IPL thoughts

I’ve heard a lot of talk lately about the IPL. This is pretty remarkable, really, because I’ve put in every reasonable filter on Twitter and other places that I could in an effort to avoid it. It’s probably fair to assume that there has been much more talk than I have actually heard, which means there has been a lot of talk about the IPL. I wasn’t going to talk about it. I was going to quietly ignore it and let those who liked it get on with it. Except I forgot that the raison d’être of the IPL is for people to spread the holy gospel and it’s accompanying advertisements to all corners of the earth. I can’t ignore it without blocking most of Twitter and Facebook and never, ever going to Cricinfo and I need those sites for other things. So instead I am going to add my rather small voice to the cacophony of those talking about the IPL and I am going to say why I hate it.

The first reason is what I alluded to above: it’s omnipresence. I’m pretty sure the goings on of the English FPT20 are not written in detail in Australian papers. I could be wrong, but I also don’t think everyone in India is watching with keen anticipation on Finals Day. And yet the IPL is assumed to have worldwide appeal. Why? It cannot be simply because there are international players, every domestic T20 league in the world has those. Lancashire have Junaid Khan again, will this ensure that Pakistan unites behind us as we go through the usual month of only T20? I am inclined to doubt it. The only thing different about the IPL is that its international players are paid obscene amounts of money. This is not the sort of thing that ought to be embraced or encouraged, but the IPL was designed for hype and it has done well enough that it is considered reasonable to broadcast it outside India. More than once have people assumed that since I watched cricket I must watch the IPL. This has never happened with the Sheffield Shield, SuperSport Series, Plunket Shield or even Ranji Trophy. (For the record, I don’t watch a lot of first-class cricket outside England, but I try to at least keep an eye on the leagues. I thus don’t have any strong affiliations to teams, but I tend to support South Australia, Cape Cobras, Otago Volts and Assam.) The fact that it is assumed that I care about an Indian T20 tournament simply because it has an effective publicity machine is grating.

The second reason is the marketing. It’s entire marketing style assumes that I have the attention span of a slightly slow gnat and will get bored if more than five minutes elapse without and explosion or a shot of a dancing girl. It assumes that I cannot know when something is exciting if Ravi Shastri is not there to shout a bit. This is either spectacularly insulting or an admission that the actual sport is lacking. I suspect both are true to an extent and neither are pleasant explanations. I could, on this blog, change font style and colour every sentence. I could put animated fireworks between every paragraph in an effort to make it more appealing. But that would be putting style in front of substance and anyone reading would be able to see through such superficialities. The IPL does not seem to agree with that approach though. They cover up their many shortcomings with glitz and insultingly assume their viewers will not notice.

A subset of this is that I hate the fact that the entire IPL is nothing but a vehicle for advertisements. I accept the modern need for sponsorship of cricket, but the IPL takes it to another level. It is one thing to add an extra word or two in front of a name like LV= or Investec, it is quite another to put one in front of everything. As with all other aspects of the IPL, it has the subtlety of a man trying to crack a safe by jackhammering through the top.

The theoretical backup to all of the hype is the international players that have been paid/bribed large sums of money to try to lend credibility to the Mickey Mouse tournament. This is the third reason I hate the IPL and where it goes from mere annoyance to actual problem. The IPL’s poaching of some of the best and most prominent players marginalises every other event that happens at the same time. (And that is quite a bit of time, the IPL seems to drag on for ages.) This tends to hit the West Indies the hardest. The IPL always overlaps with their relatively short home season and because of their financial problems we have already seen many of them choose the IPL over their country. It is impossible to know how the first Test between the West Indies and Australia would have gone if the West Indies had been able to field a full strength side. There are other, large, reasons why the West Indies lost that Test, but they only lost in the end by three wickets. Having a full strength side may have been the difference. The IPL also hurts the County Championship for similar reasons and the ECB would be well advised to refuse to allow English players to compete or to demand much greater compensation.

