THE DLF Indian Premier League’s unrivalled success, along with the Twenty20 format, has radicalised cricket, according to Indo-Asian News’ National Affairs editor, Murali Krishnan writes Iain Green.
Since its inception in 2008, the IPL has gone from strength to strength, despite having to play this year’s tournament in South Africa due the Indian authorities’ refusal to police both the Indian elections and the IPL in quick succession.
The tournament, along with its iconic performers and sponsors, has put Indian cricket firmly back onto the cricketing map, with the host nation using the financial rewards on offer to surge ahead of Australia to become the leading one-day team in international competition.
Due to the IPL’s success, Krishnan feels it will be incredibly hard to entice supporters back to the longer form of the game, as they now recognise cricket as being packaged with all the trimmings of a pop concert.
“I’m not sure how the governing body hopes to bring people back to county cricket, and I’m not sure they mind too much while they are still generating a huge amount of money,” said Krishnan. “In India, we have around 52 television channels that screen the IPL and Twenty20 cricket, and there’s little call for domestic competitions such as the Ranjee Trophy, the Duleeph Trophy and the Deodhar Trophy, which means these competitions do not receive the publicity that they should.”
“In days gone by, the BCCI (Indian Cricket Board) used to actively encourage their next-generation stars to go to England and play county cricket, as they felt they could learn a lot technically whilst adapting to the conditions. But that’s not the case anymore, as our youngsters are predominantly interested in the IPL and Twenty20, and are less focused on four and five day matches. It’s obviously because of money, but also because they are levered in that particular direction by their coaches and clubs when they are breaking through, which is why there are players within the competition that are unknown outside of Twenty20, and often, IPL, circles, as they are purely limited overs specialists.”
There is now talk of both expanding the IPL to include ten teams, whilst also taking the tournament to the US, which is a more realistic possibility now that the US has been handed a qualifying round wildcard for the next ICC Twenty20 World Cup.
The move may well be financially profitable , but may also further tarnish the reputation of a competition that traditionalists and some commentators feel is ruining cricket.