing world's consciousness then?

What would the world's attitude to the IPL, to Modi, to Indian cricket, to the BCCI, have been then? What would the average Indian fan's reaction been? I'm not sure what the answers are, and I invite your thoughts and reactions.

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15 Comments:

Blogger straight point said...

And perhaps in the second or third seasons, IPL owners/organizers could have announced that teams were allowed to retain one or two international players, who might have been attracted because of the decent money available for a few weeks work.

you can consider this season as THAT third season... ;-)

9:12 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

SP: :) But seriously, my thoughts were prompted by the earlier hoo-ha about player withdrawals. And even more seriously, I don't think anyone will stay away - money talks!

9:38 AM  
Blogger Jaunty Quicksand said...

I have not watched any of the IPL seasons and don't intend to do so this time either. Various reasons, mentioned here and there on my blog, have put me off the whole enterprise.

Seeing Lalit Modi's mug incessantly on CricInfo is just too galling, at times.

I actually followed the ICL quite closely (not for the results but for the action) and, even today, my mother talks more fondly about the ICL players from Hyderabad than the Deccan folks. I find it odd that CricInfo does not recognize the ICL as organized cricket. Alfred Absolem took 7 wickets in one match but it's like that feat never happened. Among his seven victims were Wavell Hinds, Murray Goodwin, Damien Martyn, Heath Streak and Retinder S Sodhi - not a bad set of folks to snare.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Mohan said...

There was a T20 inter-state tournament before IPL. I don't think anyone even cared about it. No, if it had started as just another domestic tournament, no one would have noticed it.

As for what would world's reaction have been, I don't think anyone other than a few folks connected to CI care about it. Certainly not in India.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

JQ: On my end, the razzle-dazzle is way too distracting; the commentary is just cheerleading; and yes, Modi is way too present. Like you, I have a soft spot for the ICL. It was pretty ballsy, and they scooped the IPL. A small player with a big footprint.

Mohan: So it's not just a domestic tournament then? It can't survive without international players? Or was that only needed for the start and it could do fine on its own now?

12:18 PM  
Blogger Naked Cricket said...

Good one Samir, often think on these lines.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Shridhar Jaju said...

I think you are right Sameer! Mohan: here's the catch. The domestic tournament that you are talking about had the following drawbacks:

1. It wasnt properly televised.
2. It wasnt well publicised.
3. All international stars were not available.
4. And lastly, from what I have caught from Sameer's blog, he was not expecting the IPL to be completely short of the glamour factor. A bit of razzmatazz to attract the crowd - but all centred on cricket. Just to attract more eyeballs towards domestic cricket.

I think why IPL started on such a huge scale is because India won the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in 2007 and BCCI suddenly realised that here's a chance to tap in. And there you go, IPL and Modi are everywhere today.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Mohan said...

Samir: I said, "just another domestic tournamnet". IPL is a domestic tournament, but with a difference. More international players, more publicity. Without those two factors, it couldn't have taken off. Fact that you weren't even aware of its predecessor T20 tournament should tell you what would have been the fate of your proposal.

Yes, now that it has become popular, international players are not as crucial to its success as they were at the beginning. But I don't even see why we need to think about it. They aren't going anywhere. Scale, money, everything is right with IPL. If anything, it needs to get bigger. It can't be just a 6-week tournament for ever. 3 months is a minimum. And then start another 50-over tournament or maybe even 5-day cricket tournament. Goal should be to kill the passport-based structure and replace it with club-based leagues. And that is happening gradually. The passport-based league has just about 3 decent teams - India, South Africa, Australia. Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, West Indies, Pakistan - list of failed teams is growing everyday. NZ will be next I guess. Or maybe they are there already, who can tell.

7:53 PM  
Blogger Satya said...

Samir , i personally feel that your idea is awesome but(think) how many will follow it with same fervor as they do with when a Sachin or Gilchrist or Kallis play ?. Moreover,I think IPL as an international event is gromming our lads in a much better way than a domestic IPL would have. For instance look at Manish Pandey !!!. IPL also tells other sports as to how adapt to changing interest of the people in other words how to attract the masses :).

8:10 PM  
Blogger Mohan said...

Shridhar: I don't know whether it was properly televised, but it was shown live on Neo cricket. But the point is, Samir says he would have been quite pumped up to cheer for Delhi if it were a domestic tournament, yet he is not even aware that there was such a tournament before IPL.

But anyway, the emphasis in his post is all about what the world thinks. How IPL could have fit into the schedule smoothly, what kind of impact it would have had on the world's consciousness, etc. My point is, as far as cricket is concerned, India *is* the world. Or at least 80% of it. There are some bits and pieces outside India, but we don't need to care about it. And as far as India is concerned, IPL has fit in quite nicely, thank you. It has had a fantastic impact on the Indian fans and that's all that matters. It is that reality (that India constitutes 80% of the cricket world and not just one of the ten countries playing cricket), that people need to understand.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

NC: Thanks - glad we have resonance!

7:35 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Shridhar: I agree, and in addition, I would add the IPL was reacting to the ICL formula. Once they had added international stars, the IPL had to.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Satya:No doubt about the educational aspects of the international players. I'm just curious about what the difference would have been with a phased-in approach. After all, if we are 80% of the cricket world, why do we rely so much on the razzle-dazzle of the international players?

8:04 AM  
Blogger Mohan said...

"After all, if we are 80% of the cricket world, why do we rely so much on the razzle-dazzle of the international players?"

Because we had limited ourselves to producing only 11 players all these years by following this stupid passport-based system. Fans had also got used to the idea that there can only be one team for the entire country. To wean them away from the passport-based team and to make them watch this club based league, we needed the presence of international stars.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous SANA KARIM said...

Very Nice post, Great Analysis.

I am happy I got someone who thinks somewhat the way I do.

I wonder you didn't ask, whether IPL IS GOOD OR BAD FOR CRICKET?

I Think IPL WILL DESTROY INTL. CRICKET, IF IT CONTINEUS IN THE SAME WAY!

YOU CAN READ THIS POST & DECIDE YOURSELF:

IPL EXPANDS...BUT WHY?

9:39 AM  

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