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Ipl 2014
IPL: A bane for cricket
IPL success is perhaps what is bad for cricket. It follows the T20 format of the game. The game finishes in a matter of three hours, which is good for the viewers, sponsors and cricketers, but cricket as a game is loosing its essence in the process.
ABOUT A month back, all the founders and franchisees of the Indian Premier League (IPL) were apprehensive about how the Indians would react to this tournament. Whether they were ready to follow city specific teams? Would the crowds in Kolkata go silent when Dravid would hit a boundary and rejoice when he would get out? Would the Indians be able to tolerate this 45-day long ’cricketainment’? How would the pundits react? If these were all the questions that the IPL had posed, then the organisers can be proud of the fact that with all the highs and lows, the IPL has been a big success.

In fact, Charu Sharma, the former CEO of the Royal Challengers, Bangalore team, in an interview to NDTV, had said that the primary reason for flying in the cheerleaders was that the franchisee owners were not sure of the success of the IPL and the cheerleaders would be an added source of entertainment.

If the motive of the IPL was to take over the prime time slot away from the saasbahu sagas, then it has been able to do it successfully. In fact, Dhoni, Sehwag, Afridi, Warne have all become household names now. The success of the IPL is perhaps what is bad for cricket.

The T20 format of the game is pleasing to the eye; it has got all the masala of a Bollywood blockbuster. There would be twists and turns in the game, and all of it would be over in just three hours. But from the cricketing aspect, T20 hasn’t been successful. It’s been great for the viewers, the franchisees and even for the cricketers who have taken home millions of dollars, but cricket has lost out in the process.

All the captains go up to their bowlers and tell them to bowl it in the block hole. Perhaps the only delivery, which is difficult to hit, is the ’Yorker’. So, all captains want their bowlers to be bowling it. The game has turned mechanical a lot. If you want only ’Yorkers’ to be bowled, why do you need a bowler? You might as well have a bowling machine aiming at the block hole and bowling it there. We have world-class spinners of the likes of Warne, Kumble and Muralitharan, but all of them refrain from giving the ball flight in fear of being hit for a six. You have spinners bowling it flat, fast bowlers bowling it in the block hole, the real contest between the bat and the ball seems to have long gone. It’s only about not allowing the batsmen to hit a six.

The success of the IPL has posed another major problem for cricket. We all know that it is money that runs this sport. After the success of IPL with thousands of people streaming in to the stadiums to catch the game, will test matches face the same response? Now that the people will get addicted to this format of the game, their interest in test matches and ’One Dayers’ will wane and so will the Television Rating Points (TRP’s) and the amount of moolah being put in to the game. Will test matches go extinct in a few years’ time? Will we never get to see Ishant Sharma bowling eight overs at Ricky Ponting or Dravid or Chanderpaul batting till the last ball to save a test match. Cricket is about to change and in front of our very own eyes.

Some people would say that you give the people what they want. And if T20 is a hit with the audience, then why not? But the problem arises that when T20 was started, it was decided that it would not change the number of Test and One Day matches being played. But unless you want a player to burn out, it is sure to happen. Raju Srivastava, the famous comedian, had said, “What is the need for reducing the matches to 20 overs? You would rather have the teams coming to the field and just deciding the winner on the basis of the toss of the coin. You would still have the sponsors, what more do you need?”

As a viewer, I enjoy T20. But I am apprehensive about this being the future of cricket. Is cricket all about wham bham hitting. What about the delicate flicks through mid wicket, or the caressing of the ball through the off side? If the batsman drives a full toss through the covers for a four, he will have the captain asking him as to why he didn’t hit it over mid wicket for a six. The demands of the viewers and the captains are increasing. 240 was a good score in the One Day Internationals (ODIs); we had the Chennai Super Kings scoring that in 20 overs in their very first game of the IPL.

If the test matches and the ODIs are regarded as the primary meal, then you could call T20 the pickle. Just to add spice to it. But if the pickle takes over the actual meal, then it is sure to have adverse effects on your health. Let’s just hope in the success of the IPL, cricket doesn’t lose out.

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