But does the IPL try to avoid conflict with internationals? No, in fact the BCCI suggest that internationals are scheduled around the IPL! Never mind the fact that for the West Indies and, to a lesser extent, England this is not feasible, it is a staggering arrogance. For all their pretensions, the IPL is still a domestic competition. It must schedule itself around Tests or take a backseat to them. This is a league originally run by Lalit Modi, however, so its approach is not surprising. I don’t even particularly mind the T20 format, but the IPL is loud, boorish and arrogant. Why anyone likes it is a mystery to me and hopefully the reports I hear of declining viewership are indicative of the long-term trend. It will probably never happen, but I hold out hope that one day the entire league will fold.

10 thoughts on “IPL thoughts

  1. Hello there, it’s a nice article, though there are many things that are not fully understood. First and foremost, why does NBA have a good following outside US? There is no need for an Australian or a Chinese to know about Kobe Bryant or Lebron James? Why should the world be bothered about the EPL? People in India themselves are often seen arguing with each other supporting Chelsea or Man U. Same happens across the world, who have no connection with England. As for the cricket, the English county cricket is of the lowest of quality and half the matches are ruined by rain or slow scoring rate of some English batsmen.
    As for the IPL, it is different from any other Twenty twenty league in the world, the reason being simple, no other league has this many number of International stars…be it Big Bash League, English county twenty twenty matches, BPL, SL twenty twenty, SA twenty twenty, whatever. Big Bash is the closest rival to IPL, but they too do not have this many stars (IPL has Aussie stars, but BBL doesn’t have Indian ones). IPL is almost like a WC event, with almost entire members of the foreign teams, playing in different franchises. If you watch closely, you will notice almost the entire SA, NZ, WI, Aus, SL, team members involved in the IPL, whereas an English County tournament, has only a handful of international players, who no longer represent their country or still trying to get a spot into the team. IPL has established stars and the level of cricket is of high standards. Watch the highlights of the IPL match between CSK and RCB a couple days back, for example.
    As for the money involved, why does anyone have to oppose it? The players play and they get paid for it. It helps in giving more security to the lives of these stars, which makes them perform with lesser stress financially.
    And nobody asked anyone to quit their international duty and play in the IPL. BCCI is holding a tournament and who is willing to play, can come and play. If foreign stars choose IPL over their own national teams, that’s not the problem of the BCCI. That shows that their own boards are not paying the players enough.
    As for the Bollywood involvement and these extra gimicks surrounding the IPL, which might seem insulting to the purist; those things are not for the purists in the first place, it is to involve people, who haven’t followed cricket thus far, to get involved in cricket. My own father stopped watching cricket, when Gavaskar, Srikanth and Kapil Dev retired and only started following cricket again, while wanting to see Shah Rukh Khan perform in the opening ceremony. Same with the women folks in India. So many girls and older people, who had been away from cricket, got lured towards IPL for its Bollywood side of it and that in turn made them watch the actual cricket match. Now there are more folks understanding the game and following international fixtures.
    The English are just feeling left out and this makes them hate the IPL. These are just excuses to somehow lessen the popularity of IPL, so that they can hide the fact that England is no longer the home of cricket. There are few English stars involved as well, like KP, Morgan, Bopara, Owais Shah, Mascarenas, so on. Many others are left out, because they do not possess an all round quality about them. Shakib UL hassan would on any day be preferred over a Graeme Swann, because he is a better batsman, decent spinner and good fielder. It’s just that the English players are not good in the shorter format, except a few. They might have won a few T20’s in the past year or so and that is an improvement, but England has to go far in the shorter formats.
    IPL is here to stay and it has so many good things about it, to become an tournament with international following. Already it has a great following in SA, NZ, WI and the subcontinental countries. And there are more people from England and Aus beginning to follow the game in the past year. It has everything to be cricket’s ultimate tournament and it will surely lure non cricketing nation public to cricket over the years as well…Embracing it by all the cricketing nations can only make IPL get bigger and bring in more people from non cricketing nations to start following it.


    1. It’s not unusual for sports to have followings outside their native countries, but that is not an analogous situation. One would not assume that every Australian follows the NBA or every American follows the Premier League, for one thing. But more importantly in neither case are those sports widely publicised. It is very, very hard to find mainstream Premier League coverage in America.

