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On MODIfying, Developing and Changing INDIA

There was a country, a country of spirited and adept men, finding itself in the path of recovery from the heavy blows of imperialistic pas...

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The gala event is over..The  fuss,the fading glitters,the never ending hypes,the manic following,the relentless coverage on TV and the very meager cricket amidst all these that has been played over the past two months is over.But the controversies have not,they are yet to cease.Instead of disappearing they are looming into life out of proportion. The controversies, started even before the schedule and venues were decided for IPL-4 when the charges against Lalit Modi shook the very foundation of the league and then it peaked into an interesting episode in the form of the threats and show-cause notices to terminate two franchises(Kings Eleven and Royals) and finally ending with an only attention worthy "Club Vs Country" controversy(Courtesy Gautham Ghambir whose case blew it).

Thousands of articles have been written,hundreds of experts have dissected the mechanics and analyzed , many trending debates have been seen over the net and in forums about the IPL,the riches it gifts people involved,the exposure to small time cricketers,the opportunity for local boys to learn and adopt other cricketing cultures followed by international players,the amount of revenue it generates etc.But sadly none have pointed out or cared about one very important thing,"What it does to the game of cricket".And this article is an attempt to record my thoughts on that.More precisely my analysis is going to be on the lines of  "What IPL does to Indian Cricket?".

Perhaps the answer to the first question may be very easy.What IPL does to the game of cricket is...Well,simply nothing.There is a notion that,Test cricket is the ultimate testing ground for a cricketer and that the test cricket is for men and ODI cricket is for boys.The real value,talent and skill of a player is brought to the fore mostly in test matches.But later when T-20,ODI cricket's cousin sister, was given birth ODI cricket looked more sane and sensible.It was readily accepted that T-20's are virtual harassment of cricket and all it takes to play T-20's is a good pair of eyes and a strong arm to swing the bat blindly at anything hurled at you.You do not really require any real skills and there is no such thing called class,elegance in that form.I would say,It is a mere circus,a glittering crowd pulling spectacle acted by the untamed, aggressive, adrenaline pumped big-hit hunger cricketers..

If T-20 is a circus then what about IPL?..Can I find a fitting analogy?.Difficult but yet let me try that... Take cricket.Abuse it to the core,curse it badly,rape it,stab it crazily,poison it,hang it and then shoot it with a machine gun.After that make it stand before a canon and shoot it and then launch a missile on it.Finally whatever remains of cricket can be called as IPL Cricket.This might look a bit too harsh but  people who considers cricket as an elegant,graceful sport something like an art form will find sense in the above.The excerpt from an article,"In Sachin's country" by Wright Thompson, an American author, can attest what I say about the artistry.

We sit in the lower bleachers, the entire circle of green in front of us. An Australian player muscles a ball toward the boundary.  Some Aussie hits are seen as gauche. Kumar clucks disapprovingly. I ask why?. Old-school cricket fans don't like it when players cross the bat. It's vulgar. The ball should be hit in the direction from which it's pitched.
"You are to play gracefully," Kumar says, "and give respect to the ball."
Have you ever heard that something "isn't cricket"? That's where the phrase comes from. To cross the bat isn't cricket. Sehwag crosses the bat. Constantly. He wants bombs. Fours and sixes. Sehwag revels in his vulgarity. Tendulkar, although a big hitter, plays with an old school respect. Kumar loves Sachin.
"Grace has a place," Kumar says.

It also seemed to have been understood by the fact that most of the players gets applause but not recognition when they succeed in IPL cricket.So that is that,T-20 is vulgar and IPL is nothing more than an act of vulgarizing the vulgarity.Let us come to the next part of What IPL does to Indian criket...
 A competition where Talent meets opportunity
These are the exact words engraved in Sanskrit on the new IPL-4 trophy.The lines are fancy,they are good but I am clueless on what they refer to talent and opportunity here.In Indian cricket talent and opportunity are the words that doesn't/couldn't sit together in a single sentence.When Chris Gayles, Pollards,Malingas,Gilchrists,Sachins and Dhonis dominate the scene in IPL how can one talk about talents(I mean new) meeting opportunity.

Emphasizing only on the counteraction to the Zee Entertainment owned Rebel ICL league, the BCCI has pathetically failed to focus on and care about one-most-important aspect ,that is the purpose of the Indian Premier League when forming it.The conceptualization doesn't seem insightful and thoughtful,on the contrary it looks like the entire idea has been imitated from English Premier League.The auction and franchise model makes it more evident.You can have foreign players play in IPL but I don't think the total lack of local flavor and sluggishness in promoting local players is a good idea.I mean I am from Chennai and I wouldn't feel connected to CSK when only two or three player from Tamil Nadu plays in the team.It makes the spectator think that it is just a competition of franchises and there is no point in supporting a team based on locality.They say that there is a drop in TV viewership for IPL this year.Why wouldn't it be?.Given the above reasons and a really tiresome activity of seeing a tournament for two long months comprising 70 odd matches will be boring when the world-cup itself is a short and slick 40 day affair .Does IPL has lot of spice than a world-cup to sustain for 2 months that too every year?.I don't think so.

