Saturday, February 23, 2008
IPL: What does it hold for Indian sports future?
IPL (Indian Premier League) had the auctioning of its players recently. And from what can be seen a huge amount of money has been spent by industrialists on bidding for players on their team. The IPL will kick off in April with a total of 59 twenty20 matches. More information can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Premier_League
It is basically trying to create a sporting event somewhat on the lines of Premier Leagues that are seen in soccer or baseball. As in players play for clubs and clubs are involved in bidding for players they want.
So how will the IPL change the way cricket is played in India as well as the world?
Only time will shed some light on this question. But from what was seen in the twenty20 world cup, this version of cricket does generate a lot of appeal because of its fast entertainment providing way. No more waiting for days or hours to watch the outcome of the match. Like in popular sports like soccer or tennis, less boring moments can be expected by the spectators. So basically I feel that in terms of the entertainment factor, the IPL will succeed in providing a lot of cricketing entertainment to spectators. But then what happens to the other forms of the game i.e One day cricket and Test matches. Well, from what has been seen since the introduction of twenty20 is that Test matches are still popular especially among the purists and they still generate interest among the viewers. It seems like One day cricket is the one which might suffer loss of interest because people do find twenty20 better in terms of entertainment that the One dayers. Also there is the issue that can good twenty20 players play well in One days and Tests? Well, I think twenty20 players can do pretty well in One days but Test matches require real skill and the instinct of a twenty20 player will make him unsuitable for the longer version of the game. On the positive side, some guys might emerge who are kind of allrounders who can play all versions of cricket with ease and that will be exciting.
A thought has to be given to the bowlers who will bowl in twenty20 matches. Bowlers will have to have real heart to participate in these matches as batsmen will surely score a lot of runs from them on most days. So while the number of wickets they take will increase, their run rate will increase as well.
Some purists have shown displeasure with the IPL and it's bidding because it seems like commercialization of cricket. Well, cricket was commercialized since a long time and the spirit of cricket hardly matters nowadays. It can only be found in Test matches if any. As previously stated, twenty20 and IPL are for entertainment sports. But there is also a thought provoking side to this. As some people have mentioned time and again why is it that only cricket generates such revenue. If something similar would be done for other sports (hockey, football, etc), we would be having better teams, better players and better interest in those sports by now. Well, I feel the reason for that is a cycle. Cricket seems like the only sport in which India does show some skill and winning ability. Other sports (hockey is an on/off thing, not like it used to be and don't even talk about football) can compete with cricket only if the produce some great wins backed up by good promotion. But then promoting other sports is what is lacking. Hoping someday this might change. Personally, even I have more interest in cricket that in other sports (hoping to change this).
So in short, what IPL will do is it will strengthen people's interest in cricket (as twenty20 world cup did when India was knocked out of the ICC World Cup). Sure players are now more like pieces of talent to be sold or bought but then considering how it has worked for soccer hopefully the same happens for cricket.
So, let's wait for IPL to begin and enjoy the show.