Sunday, June 12, 2011

The win over West Indies settles the IPL v/s country debate....

If ever there was a need to prove the worth of the IPL, it´s been proved last night. A supposed ¨B¨ grade Indian team has decisively trounced the West Indies in their own country. Admittedly, the WI is no great team at this point either. But its always a challenge for any Indian team to win internationally. Most Indian series wins have been within the country and not outside. And so, this win also needs to be applauded as any other win would be.

The win shows conclusively that the IPL has helped Indian cricket in very large measures. First and most importantly, it has provided depth to the Indian side. No longer are we dependent on the performances of a few critical players. Last night´s match demonstrates how the middle order and the tail end can take hold of a match that was well on its way to being lost. It doesn´t matter today that a Tendulkar, Dhoni, Sehwag, Gambhir and Yuvraj are not in the squad. It´s the likes of Raina, Rohit Sharma and the Badrinath´s of the world who are leading India´s battles now. Another young player like Kohli is actually looking like a veteran in contrast in today´s Indian squad! Such depth would have been impossible to imagine just a few years back.....before IPL started. It´s because of the IPL that so many new names have now become familiar to all Indians....that a bench strength has genuinely been created.

The second major change that IPL has brought about is in the confidence of the Indian players. Having played all the biggies from all countries, they know that they are not infallible. Today, a Brett Lee is just another pacer. A Kallis just another good allrounder. And a Gayle just another whimsical but brilliant batsman. Today, the Indian players can count themselves in the list of the best of the best. This confidence wouldn´t have been possible without the IPL.

The third major gain from the IPL is that just like competition helps in offering better value to customers, competition is helping Indian cricket by raising the standards. Today, pedigree is unimportant in the selection process. A Yuvraj was dropped for over a year when he hit a bad patch. In the olden days, he would have been tolerated for many seasons, before being dropped for good. In today´s times, the players are rested quickly, but also re-instated quickly. No doubt, this builds pressure on the players....but then, the pressure is required to keep the standards high.

Finally, the money that IPL has brought to the game has helped even those who would traditionally stay out of competitive sports into it. This has helpd to vastly improve the quality of people playing cricket. The IPL has provided the template for other sports. Today, it is possible to imagine reviving hockey by setting up a league format there also. What it needs is a visionary like Lalit Modi. No longer will the great game of hockey have to depend on largesse being provided by some corporate house or the government. Hockey can attract its own set of viewers....and there is a model that has now been provided by the IPL. Likewise, for other sports. Anything that can be made entertaining for TV viewership will be able to gain from the IPL experience. Beach volleyball maybe???!!!

The real truth is that there was never any sense in the debate about whether a player should choose country over IPL. By choosing IPL, the player is in fact choosing the country. At least, for Indian cricketers, there is really no choice required to be made. It may still be a relevant question for foreign cricketers who are caught between choosing one of the two. Honestly, it is the cash that keeps the cricketer going. Just like it is the cash that keeps the politicians.....and I dare say, the civil society activists.....going. I wonder if the Bhushans would have fought so hard if they hadn´t accumulated the huge fortune that they have!

1 comment:

  1. IPL format can't be replicated in hockey as there is no audience for the game in India when compared to cricket. Not even 10% of what cricket has.Sponsors will chase viewers. IPL is definitely a huge plus for Indian cricket.

    Beach volleyball may attract the urban youth especially men!