IPL was the best of concepts and the worst of concepts, for the average teenage go getter who is aspiring to be the next Sachin Tendulkar or Kumara Sangakkara. In global sense, IPL dragged non cricket lovers from their hovels and watch on with surprised interest. Players being auctioned for millions gave the viewer the excitement only the likes of club football fans have had experienced over the years. What was usually branded as a hugely time consuming sport was simmered down to just three hours making employers across the cricketing nations sigh of relief. IPL became a truly global event with fans from Kerala to Toronto.
It is no coincidence since the birth of the IPL, India has gone on to become the world champions in the 20 over format as well as the 50 over format. The emergence of Suresh Raina, Praveen Kumar, Rohit Sharma, the Tiwary brothers and of course Yusuf Pathan should be conveniently accredited to the enterprising franchise. Even the likes of the great Jaques Kallis had a few things to learn from the crash bang wallop league as for the first time in his career he continuously posted a strike rate of over a hundred. The need for quick fire runs made the veterans change their approach and youngsters express themselves devoid of any form of fear. Bowlers became much shrewder as batsmen became bolder and even in some cases (AB de Villiers) use a wooden device more in resemblance of club with a long handle than a conventional cricket bat. It is quite obvious IPL had more of an impact on batsmen rather than bowlers. Many a bowler have fine tuned and enhanced their repertoire of tricks and gambits to such an extent it has almost levelled out the playing field in batsman dominated game.
This gung ho manner of batting filtered in to the test arena as session run rates soared up and more results were achieved in the five day format. Formally empty stadiums were showing signs of life while hosting international tests. An excellent revelation… However my praise is soon to be supplant with severe concern and damnation of BCCI initiated enterprise.
Recently the charismatic Sri Lankan cricketing legend and the only man in a political position who is supremely versed in the governance of the game, Arjuna Ranatunga said the IPL is breeding “BUTCHERS” and not cricketers. I for one sat and marvelled his comments with complete and utter agreement. Every young player taking part in the IPL has struggled to cut it at test level, perishing to attempted agricultural strokes with no aesthetic value. Gone are the days of clinically technical stroke play of balance and surgical precision. Instead we’re made to endure attempted bludgeoning of a cricket ball which is quite reminiscent of our local sport “Elle”. Any up and coming young player would be out of their mind to refuse an IPL contract worth copious amounts of dollars and opt to play the pure form of the game. That is not the fault of the IPL but the human condition. Perfect example being Keiron Pollard, who has abandoned test cricket altogether in favour of the much more profitable staccato form of the game. However as a superior species we do posses the power of controlling the environment we live in and IPL does fall within that particular bracket.
Former England Captain Nassar Hussain is often mocked on air during commentary, by his peers for his love and admiration of a “good leave of a cricket ball”. These days, an innings filled with that particular skill is considered a perpetual disappointment. Our own Dinesh Chandimal who is blessed with fabulous hand eye coordination but not with technique was dropped after the first test against England during their recent tour of the island due to the mindless and industrious manner of his dismissals during the first test. He can only get worse in terms of the longer game, provided he perseveres in the IPL. What a waste…
Acquisition of a few strokes is not worth the impending doom of test cricket. It would truly be a catastrophe.
Unless you are an Indian, it is excruciatingly difficult to build any long term affiliation to one team as players and teams are chopped and changed. Personally I find the appointment of a coach for IPL teams is a complete and utter farce. Why would professional cricketers take part time coaching seriously?
Quite unsurprisingly the viewer ratings for the spectacle have also dropped in comparison to preceded years. The cumulative number of people who tuned in to watch the first six games was 90.1 million, down from 101.77 million last year. Television Viewer Ratings were down 18.7% with the opening six games posting an average TVR of 3.76 compared to 4.63 last season. To crudely translate the age old Sri Lankan saying, the “comb of the Cockerel you see every day is white…” After all there is such a thing as too much of something…
By Dhammika Ekanayake
Edited by Sunesh Rodrigo