By Rudham Gammampila
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Indian Premier League: Just a Spectacle?
While in India for the past week or so I found that many of the people I met spoke of a disenchantment with the fourth installment of the DLF IPL (Indian Premier League), and I found myself wondering whether this was the common consensus around India, or just the view of the minority. After watching a few of the games on TV it was clear that some people, at least, are still interested in the game as the stadiums were normally full to capacity with thousands of devoted fans. The same, however, cannot be said about the TV audiences in India, as well as around the world.
One of the main reasons for this is that an important aspect of the IPL has changed from previous seasons with two new teams introduced; Pune and Kochi. With these two new teams comes a whole new format where local heroes do not play for their local team. For example, Yuvraj Singh, who used to play for his local team, Kings XI Punjab, now plays for Pune Warriors. This change has not gone down well with certain sections of the Indian public, who have become disinterested because they can no longer see their local heroes play for their respective states. The situation is aggravated internationally as the games are not widely telecast outside of India. Frustrated folk in cricketing countries such as Australia (where there is a sizeable sub-continent community) who wish only to see their favourite cricketers do battle on the Indian stage are left to resort to YouTube if they can’t afford to pay up for Indian
With A. B. de Villiers (left) and Johan Van der Wath
cable. This lack of coverage is partly due to the ITV network winning the rights to broadcast the game over the much broader reaching BBC- a reduction which has resulted in less fans worldwide. I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time in Bangalore, and had the unique opportunity to talk to some of the players.
Although I am not able to quote directly, the general understanding around the playing group is that the IPL is still a huge sporting event in India. And judging from the number of people who came up for their autographs, I would have to agree. Another topic that was brought up was how the IPL has broken down the barriers of international cricket. This was reiterated by Shane Warne during one of the games on TV as he finds it hard to sledge players now. This new found friendship on the field has resulted in less spice between competing players and therefore a reduced interest off the field. Although this year’s IPL may not have lived up to previous editions, it is clear to see that when you have the best cricketers in the world in one competition you are bound to see something special more often than not.
Nowadays cricket has become a business rather than the “gentlemen’s game” it was conceived to be many years ago. So, love it or hate it, the IPL, and in a broader sense twenty-twenty cricket is here to stay as there are millions if not billions of dollars to be made.