I finally managed to watch an IPL match this season. This was at the Kotla in
and I was lucky to get an invite to be in one of the several premium lounges that have been created in the stadium. The experience can be described in just one word: awesome! Delhi
I was impressed with several things that I saw:
1) The facilities. Truly amazing. The stadium itself, the lighting, the cleanliness, the loos, the security arrangements all looked truly world-class. Entering the stadium was a bit of a walk, but the arrangements were marvellous. Sign-boards were in place; even the cops were friendly!
2) The ups and downs of the game obviously added to the excitement. Kolkata were able to make only 148 when everyone thought that a score of 200 was the bare minimum required to win at the small sized Kotla grounds.
started their reply strongly; and then floundered along the way. There was a sudden unexpected revival towards the end......which again got the crowds excited; but in the end, it just whimpered away. The crowd loved every turn the game took! Delhi
3) The sportiness of the crowd was so refreshing. I was expecting the crowd to behave parochially. I thought Kolkata in general and Gambhir in particular would get booed....but in reality, a large part of the crowd was actually supporting Kolkata. There were two clear camps.....I guess one reason Kolkata got so much support was because of the presence of SRK!
4) There was free booze and food all around! Wow....I never thought this could be possible in
. I’ve only seen the TV telecast of matches held in India ....where the crowd guzzles on beer while sunbathing in their skimpy clothes! Never could I have imagined that free booze would flow in the stadiums as patrons watched the match from the comforts of an airconditioned zone! I admit I was in a premium zone, but even then, even in that limited zone, to expect such facilities would have been unthinkable before IPL started. Australia
5) The fact that some 60 of the world’s best cricketers and an additional 200 odd Indian cricketers were devoting all their time and energy to IPL made me feel really proud. In fact, international crickets cocking a snook at their boards and opting to play for IPL instead was a little embarrassing at first; but it’s a proud feeling that
can dictate terms to other nations in cricket. We’re not used to this feeling....usually, it’s the others who keep pushing us around.....but now, they kowtow to our demands! The reason of course is well known....85% of world funding of cricket comes from Indian advertisers.....! Cricketers earn their fame in their countries, but earn their money in India .... India
6) The cheering girls were “bindaas”. No worries about the crowd jeering at them! The girls were confident and realized they were all part of a global entertainment jambooree.....each of them enjoying their spot in the sun. I am told Jacque Kallis’s sister is one amongst the cheering girls!
7) The electronics in the stadium was terrific. Apart from the three giant screens, there were literally hundreds of TV sets scattered all around. So one glance around and one could get all the TV replays that one wanted. The electronic advertising boards around the ground were also fascinating....especially when all of them turned to display just one advertising message!
All in all, the experience spoke loudly that at least in the world of cricket,
was the boss and there was no challenger anywhere close by. One has to give credit to the BCCI for developing the facilities.....of course there have been many accusations against them on various grounds; but the fact remains that they have delivered. One must grant them the applause that is due to them. Clearly also, when we watch an IPL match, we are reminded of the genius of the man called Lalit Modi. We need him back; even if it means condoning all his sins.... India
The success with IPL and cricket in general tells me that we can develop other sports also in the same manner. People want excitement; the shorter format after-office-hours entertainment format works very well. Indian hockey can certainly get organized into clubs. What we need is a few people with big imagination....people like Lalit Modi. If league hockey can be created, I am confident that TV viewership will shift towards it.....triggering off a virtuous spiral in that sport as well.
The real truth is that the experience last night made me feel really proud. I was able to imagine a time a few years hence when we would be able to assert ourselves in the same manner in global politics and business also. We just need stronger leaders; stronger visionaries. But we also need a supportive audience......and a little patience and self belief. That’s what’s going to determine if we grab our destinies in our hands or let it go by.....