In another perspective  what is the point of spending billions on something that doesn't help in building raw local talents.One may argue that it provides financial gains to the extent that a player can earn a money of two long years of  playing Ranji trophy in just one IPL season.But is it about money?.I would also like to mention Sanjay manjrekar's article Thank God for IPL on those lines.I guess the idea is like selling your kidney to pay for the charge of dialysis.Too stupid.In a way ICL was good in unearthing talents and brought some youngsters to the fore like R.Sathish,Ali Murtaza,Ambati Rayudu and few others whereas except Pragyan Ojha,Ravindr Jadeja(if he can be called one) I don't think IPL was really successful in finding new talents.It just made few cases of very established domestic players like Badri,Ashwin for the selection to the national team strong.(That in my opinion was bad where one good season of IPL does what 27 convincing Ranji 100s can not do..Is IPL so damn high grade?.. )..May be they can engrave in the trophy as "A competition where the talents warm the bench" as I see youngsters (like Abhinav Mukund,Pujara) are warming benches as substitutes.

If local unexposed talents in IPL suffers this kind of challenges then the established lot faces a different problem.Already the players of the national side are stuffed with too much cricket all year round and making them play IPL only adds to the burden.One may say that they can opt out and take rest but given the amount of money they have been bought for their franchise would not allow it and they should be in the fray to see through the race to national side and make some quick money(not everyone endorses 50 brands at a time earning millions by advertisements).This just leads to a dilemma of Club Vs country. Even though the players commitment to cricket can not be questioned it's creepy that IPL is given importance by a player.For instance Virender sehwag, Zaheer khan,Gautham Ghambir,Sachin have been frequented by injuries where they missed part of SA Test/ODI series before world cup,if that is the case why should they play IPL. Especially someone like Zaheer who is very critical in test victories of late.This approach doesn't look like a good sign to Indian cricket.

Finally after all that only one party is found to be guilty i.e BCCI. Their allegation on Ghambir was funniest of all as BCCI is the governing council of both Indian cricket and IPL. Their poor management and outright money mindedness has resulted in all this fuss.God save Indian cricket.Corruption has penetrated deep into the roots of every system and this cricketing administration is no exception.The best part is India is the financial super power of cricket and still the infrastructure is too poor.If you compare an Australian or South African cricket ground to Indian grounds you will know the difference.A slight drizzle will expose the kind of ground maintenance in the country.With all the money they generate they can improve the standards of grounds, build a strong domestic structure etc  but sadly nothing of that has been done.In short the administration is at its worst best.

Not only that,the act of asking ICC a separate window for IPL is too much.Since you have money it doesn't mean that you can control anyone.From my point of view the ICC should not budge as IPL is not an international event.These atrocities are to the extent that they shifted the IPL when the Indian govt asked them to postpone the event citing public election in 2009.What Mr.Modi did was,he gave a heroic punchline that IPL will never stop and shifted it to South Africa.I don't know who gives that much power to him to deny a government proposal and go against it and importantly how it was tolerated.I am tempted to say that government should take over BCCI as the Indian team is a representation of the country and not a private organization.But when you think of Suresh Kalmadis and the likes you tend to scare even to think about that.

Finally the IPL governing body should take a leaf out of EPL. Once in 2008 the state of the sport was such in England that not even the likes of Beckhams and Wayne Rooneys could help England qualify for the Euro championships in 2008. Neither have England Won or went close to wining the FIFA world cup in the past decade or so.If EPL is one such high grade tournament then picking one very best player from each EPL team would have made a dream team for England which can never loose.But the scenario was totally opposite. EPL has been only successful in bathing the players with dollars,hell lot of it,to the extent that successful Footballer in England is stereotyped to ride a Flashy Ferrari with a babe on his side who leads a very luxuries life as if football was a source of income than a honor and pride. IPL in a sense has a very good chance of going in EPL way if people at helm do not wake up.

When you think of all this you learn one thing.Money is a demon and when people starts going behind that it spoils every fiber of morals and every ethics especially it is very dangerous for an art form or sport. Commercialism is the biggest enemy to grace,class and art. In this context BCCI's act of IPL is synonymous to a snake trying to eat its tail,an act of self-destruction.In short IPL has been nothing more than a place where big shots launders their black money,an event where horses are overlooked for donkeys,a form of cricket where commercialism rules than the real game spirit.If there is anything that can be done I would suggest in compacting the event and make it play for every two years or something where players would not have to switch allegiances between the club and country. A stat from federation of International players says that 40 % of players said that they would skip national duty for IPL.Wake up call for the cricketing fraternity if they don't want make cricket sleep forever...

Bottomline:You can say IPL is something that "isn't cricket" in Wright Thompson's words...


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