Love or hate the IPL

Hi everyone

Some time back, I suggested that I might should outsource my blogging. One of my very good friends in Mumbai, Sarang, then very gently said that he would like to write an article about IPL, and here you have it:

“What we call a mind is nothing but a heap or collection of different perceptions, united together by certain relations and supposed, though falsely, to be endowed with a perfect simplicity and identity.” David Hume, in his ‘A Treatise of Human Nature’ has said, and I do agree. Human mind is an amazingly complex structure which stores a collection of different perceptions, sometimes exactly contradictory to each other, at the same time, in the same location. Moreover, it is notoriously fast in processing and bringing forth such contrasting perceptions in a flash of a moment, dissecting one’s self into two separate personalities with contrasting thought processes imbibed into one another.

Ever since the inception of the sports entertainment extravaganza, the mighty IPL (Indian Premier League), in to the game of world cricket, I have also experienced this extraordinarily singular anomaly of the human mind. There’s always a fight within, as to whether the IPL is beneficial for the growth of the global sport or a disaster, whether the IPL is a total loss of hard-earned public money or the most effective way of converting black money in the market into a white one, whether it is being used as a platform by the newcomers and strugglers to get in to the national team or just a medium of making astounding sum overnight, whether I hate it or love it, and most importantly, whether it deserves abomination or a due respect for what it is, be it cricket, another sport, an entertainment, or even a joke.

‘One me’ hates the IPL like anything. For it, the IPL is just a trash. Everything related to the IPL is crass. The owners and big wigs of the teams whose knowledge of the sport is as good as Kapil Dev’s knowledge of classical singing, the auctions where players are ‘sold out’ and ‘bought out’ for an exorbitant amount of money as in the horse trading, the opening and closing ceremonies which are mostly an embarrassment watching together with family (and more so when you have an elder at home who happens to be a passionate cricketer of his times, watching in amusement, the risqué that’s telecast on a cricket ground), the fact that the star players make themselves available for the full tournament straight out of the hospital bed, and the retired ones who rise like a phoenix from the ashes (read: deathbed of their careers) once in a year exactly at this time of year to refill their bank balance, the presence of Bollywood fraternities in the presentation ceremonies, and on the cricket ground performing gags and giggling around with the female anchors, actors and actresses promoting their soon-to-be-flop movies during the ‘extra innings T20’, the clad dressed cheerleaders, post-match parties, and finally the media and advertisement house’s role in creating a hype and mass hysteria around this whole package, it’s all crass. It’s not a sport, but a mere shameless show of the powerful, money minded, profit mongering business houses, advertisement big shots and page3 celebrities of Bollywood.

‘One me’ also believes strongly that the current state of the Indian cricket team which has been thrashed left and right by the English and the Aussies recently in all forms of the game, is due to the IPL and the T20. He also believes that the test cricket which is considerably the highest form of cricket, is in dire straits with the promotion of the IPL and such tournaments. It feels that the commercialization of cricket due to the IPL has not only put immense strain on the very basic nature and the building block of this sport, but also taken the sheen out of the game, and the quality, passion and intensity with which it is ought to have been played.

The ‘Other me’ has a contrasting view of the IPL. Yes, the other me indeed loves and respect IPL for what it is. A perfect blend of sport and entertainment for the viewers, total cost of ownership and the return on investment for the owners, talent and opportunity for the players, dreams for the young and survival for the retired legends of the game, and most importantly, a revenue generating model which not only establishes India firmly as the economic superpower in world cricket, but also generates tremendous business opportunities for small time entrepreneurs and employment to a great deal of poor Indian citizens. This other me, asks the one me, to think for a moment, about that particular snacks vendor standing in the hot sun outside Wankhede stadium in Mumbai, selling his stuff and making 100 times more money on the match day than a normal routine day to earn the sum which might be used to fund his son’s education or his daughter’s marriage. This other me, also asks the one me, to think about that construction labour, who, after a day-long hectic work at the site, comes home and gets glued to the TV catching up with the excitement and the buzz, rooting for his home team and cheering for his beloved players, temporarily forgetting the hardships of his life enjoying the action on that black and white veteran idiot box.

And when it comes to the quality and worthiness of the sport itself, my ‘other me’ also argues with my ‘one me’ to think of the very basic nature of the sport, when I was first introduced to cricket during my childhood. What’s the very basic nature of this sport, I thought, recollecting my initial stints when all I knew was that the bowler will bowl, and I have to see the ball and try to hit it out of the boundary lines either grounded or in the air. The sophistication of taking singles, doubles, rotating the strikes, planning strategies etc. came much later in the cycle as we grew older and became more mature in the knowledge of the sport. Similarly, as a bowler, all I knew was to get one of the three wickets of the batsman by making him blindfolded with either the spin or the pace. The very basic nature of the game doesn’t change. It has never changed. It’s our legends in the sport who have changed it over a period of time which has been accepted and adapted to, widely, and yet, we are afraid of the recent change that’s called IPL and the T20.

And then my ‘other me’ also asks very intriguing questions to which my ‘one me’ has no real answers apart from the hypocritical ones.

Would Sehwag’s upper cut as an answer to Shaun Tait’s extreme pace differ in quality when he hits it in an IPL match than the same shot played in the test match? Would Dale Steyn be a treat to watch when he bowls the scorcher of a spell in a test cricket than the one he bowled in an IPL match few days back? Can some young talent’s confidence boost and experience gained be measured in sums when he plays with the likes of Dada, Tendulkar, Dravid, Vettori, Muralitharan, Steyn, Gilli, Peterson, Gayle etc. and trains under the watchful eyes of Donald, Rhodes, Lehmann, Akram, Bayliss, Upton, Leipus etc.? Is 30 minutes of a carnage less significant and trivial than two sessions of stolid defence? What difference it makes to the passionate lover of the game when a diving Suresh Raina picks a blinder with one hand to dismiss a tail ender in an IPL match versus the similar act of brilliance by him to dismiss Mahela Jayawardhane in CB series?

My ‘other me’ reminds me every now and then the butterflies I have in my stomach when I go to bat for my organization inside Microsoft in a friendly cricket match against another team in the same organization where more than half are my acquaintances, and no money, no audience pressure, or a win loss prestige is at stake. It reminds me to respect the players who still have to work hard to be able to get picked up the next season, and to live up to the viewer’s expectations, not to forget the owner’s as well. Also, it is very easy to comment on them sitting here writing loads and loads of articles, but even with the sum involved, it is not an easy task to just be able to play for the sake of money, and not for performance when almost every other person in your own team and the opposition is a big star and the world is looking after your performances in relative terms to not only those who are established but also with those who are yet to make a mark. Even if one assumes that these players are money minded, passionless lot when it comes to IPL, they still have to work hard and perform, to make sure they get picked up for a better sum next year, and one must respect them for what they do.

And lastly, my ‘other me’ reminds my ‘one me’ about paying my taxes judiciously when it talks about the owners and the players being money minded, commercialized profit mongers, for it doesn’t make me any different than them when I save one single rupee unethically by not paying to the government and utilizing it for my personal reasons howsoever convenient it may seem. And just when I question the owner’s decisions which are taken out of the commercial reasons and not cricket, it asks me to introspect why I backed off the deal which offered me lesser price for one of my goods and sold it to the one who offered a li’l bit more. And believe me, my ‘one me’ has no answers to any of these. To conclude with, my ‘other one’ often ends the fight with the popular saying,

‘All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; second, it is violently opposed; and third, it is accepted as self-evident.’

Sarang also have his own blog, and I would highly recommend that you take a look at it. He writes quite well, and has some interesting observations.

Talk to you soon!

Karsten

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