New cricket order May 8, 2008

The genius and the dirt of IPL

The genius of the Indian Premier League is not only has it created an international buzz, but it has also opened up a whole new world of possibilities for cricket

The genius of the Indian Premier League is not only has it created an international buzz, but it has also opened up a whole new world of possibilities for cricket. Let’s be clear, the Indian Premier League has hijacked the original idea of the Indian Cricket League and ground its competitor into the dirt. The current formula is problematic, mainly because of the sheer volume of matches crammed into too many weeks.

The execution, however, is a different matter to the concept, and indeed there have been many positives, not least the colour and glitz of each T20 spectacle. Indian fans have enthused about suddenly flung together teams and Indian cricketers have seized an opportunity to shine on a different kind of international stage.

Other countries have fared less well, however. Pakistan’s players have mostly struggled to make an impression on the tournament, which must be some reflection of the quality of Pakistan’s current team. Shoaib Malik and Co can’t even claim to be overworked. If the PCB has any sense it will learn that its own players have much to do to match many of their leading international counterparts. Pakistan fans can only hope that the Packer effect of raising international standards also applies to Pakistan players and the IPL.

The second lesson the PCB should learn from the success of the IPL is that the idea of a Pakistan Premier League is an absolute folly. Why consider a tournament that can only be a pale imitation of the IPL? It might be an idea to revisit when Pakistan’s team is strong again and the country’s cricket is flourishing, but not yet.

Yet the verdict on Pakistan’s own tournament should not be the same as the many other ideas that have sprung up around the world, especially in England. The prerequisites for an IPL-imitator are a strong cricketing infrastructure that provides for fans and fills stadiums, an attractive and lucrative location for international stars, and sponsorship and that will invigorate and fuel the tournament. England, like India and Australia has all these ingredients.

And this is how the IPL –or should we say ICL—has created a whole new genre of cricket. The formula and execution still require more work but any product that produces such an instant global buzz and immediate imitators must have an exciting future—until, of course, the next brilliant idea comes along and grinds today’s crumb of genius into the dirt.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

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