New Delhi:The inaugural Indian Premier League has been a nation-wide hit and there is no second opinion about that. A lot has been said about how it has given a platform to youngsters to showcase their talent and how rivals have turned friends on the field and vice-versa.
Now with the culmination of the first season, it's time to see what are the side effects and after-effects of this cricket carnival. Positives are there for everyone to see. But what lies ahead for cricket as a game?
With the success of the first edition of the Indian Premier League, other cricket boards are already mulling over launching their own versions of the league. Except Dmitri Mascarenhas, no other English cricketer participated in the cricket extravaganza. So did they miss out on the big moolah? Yes! But now England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has decided to come up with their 'League' in a few years from now. Cricket Australia and Pakistan Cricket Board are also pondering over launching their leagues after witnessing the success of their players in the tournament.
And did I mention the Stanford T20 tournament in West Indies! Of course, it came into existence before the IPL. Last but not the least is the ICL (Indian Cricket League), which has become a condemned refuge for the retired players or the players who have been overlooked or damned by their national boards. But the rebel league does not bother the ICC. The problem lies ahead!
Too much cricket
After the very first season, three countries are thinking about their leagues. Three years down the line, at least four countries running their cricket leagues, one wonders what will happen to international cricket. The ICC, world cricket's governing body has given IPL a status of domestic tournament. Will it recognize all other leagues likewise? In the already-packed international schedule, how will they find place?
And our own Lalit Modi, the IPL Commissioner, was so ecstatic with his brainchild's success that he had already started talking about his plans for two IPL seasons in a year from 2011. A 44-day event twice a year! That's really dreadful. Thankfully, they have dropped the idea for the time being.
But they are planning to add three more teams after three years. With eight teams, we had a 59-match long tournament. With eleven teams, we'll have an 81-match long event. Now that's too much!
One must understand that cricket is not a 90-minute soccer game. Even this shortest version of the game is almost four hours long. With the 59-match-long event happening at breakneck pace, there's hardly any time to savour the great cricketing moments.
The experts are divided on whether Twenty20 will detach cricket followers from Tests and ODIs. The fact is no matter what, the real followers will follow all forms of the game. The only problem is - will the ICC accommodate the IPL in their Future Tour Programme (FTP)? If they give place to IPL in their FTP, then they will have to say 'yes' to other upcoming leagues as well. If they don't, then players would be seen hopping from one league to other, shuttling between the luring leagues and their national duties. Consequently, it will cause many more early retirements.
Time to recuperate
The Indian selectors have announced the squad for the Bangladesh tri-series. Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan have missed the bus due to their recurrent injuries. Tendulkar sustained a groin injury during the South Africa Test series and missed seven IPL games. He made his debut in the second phase of the tournament, declaring himself fully fit. Mumbai failed to make it to semifinal stage and now we know his injury has resurfaced. How? Zaheer's heel injury has also been troubling him for quiet some time, but he played some of the IPL games.
So did they succumb to pressure from their franchises? The problem is, in the jam-packed international calendar, key players like Tendulkar, Dhoni etc. and fast bowlers face maximum strain and physical exertion, and their body and mind need adequate amount of time to recuperate. Playing in a hectic tournament like IPL accompanied by so much of travelling, it is but natural that it will take a toll on their fitness levels.
It was fun to watch Tendulkar open the innings with Jayasuriya, but a greater treat for a cricket fan is to see their 'Hero' open with Sehwag and flay Australia or Pakistan.
The IPL organisers must understand that despite the event being a great venture, they need to come up with solutions to many unsolved problems and unanswered questions in the next season. No doubt the Twenty20 format has rejuvenated cricket, but it must be accepted that the beauty of the game lies in the game itself and not the business associated with it.
Instead of having two IPL seasons in a year or introducing more teams, can we look forward to an improved version of the cricket extravaganza next year? What can we do to improve IPL? Suggest ways