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Has the IPL taken away more than it has given?

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IPL image
By Harshmeet Singh

‘Cometh the Indian summer, and comes the money spinner IPL with all its glitz and glamour!’ If the crowds at the stadium and the glamour of celebrities present are anything to go by, the success of IPL can’t be denied even by the staunchest of critics. But the ever debatable question remains, ‘Can something which includes dancing cheerleaders, late night parties and allegations of fixing be called a ‘gentleman’s game’ anymore?’ The recent allegations from a Rajasthan Royals player about being offered money to play ‘according to a predetermined plan’ has again brought the IPL into question.

Like any other form of entertainment, the IPL has its own set of controversies. The ugly face of match fixing resurfaced yet again through the doors of IPL in 2013 and engulfed three Indian players with it. Some say that corruption is inevitable when millions are at stake. But can this be taken as an excuse for hurting the dignity of the game which is worshiped by billions across the world?

Did IPL come into being for cricketing reasons?

In 2007, the Zee Entertainment Enterprises launched a private T20 cricket league, known as the ‘Indian Cricket League’, with teams from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and World XI. Not pleased by ‘invasions’ into its territory, the BCCI wasted little time in banning most of all the players participating in the league and the stadiums that hosted the matches. Seeing the revenue potential of the ICL, the BCCI came up with the idea of IPL and roped in the best cricketers from around the world, using its deep financial reserves.

The first of the many controversies attached to the IPL took down Lalit Modi, the brain behind the league. Charged with misconduct and indiscipline, Modi was subsequently removed from the IPL and banned for life from the BCCI. Modi, in return, blamed the BCCI for conspiring against him and hatching his ouster.

IPL or the honor of representing the nation?

During a press conference at the world cup, when asked about whether associate nations should get a chance to play more games against top nations, MS Dhoni said, “Yes! But not against India! I don’t see even a few days off to play any more cricket than what we play. If you see the cricket fraternity, the nations, they have a calendar of 12 months in which they play a lot of Test matches and ODIs. I don’t know what’s the number. Our calendar is nine and a half months because in the other two and a half months, we play the IPL and the Champions League. And yet, we match every other Test-playing nation when it comes to the number of Test matches and ODI cricket. I don’t see India playing any more games.”
Citing IPL and the Champions League as an excuse to deny International matches to the associate nations isn’t in the best interest of the game. But Dhoni can’t be blamed for such scheduling. Playing for the country is, undoubtedly, the biggest honor for any sportsperson. But to say that money doesn’t matter at all would be incorrect too. A player with average skills, in the IPL, ends up making over $2 million from the 8 week long tournament, which is much more than what an Indian player would make in an entire year, if he plays regularly for India in all three formats of the game. A number of West Indies players have, in fact, refused to sign national contracts to make themselves available for domestic T20 leagues played around the world. There is no guarantee that the same won’t happen to the players of other nations.

Where is the off season now?

The rigor of International cricket results in frequent injuries to players. The ‘off season’ is usually the time when players get a chance to cope up from their stress and be available for the next International tourney with all the vigor. With the off season now being taken by the IPL, the injury management program for the players has gone for a toss! The frequent matches and daily flights give no time to the players to attend to their body and nurse their body niggle.

Where is your technique Sir?

The boom boom format of the IPL means that the players’ technique is no longer important. India’s gloomy performance in test matches in the foreign land in the past few years stands testimony to the declining technique of Indian players. The Indian players have been found wanting on alien pitches which are nowhere close to the friendly domestic pitches where the ball hardly bounces above the waistline. These days, seldom do you see any Indian player playing in England’s county cricket to sharpen his skill set. Some of the best Indian players of all time, including Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Saurav Ganguly, Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev, have all had notable stints in the county cricket with their respective sides. In comparison, hardly any present day cricketer (apart from Pujara) has turned towards county to play on challenging pitches to fine tune his skills.

This festival of cricket also brings a number of high points with itself. Out of the millions of aspiring cricketers, only a handful gets to wear the Indian jersey at the International stage. For the others, an opportunity to share dressing room with their idols is a dream that only an IPL contract can fulfill. The humongous pay gap between the Indian International crickets and domestic players is filled by the IPL to a certain extent, giving the much needed financial stability to lesser known players. The opinions about the IPL would always remain grey, but certain fine-tuning to minimize the shortcomings would only make the league better and brighter.