      And you clearly have not watched any of the County Championship. Of the seven matches in the first round, only one was a draw and in the second round it looks like most matches there will have results too. Scoring slowly is a /good/ thing, it means they are not throwing their wickets away. Furthermore, the standard of play is much higher in the IPL, the biggest overseas players are very much ones pushing for selection in their home countries. (Perhaps you’ve heard of Vernon Philander, currently playing for Somerset?) Overseas players are in any case not the main measure of a domestic competition in any case and as I said in my post, they can often be detrimental. The IPL DOES ask West Indian players to chose the IPL over their countries by its very timing. They offer massive bribes to do so and smaller nations cannot compete. The only way for the West Indies to be financially viable and properly able to compensate their players is for them to be able to field a full strength side. The IPL ensures that this will not happen in the near future and seems not to care about the fact that it is threatening the very existence of the game in the Caribbean! And when that happens, when the WICB cannot fund the development of players at all, from where will the IPL stars come?

      The Bollywood involvement is not merely insulting to the ‘purist’ but should be to the cricketers and to anyone with a working brain. It is an open insult to all of them.

      You don’t seem to comprehend that I WANT the English players to be left out and I am far, far from alone. The IPL is a poisonous tournament and I want our cricketers kept as far from it as possible. I won’t deny that English players are not as good in the shorter format, but that is not something which bothers me one bit. I want them to focus on real cricket.

      There is nothing about the IPL to support your statements, jut a lot of money and flashing lights being thrown around. It is a powder puff affair, all show and those who actually know the game will never, ever rate it higher than a Test or County Championship match.


  2. I love IPL , it gives my country 2 months of fun,entertainment and lots of JOY. We get to see our own players play alongside best cricketers from all countries. I dont care they come leaving their countries international cricket matches. Why should I? BCCI rules the cricketing world and thats great for me and my country. England ruled almost all countries in this world with the help of power,money and intelligence and I dont think English people repent that? They enjoyed the power and might of their country. Similarly by IPL we indians are only gaining and not loosing anything. So if it hurts other countries cricket or test cricket in general I dont care. Why should I ? If cricket teams dont want to miss their players ask ICC not schedule any tournaments during IPL.
    I am surprised that you rate england county cricket so high, if thats the case please explain why it has not won a single 50 overs world cup till date?


    1. The fifty over World Cup is a meaningless pyjama tournament; the County Championship is real cricket. If you want to know it affects England internationally, I suggest you look at the last two Test series between England and India…


  3. so whichever tournament England wins is REAL CRICKET and everything else is meaningless ! Great !
    England no longer rules the Cricketing world and it never will again .


      1. ah come on !! we all know England sucks at cricket these days.. !! Just like soccer you guys suck at every sport. LOL !! IPL is like a carnival we don’t need you out there.


      2. If England ‘suck’ at cricket, then how bad must India be to have lost 0-4 and 1-2 in the last two series? The IPL is indeed a carnival; it isn’t cricket.


  4. And what about series previous to these two? what about one day tournaments? what about Ashes losses to Aussies? What about no world cup victory till now? If england thinks IPL is so bad why does not ECB pay more to players so KP does not cry when he has to miss IPL? I totally understand how you must feel to see other country (India) dominate world of cricket both on field and off the field . I hope old days come back..but looks highly impossible TBH.


    1. I’ve already said that the World Cup and other pyjama tournaments are, by definition, meaningless. What about previous series between the two? What about previous Ashes defeats? The most recent time England lost to either India or Australia was 2008; it’s hardly relevant to current form. I’ve noticed that attitude is one endemic amongst Indian supporters; too often you live on past glories and fail to notice that right now the Indian team is at best mediocre. England are not the best and they have not been perfect recently. South Africa won in England last summer and deserved to because they were and are the better team. But we are quite good and we have won more often than we have lost. Certainly we have not had any 0-8 results overseas…

      The ECB actually do pay the players quite well; KP is just a spoilt, petulant brat. He and the BCCI make quite good bedfellows actually and I think that appeals to him more than the money.

      If you think India dominate the world of cricket on the pitch then you need to lay off the alcohol before commenting. The days of India’s glory are /gone/. You could not even beat England and home and when was the last time you beat South Africa? Until you can win away from your own backyard you aren’t dominating anything.


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