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The IPL And Its Lure

By Sam Sooppersaud
April 16th, 2010
For the past month now I have been sitting on my living room couch watching and enjoying the Cricket Carnival - The IPL Tournament - being played at the present in various cities all across India. The cricket loving world is wow..ing and wah..ing at some of the most exciting and cavalier style batting ever seen on a cricket field, and by some of the world's most destructive batsmen.

During the 2007 World Cup played in the West Indies renowned cricket commentator Tony Cozier described a combination paddle/scoop/ pull shot to the leg side as The Astraful. This shot was executed repeatedly and productively by Bangladeshi batsman Mohammed Ashraful, hence Cozier stamped his name to the shot. During the current IPL edition that shot has been renamed The Dil Scoop, so named because it has been refined and reinvented by Sri Lankan batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan. There are so many variations of the so-called orthodox cricket shots that spectators at the IPL games expect to see something different each time the bat strikes the ball.

The Indian cricket crazy nation is in frenzy. The stadia are packed to the rafters with screaming fans. They bring along with them numerous noise-making equipments and instruments: drums, saxophone, flutes, timbrels. You name it; it is there at the cricket grounds making its own brand of sounds and noises. I would venture to say that all other activities, in India have figuratively, if not literally, come to a standstill, with the entire citizenry dazed by the IPL phenomenon. A week ago I had to call my internet support service. The phone was answered by a customer service rep, Sunita, in India. I mentioned to her that I was watching the IPL. She told me it seems like "everyone in India" has been bitten by the IPL bug. This Twenty/20 format of the game has "taken the cricketing world by storm". Not even the innovators of this format may have envisioned this form of cricket to reach such a crescendo.

Apart from the cricket, there are numerous other activities that make the IPL the "King of Sports' at this time. Let's take a look of how the IPL has energized various aspects of our lives. Firstly, it is satisfying the appetites of fans in a cricket crazy nation. Our lust for exciting cricket is being fed. In time past we sat for four to five days watching test cricket, many a times without a result in the game. We watched the ODI's - the 50 over version of the game. This is indeed a respite from the boring test matches. But the Twenty/20; it is the epidomy of a cricket lover's dream.

One of the main ideas behind the formation of the IPL was it will bring together in a single arena some of the greatest cricket players in the world, past, present, and future stars. What a treat it is to have the opportunity to once again see a Warne, a Hayden, a Shane Bond, an Andrew Symonds, and a Ganguly in action on the cricket field, competing with and against the Tendulkars, the Dravids, the Pietersens, and the Collingwoods. Coupled with this, the IPL gives the world a preview of the future stars, the Pandays, the Mishras, the Gonis, and the Dindas. From what we have seen so far of the youngsters, we can rest assured that India would not experience a shortage of stars in the future. These youngsters are exposed to playing in front of stadia packed with 40,000 to 50,000 screaming cricket fanatics. They have the added benefit of playing alongside proven superstars, learning more and sharpening their skills.

With the coming together of players and personnel from numerous countries, England, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Pakistan, India, et al. the IPL presents a unique opportunity for a multi cultural world to interact and to share and enjoy diverse cultures, traditions and customs. The players can all become "ambassadors of good will" The animosity, the less than friendly attitudes, fed by national competitiveness, could be smoothed out, seeing that multi-national players are now make up a team. This helps to propagate a bond of friendship among people of different countries.

Spectators from all over the cricketing world have converged on India and are being treated to feasts of hair-raising cricket. Thousands of these visitors may have scheduled their vacations to coincide with the staging of the IPL Tournament. No doubt large numbers have flown thousands of miles to come to the games in India. This can only do well for the economy of the airline industry which is experiencing a grave financial drain.

The IPL is also helping some small businesses in the New York area. For instance, in the Liberty Avenue, Queens’s area, there are numerous "cricket cafes", bars that offer their patrons live cricket games. These bars are nearly always packed with patrons watching the IPL action while enjoying their favorite beer, scotch, or other stimulating iced-cold beverages of choice. During the break in the action patrons get their meals at neighborhood food establishments. On non cricket days, these bars and restaurants are bereft of customers. More cash in the coffers of these small businesses.

It is evident that large contingents of people are employed at the stadia, as grounds men, caretakers, concessioneers, etc. I would also believe that the taxi and bus services are also enjoying added revenues with thousands of cricket fans travelling to the games. Parking garages, gas stations, hotels; they get their share of business, also.

Talking about finances... the players themselves are enjoying large paychecks. Unlike other international sports, cricket does not have "money to throw" at players. Professional cricketers do not have a comparable pay scale with players in other sports. The IPL has thrown hundreds of thousands of dollars in acquiring superstars. The younger players also enjoy a "salary" (I will address this in a follow-up article).

Yes, folks, the IPL is the talk of the cricketing world at this time. It is being said that Twenty/20 Cricket is the future of the sports. The future of test cricket looks bleak at this time. The ICC is already having a look at what can be done to spice up the One Day Internationals. It is safe to say that for cricket to survive, in all the formats, players must sharpen their skills and to be able to adapt to the different formats. This is the only way they can keep the interest of the cricket loving public.

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