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ICC T20 World Cup Chances of Taking Place in Current Times

Let us recall the T20 World Cup tournaments and its winners

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ICC T20 World Cup
“Recently India has offered a proposal to swap T20 World Cup with Australia and host it instead of postponing the game next year,” Mr. Sunil Gavaskar was quoted saying. Wikimedia Commons

It is an understatement that every Indian loves cricket, for some of them its a religion and legendary cricketer like Sachin Tendulkar is called God of it. Amidst the chaos of life, we Indians will always find something to preach or prophesied about the enticing ambiguity of matches, it’s like we are born with this. We visit various cricket betting sites to get the most understanding of which matches to bet on. Many cricket tournaments have been postponed like ICC T20 World Cup.

Due to the cancellation / postponement of various cricket tournaments like the Indian Premier League (IPL), The Hundred and various other domestic leagues it is too early to comment on whether the tournament will start on the said fixture or will we move the T20 championship to next year.

As per a statement released by Mr. Sunil Gavaskar- “Recently India has offered a proposal to swap T20 World Cup with Australia and host it instead of postponing the game next year,”.

All these are just conjectures/speculations as nothing has yet been approved. Major board decisions will need to be taken for various international fixtures, eventually boiling down to the T20 world cup tournament itself.

Let us go down the memory lane of the T20 World Cup tournaments and its winners.

ICC T20 world cup
The T20 world cup is an international tournament that is organized by ICC after a period of every 2 years. (Representational Image). Pixabay

The Advent of the T20 world cup.

The T20 world cup is an international tournament that is organized by ICC after a period of every 2 years. In totality ‘six editions’ of the tournament have been played successfully so far and is by far one of the most popular tournaments apart from IPL for the newer format of cricket – 20 overs game.

The maiden edition of the T20 World Cup was played in 2007 in South Africa, and the Indian team emerged as the winner of that tournament. Because of the immense success garnered by Men’s World T20, Women’s World T20 was also introduced in the year 2009.

Short briefing regarding all the six wondrous editions of the T20 World Cup.

2007 ICC Inaugural T20 World Cup (Winner- India)

 In 2007, T20 world cup made its debut with bells and whistles, as 12 teams competed for the maiden title in South Africa between 11 September to 24 September, this edition was summed up in 27 enticing matches.

The first edition of the T20 world cup received a huge appreciation from all over India. The format was so refreshing and innovative that it carved a special space in all our hearts, thus making it a colossal success. One of the most cherished moments of the match was when Indian batsman Yuvraj Singh smacked 6 sixes in an over of Stuart Broad and made a world record of making 50 in 12 balls.

In the finals, India defeated its arch rival-Pakistan in a neck to neck competition, both the teams playing at their best but at the end moment Pakistan succumbed to score the six runs they needed from the last over. Punters reading the cricket betting tips could have predicted that India is going to win this edition.

ICC T20 World Cup in 2007
India won the ICC T20 World Cup in 2007, in which Yuvraj Singh made a world record. (Representational Image). Pixabay

2009 ICC T20 World Cup (Winner-Pakistan)

The second edition of the T20 world cup was hosted in England, neither India nor Australia made any great impression as both of them failed to make it to semi-finals. Pakistan qualifying for the second time in the finals defeated Sri Lanka in the last match by 8 wickets and 8 balls to spare. Tillakaratne Dilshan was titled as a player of the tournament with 317 runs.

2010 ICC T20 World Cup (Winner- England)

West Indies hosted the Third Edition of the T20 world cup and it was England who claimed the title of winning T20 world cup 2010 by defeating one of the best cricket teams-Australia and Kevin Pietersen was the title as the player of the tournament. It was indeed a nail-biting match, with both the teams showcasing their best to win the trophy.

For the second consecutive time, the Indian team failed by losing all their matches in the Super 8 stage. This tournament was an enormous disappointment for the Indians.

One of the major highlights of the 2010 tournament was Ireland and Afghanistan joining and competing in the T20 world cup.

2012 ICC T20 World Cup (Winner – West Indies)

The fourth edition of the T20 World Cup was hosted in Sri Lanka and it was the first time that the tournament was played in Asia. The West Indies team defeated Sri Lanka by 36 runs and claimed the title for the first time, and also first time since the great Clive Llyod’s team in 1970’s and 1980’s.

“Ajantha Mendis” made it a memorable tournament by breaking the record for most wickets in a World T20 tournament with 15, including an incredible 6-8 against Zimbabwe.

 ICC T20 World Cup 2014
One of the major highlights of ICC T20 World Cup 2014 was the stellar performance of Sangakkara who scored 52 not out. (Representational Image). Pixabay

2014 ICC T20 World Cup (Winner – Srilanka)

The fifth edition of the T20 World Cup was hosted in Bangladesh, it saw an immense change in the format as it introduced the “first-ever” 16 teams including all ten full members and six associate members who had to qualify. Nepal, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates entered this tournament. Sri Lanka defeated India in the last match to claim the title after the first time.

