Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Jamboree by name IPL

That Indian Cricket is going through a glorious period is something that has caught the fascination of many in this country. The team has started winning consistently outside the sub-continent. Whether it be in venues like Port of Spain, Kingston, Perth, Nottingham, or Johannesburg, where the test team has recorded comprehensive wins. The Twenty20 phenomenon too has caught on and the dreams of the young blood raising the 2011 World Cup are also being increasingly put forth with greater intensity. However amidst all this comes, a big festival by the name Indian Premier League or call it IPL.

Christened by that name, the IPL was the official version drawn up against the revolting Indian Cricket League of Subash Chandra and the Essar group. This parallel league envisioned could not take off in a fitting manner due to the efforts of the BCCI to erode any attempts to change its dictum in India's cricket scene. With the Twenty20 fever catching on in the country in the context of India's win at the Twenty20 World Cup has made IPL a permanent entity in the cricketing arena. However let me at the outset state that the game is increasingly become commercialized. A dear friend writes stating that this commercialization is nothing but fait accompli. Though I appreciate his article, for once I do not endorse the fait accompli factor at all. The Board of Control for Cricket in India or the BCCI is the most richest sports body in the country. Lalit Modi, BCCI Vice-President and the brain behind the IPL is out to 'market' or 'sell' the game.IPL is nothing but a complete sell-out to higher interests. In the name of Franchisees, big corporates have pooled in their moolah. The bidding process bares out the commercial interests running-or say, ruining the game!! The way in which players were bought exposes this fact. The corporate media was in the forefront stating disappointments as to why certain stars were sold only on the base price? Ricky Ponting expressed his belief that he could have been for a 'bit more'!! With the glamour quotient quite in vogue in this cricket crazy country, the film stars add glitz to the entire IPL!! Throwing in a Shahrukh Khan or Preity Zinta fetches more returns according to market analysts!!

The dream machine or the treasure box called IPL has also been sold out in terms of media rights, with the five years of telecast rights given to Sony television, which had also similarly pumped money to the ICC in five years to telecast World Cup and the Champions Trophy. The media has also gone to town with the fact that many small town cricketers will stand to benefit, thereby somewhere putting in the theory of trickle down. That the small town boys do have great dreams of wearing the India cap and colours is not some thing I would argue against. However, one also feels that brand endorsements along with the graded contracts system now in place in Indian cricket do benefit them. Even the domestic cricket today has a much more enhanced graded payment. Post-retirement too the players have been given many sops. Indian cricket arena has turned out to be a golden goose laying prosperity. But whose prosperity-of the corporates, brands, players or the audiences?? Thats the million dollar question!! My dear friend, though rightly points out that the entirely skewed system of IPL is part of the same system that produces handful of multi-billionaires and hundreds of farmers committing suicides!! However what is even more interesting is the fact that the person who should have been held accountable for those suicides is himself running this showbiz by being at the helm of affairs in Indian cricket. Perhaps the Great Indian Tamasha, now unravelling the maze of cricket's corporatization has more such fun-filled tales to reveal!!

(Cartoons courtesy The Hindu)

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