Monday April 22, 2019
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Has the IPL taken away more than it has given?

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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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It Should Be The Responsibility of The BCCI To Unearth Cricketing Talent

Unfortunately, the player, in order to please the authorised individuals, becomes a "yes man" to all concerned. After all, "money does make the world go round."

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The Indian team under the flamboyant Virat Kohli has been an enlightened side, looking to make a mark in the history of the game. India, one of favourites to win the upcoming World Cup in England and Wales, have all the ingredients to emerge as the worthy winners. Wikimedia Commons

In cricket, more than in any other team sport, the captain plays a significant role. The onus of all the field placements, bowling changes and behaviour of the players solely rest on his/her shoulder.

The shorter the format, the more difficult it is for the captain to make plans, ascertain his thoughts and execute them. The field restriction rules amplify his problems further, and one can see a helpless leader in the T20 format hoping for divine blessings at most times.

The Indian team under the flamboyant Virat Kohli has been an enlightened side, looking to make a mark in the history of the game. India, one of favourites to win the upcoming World Cup in England and Wales, have all the ingredients to emerge as the worthy winners.

They have a strong and well-established batting and bowling line-up along with a very good fielding unit. Everything seems perfect.

However, the performance of Kohli after the series of recent losses in the shorter format against New Zealand, Australia and now in the Indian Premier League (IPL) has sparked concern amongst the millions of Indian cricket followers.

Fortunately for Kohli, he has the backing of the brilliant cricketing mind of Mahendra Singh Dhoni when playing for India. But in a crunch situation and on a world platform like the World Cup, Kohli will have to stand on his own two feet.

The two World Cup winning Indian captains — Kapil Dev and Dhoni — are both strong personalities who led through their natural cricketing instincts.

Although lots have been written on leadership and how it is important to strategise towards a goal, in cricket, however, one’s basic instinct is more important than in any other field.

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They have a strong and well-established batting and bowling line-up along with a very good fielding unit. Everything seems perfect. Pixabay

I remember making fielding and bowling changes as a captain based on my natural gut instincts, which often proved successful. I was reprimanded when they failed, but I could bear with that failure rather than the other way around.

Kohli has shown that he is a decisive leader when he leads the Indian side in Test matches. After all, India are the number one side in the world. But he seems to struggle when it comes to the shorter formats. He needs to control every aspect of the game for his franchisee Royal Challengers Bangalore and use the experience of a Gary Kirsten only as a sounding board.

Dhoni is the only captain in the IPL who’s in control at the moment. Maybe his long standing equation with coach Stephen Fleming has compartmentalised his responsibilities well.

The IPL franchise owners must realise that they are not in the same league with football and rugby in Britain or basketball and baseball in the United States. The IPL is a commercially viable tournament of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that has a two-month calendar each year and nothing more.

During the inception of the tournament, one of the criteria was to encourage cricket and develop cricket academies and centres of excellence. But domestic cricket in India already had an existing structure for it.

This, therefore, makes it unviable for the private establishments, which are direct threats to the cricket associations which are present here. The IPL team owners have gone totally awry in the recruitment of support staff and other personnel who are part and parcel of the franchises.

Each IPL team has former cricket legends as mentors, well-known international coaches, batting, fielding and bowling experts with assistants and many more helpers who accompany all of them.

Majority of them are with the teams during the initial months before the tournament and then during the event. But the senior and established players take the centre stage only a few days before the start of the IPL, as the cramped international calendar makes it impossible for them to be released. Even the Indian domestic cricketers remain busy, as with three different formats of the game, cricket has almost become a 365-day affair.

I can well imagine the confusion in the minds of a captain and a player in many of the IPL teams. The other day, while watching the IPL, I imagined myself in the position of Shreyas Iyer, the captain of Delhi Capitals.

The young captain has Ricky Ponting, Sourav Ganguly, Mohammad Kaif and Pravin Amre as advisors. All of them have been successful, not just on the field but also off it. Ganguly and Ponting were acclaimed as the best captains during their playing days.

And hailing from Mumbai, Iyer must have interacted a lot with Amre. So one can well imagine Iyer and his teammates’ dilemma as to whom to listen to. I am sure the other players in the IPL are also facing the same problem.

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Each IPL team has former cricket legends as mentors, well-known international coaches, batting, fielding and bowling experts with assistants and many more helpers who accompany all of them. 
Pixabay

This kind of support staff is ideal if one has a full year programme or if its for a national side. But it is a futile exercise, as well as expenditure, for a two-month tournament which has no permanency for a junior or a senior player.

Unfortunately, the player, in order to please the authorised individuals, becomes a “yes man” to all concerned. After all, “money does make the world go round.”

Also Read: Live Football And Game Schedule on The Fscore Site

Although the IPL is great for Indian cricket, especially for the young talent to get recognised, a more compact staffing and performance-based leadership of a captain and a coach is the best way forward.

Presently, the IPL teams are functioning like the popular saying “too many cooks spoil the broth”. The franchises are not the messiahs of Indian cricket and it should be the responsibility of the BCCI to unearth cricketing talent, not theirs. (IANS)