One of the major highlights of the tournament was the stellar performance of Sangakkara who scored 52 not out as Sri Lanka chased down 131 inside 18 overs.

Read More: Here’s How You Can Tackle Obesity And Stay Healthy During Lockdown

2016 ICC World T20 (Winner – West indies)

The six edition of the T20 World Cup was hosted by India (the first champions of T20 world Cup) entailing all the 16 members for the second time. It was a magical moment for west indies as they fought their way back with England, thus becoming the first country to win the title for the second time.

During the match it looked like England would win as west indies required 19 runs to win, Carlos Brathwaite was the one who came for the rescue and hit Ben Stokes for four consecutive sixes, thus leading west indies to make history twice.

2020 ICC T20 World Cup Australia

Australia will host the 7th edition of the T20 World Cup and it will be the first time in the history of the T20 championship that the country will host cricket’s shortest format world cup.

[Disclaimer: The article published above promotes links of commercial interests.]

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How The COVID-19 Pandemic Will Affect Cricket

One never imagined life without following a live sporting event and for Indians, "Cricket"

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cricket covid
One factor for sure is that life and cricket post COVID-19 will never be the same again. Pixabay

BY YAJURVINDRA SINGH

The lockdown due to the coronavirus has had a major effect on the sports lovers across the world. One never imagined life without following a live sporting event and for Indians, “Cricket”.

The month of April had become synonymous with the most popular league in cricket, the Indian Premier League (IPL). Apart from cricketers, the IPL had a phenomenal following all over the cricketing world. It was the centre stage of entertainment in most Indian homes when the live action on the field overcame the scripted production of the tinsel world.

The 13th edition of the IPL, one still feels, will get a window by the end of this year as the stakes involved for all concerned are too high for it to be shelved without a ball being bowled.

cricket covid
One such topic that is being discussed extensively is the use of saliva and sweat on the cricket ball. Pixabay

The uncertainty of the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic and the unavailability of the vaccine has made prediction impossible as to when cricket may see the light of day. The famous phrase of the entertainment world comes to ones’ mind, “the show must go on”.

One does realise the precarious situation that one is facing presently and with a complete lockdown of interaction between individuals, travel and transport the start of any cricket looks a far off probability.

The after effects of the virus, when things are back to normal, if and when it happens, does ignite some interesting thoughts.

One such topic that is being discussed extensively is the use of saliva and sweat on the cricket ball.

The saliva was one area as a sportsman that I personally detested. There were times, fielding close to the wicket, when I had to talk to the batsman to stop spitting and polluting the ground, where I was fielding. One did witness players freely spitting while playing football but the elite game of cricket had a different aura and class to it.

Presently, one is disgusted to see so many cricketers spewing their saliva at any given moment. One hopes that the laws of spitting and the fines for doing so are seriously implemented henceforth.

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The other popular area of using saliva is by applying it on the cricket ball to keep one side of it shining. This, one is given to understand, helps bowlers to reverse swing as well as to swing the ball the conventional way. Unfortunately, one forgets that to master this skill one requires immense practice and many hours of hard-work.

In India, and many other countries, sweat is used more frequently than saliva to shine the ball. The saliva only plays a part when players need to mix it with some juicy ingredients from the mouth. A hair full of oil, lip balm and vaseline was enough to shine the ball when mixed with sweat. Oily hair is still very much a part and parcel of the game and has somehow escaped the regulators.

In the future, one will need to ensure safety and the only way this would be possible would be through the use of hand sanitisers. The umpire will need to monitor this and so rather than allowing any other material, the sanitiser usage on the ball after every over could be a good way to keep one sanitised and safe. This will also take care of the major issue that a bowler may face and that is to keep one side of the ball suitably polished.

During one of our Ranji Trophy matches many moons ago, one of our fielders had a handkerchief covering his nose and mouth. His explanation was that he was allergic to dust. We all had a hearty laugh, especially, as we were in the dusty bowl of India. Lo and behold, he was quickly branded as a “Bandit”.

We now take our thoughts to the possible scenario once cricket resumes, when every player and umpire look like bandits with a face mask (another money making brand endorsement opportunity). We did get a glimpse of cricket stars in various shades, shapes and styles of face masks that could become fashionable in a short film being shown on the prevention of the COVID-19 virus. A muffed appeal will be quite a hilarious sight. The hugging and high fives, unfortunately for the cricketers, will be a thing of the past.

