The big Tamasha begins today. Twelfth chapter of Indian premier League (IPL) begins today with a Big Bang match between two high profile teams – Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore. Let me first state some benefits of IPL:
(1) IPL has helped India attain numero uno position in T-20 cricket.
(2) The tournament provides the audience, both- on the field watching live match and millions of TV viewers enjoying in their homes- a pure unbridled “paisa vasool” entertainment.
(3) There are International stars adorning each of the teams, enhancing the star quotient of the teams and the tournament on the whole.
(4) There are big hits and each big hit is accompanied by cheer girls making the hit more spicy and audiences more delirious.
(5) For next 45 days or so, the cricket maniac nation is going to have its evenings overshadowed by IPL matches. The public will be distracted and all the hot topical issues for a change take a back seat.
(6) There’s big money for cricketers (securing their futures), big opportunity for advertisers, big moment for the team owners and big entertainment for the nation.
If all the above is true, what could be darker side of this IPL? Let me enumerate a few:
(1) When you think of IPL, which name comes to your mind first- Dhoni, Kohli, Sachin, Sahwag, Zaheer ? Unfortunately, it’s Lalit Modi, ensconced somewhere in beautiful and cool environs of England after his financial misconduct and other glaring irregularities.
(2) The money is so big that stars prefer IPL to all other cricketing opportunities- local leagues, domestic cricket, county cricket and even international cricket, where they represent India! They will be giving their best in this year’s IPL, lest their commercial value takes a beating in the next year’s auction, though that may mean totally burning themselves and risking injury ahead of World Cup!
(3) Illegal racket of betting reaches a crescendo and excruciatingly large proportions change hands, not even sparing the cricketers from its toxicity!
(4) The game is killing traditional cricket- when everything happens in about 5 hours and it’s not only cricket but whole lot of glamour ( Shahrukh, Preity, Shilpa, Nita are the owners), who wants to sit through whole day of tactical hitting ( one day matches) or five days of pure classic cricket?
(5) High paid IPL stars and big hitters, are sometimes no where near to making it to National team or have extremely short stints . Also, public memory is short lived unless you are a Chris Gayle or Glen Maxwell hitting big year after year!
Sports are fine, but our obsession with Cricket is doing disservice to other sports. Kabaddi and soccer leagues are attracting some sponsors, advertisers and eyeballs, but it’s too insignificant compared to cricket, especially IPL. I may sound slightly sceptical here (and even I will be watching a few matches being a cricket aficionado myself), but a Tamasha that creates such strong impression on the psyche of the country, should have some values associated to it rather than being a pure Tamasha with no essence! Pakistani cricketers, who were disallowed to participate in bidding after their country continued to fan terrorism in India, had big heart burn, till they also started their Pakistan Super League! Learning virtues from each other is anathema for both the countries ( though Pakistan unfortunately does not retain many lately), but in the matters of razzmatazz and glitterati, the game of one-upmanship is always on! Let’s play peace, love and pure cricket rather than One- upmanship !