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Cricket viewership in India at the stadium would only be affected during the limited overs international matches. Pixabay

As regards the batsman, he/she will have one extra accessory and that could be a high end face mask with a facility to hear or shout out a call through the helmet. The area where all the fielders will be happy about would be the gloves. This will make catching far simpler and one that will also protect an area one is always careful about and that is the fingers.

Cricket viewership in India at the stadium would only be affected during the limited overs international matches. The Indian domestic matches are barely viewed by spectators and even the domestic limited overs games are played with sparsely filled stands.

Also Read- Life After Lockdown- A New World

The Test matches also do not have an unmanageable crowd and apart from the limited overs internationals, cricket on the ground will not have a major impact where spectator viewing is concerned.

One factor for sure is that life and cricket post COVID-19 will never be the same again. But, cricket in any form is much better than none at all. One does miss watching the beautiful game called cricket, even though one may see 22 colourful branded face masked bandits on the field.

(Yajurvindra Singh is a former Test cricketer. Views expressed are personal) (IANS)

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Yzerman Working Overtime to Improve the Red Wings

The Red Wings have collected just 39 points this term, a tally that represents the third-worst points percentage in the history of the franchise

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Red wings is one of the ice hockey teams. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Detroit Red Wings have had a tough time of things in the NHL during recent years and the situation doesn’t look it will get much easier over the next couple of seasons.

Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman was honest enough to admit as much when he replaced long-serving general manager Ken Holland nearly a year ago.

Detroit’s famed run of reaching the play-offs 30 times between 1983 and 2016 seem a distant memory at the moment and this season’s efforts have been utterly woeful.

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The Red Wings have collected just 39 points this term, a tally that represents the third-worst points percentage in the history of the franchise.

red wings ice hockey
Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman was honest enough to admit as much when he replaced long-serving general manager Ken Holland nearly a year ago. Wikimedia Commons

For fans more familiar with deep play-off runs and Stanley Cup victories, these are desperate times to be a Detroit supporter.

Yzerman has worked hard to address the situation, but he still has plenty of work to do in order to restore the Red Wings back to the top of the tree. Read on as we look at the latest state-of-play.

The coaching conundrum

The Red Wings were already slumping when Jeff Blashill took over from Mike Babcock as head coach, but he has failed to arrest the slide. 

During their glory years Detroit were regularly towards the head of the 888sport betting to win the Stanley Cup, but that has been far from the case under Blashill.

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Yzerman has resisted the temptation to hang Blashill out to dry publicly, but he is fully expected to make a coaching change this summer.

His former teammates Lane Lambert and Gerard Gallant have both been linked with a move to the Motor City and it would be no surprise to see one of them replace Blashill over the coming months.

Bernier buying the Red Wings time

Jimmy Howard’s decline in form gave the Red Wings a major issue in the netminding department, but Jonathan Bernier’s performances have bought Yzerman some valuable time.

After starting the season as a largely unconsidered back-up, Bernier went on to establish himself as the starting goalie as he recorded a .907 save percentage for the season.

The 31-year-old achieved this despite playing behind the worst defensive unit in the league and he deserves the opportunity to backstop the team from the start next term.

With Howard entering unrestricted free agency this summer the Red Wings will need to find a new back-up, but Bernier’s efforts have given them valuable breathing space.

Seider ready to step up

The Red Wings’ defence has failed to gel, leaving fans wondering where the next Niklas Lindstrom or Chris Chelios is going to come from.

red wings ice hockey
Yzerman has worked hard to address the situation, but he still has plenty of work to do in order to restore the Red Wings back to the top of the tree. Read on as we look at the latest state-of-play. Wikimedia Commons

They may discover the answer to that question next season, with German international ‘D’ man Moritz Seider expected to make the step up from the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.

At 6-foot-4 and over 200 pounds Seider is undoubtedly a big unit, but there is plenty more to his game than just size.

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The 19-year-old should see plenty of ice time next season and that will only serve to aid his development as the strives to establish himself in the NHL.

The ‘franchise’ line

Forwards Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha have given Red Wings fans hope that the franchise can climb the standings once again.

Injuries to Mantha disrupted the line during the 2019/20 campaign, but the trio showed plenty of positive chemistry on the occasions they played together.

Also Read- Social Distancing and Lockdown are The Strongest Vaccine: Health Minister Harsh Vardhan

There is a really nice balance between the players, with each of them bringing a wide range of attributes to the table.

If they can all stay healthy next season the Red Wings will have at least one forward line that should cause major damage in the NHL.