July 6, 2010

The most important people in the game

Who is cricket run for - advertisers, television companies, franchisees? Is anyone thinking of the players and the fans?
38

To echo Paul Simon, these are the days of miracle and wonder. For my generation, Test Match Special and Jim Maxwell and Tim Lane on ABC was as good as it got when it came to following cricket from other continents. Now, someone who has never left south India can sit back and watch a War of the Roses clash from Headingley. Students from the subcontinent in North America can pool resources and invest in a Jadoo Box, which ensures that the umbilical cord with the homeland is not cut. With a reliable internet connection, you could be in the outback somewhere and yet use Cricinfo's Hawk-Eye tool to know exactly how much a Shaun Tait delivery deviated off the seam before crashing into Andrew Strauss's stumps.

Yet, with all these riches, it's impossible to escape the feeling that something has been lost. A few days ago, I read something on these pages that made me feel like I'd been slapped in the face. "The IPL is not cricket," an Indian Premier League franchise official told Cricinfo. "IPL is commerce. If the player is tired or unfit, somebody else who is fit and fresher would play. You can't play around [with] the business model for that."

Not cricket. Commerce. Business model. Such a statement shouldn't even be dignified with a response, but it made me ask myself: If you take a sport as a whole, who are the most important constituents? The owners who sink vast personal wealth into franchises and teams, or in the case of England's two most famous football entities, use them to pay off their own grubby debt? The broadcasters that pay sizeable fees to ensure that the games can be viewed by as many people as possible? Advertisers and sponsors who keep the sport in the limelight?

All of them are important, but they're supporting actors at best. The lead roles belong to the players, without whom there would be no sport, and the fans, whose eyeballs make it worthwhile to invest such fortunes in a game. Invariably most players start off as young fans, their dreams fired by what they see from this side of the boundary rope. The better ones, the true superstars, never lose sight of those watching once they've made it across to the other side.

Just as some Christians ask themselves: "What would Jesus do?" so the perceptive administrator should be thinking along the lines of: what do the fans want? Sadly that's seldom the case. Does the BCCI really have its finger on the Indian fan's pulse? Is Ijaz Butt representative of the average Pakistani supporter? Does Peter Chingoka speak for those who watch from a windswept gallery in Bulawayo?

The revelation that the IPL is not cricket should make most fans think ahead to the long-term ramifications of hosting the world's richest league. Rupert Murdoch and Sky created the English Premier League two years after England's footballers had lost a thrilling semi-final at the 1990 World Cup. All they did was cash in on the "gentrification" of the game, after two decades of hooliganism had turned away big chunks of the population.

Nearly two decades on, the most-watched league in the world is a financial behemoth, albeit standing on unsteady ground after the upheavals of 2008. In that time, though, the national team has not once come close to taking the final step that just eluded the heroes of 1990. Their recent humiliation in South Africa would have surprised no one who had seen through the excessive hype and the delusions induced by too big a wage packet.

In the age of miracle and wonder, and TV deals worth a billion dollars, the fan who queues up at dawn in order to sit on super-heated concrete has been shafted. If you keep telling him that he's wasting his time on something that's only business, he will eventually walk away

After two consecutive World Twenty20 embarrassments and an early exit at the Champions Trophy, there are more than a few Indian fans asking if the IPL really is what the packaging says. Next year, after a six-week long World Cup on the subcontinent, most of India's key players will head straight into an enlarged version of the IPL. Another six weeks, and as many as 20 games for some players. What kind of shape will they be in after that to face the challenges of a new season?

England's footballers fail partly because their clubs come first, because they're ready for the knacker's yard by the time a World Cup or European Championship is played in June. How many Indian cricket fans want to see the same thing happen to their team? How many really believe that a 94-game IPL season, with the threat of more exhibition games in North America someday soon, is the best way forward?

I've been to IPL games that were sold out, where the atmosphere was charged with emotion and excitement. But I've also been at the Eden Gardens on the final day of three Test matches (Australia 2001, Pakistan 2005 and South Africa 2010), when people all around me, young and old, flew over the cuckoo's nest. There simply isn't a comparison.

Fans in Australia, South Africa and England are compensated in some ways - a more pleasant viewing experience, half-decent food, cold beer and adequate transport to and from the ground. In India you have to be a masochist to attempt the stadium experience, unless you're a journalist in an air-conditioned press box, or on the whisky and kebabs in some hospitality enclosure.

In the age of miracle and wonder, and TV deals worth a billion dollars, the hardcore fan, who queues up at dawn in order to sit on super-heated concrete, often without enough drinking water, has been shafted. If you keep telling him that he's wasting his time on something that's not a sport, that's only business, he will eventually walk away. And unlike him, the come-lately groupies that tweet about Yuvi being "cho chweet" aren't there for the long haul.

During a lap of honour in the early 1970s, Bill Shankly, the legendary Liverpool manager, picked up a fan's scarf that a policeman had kicked away. "Don't do that," he said. "That scarf is the boy's life."

Very few in cricket administration know the value of that scarf.

Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • knowledge_eater on July 9, 2010, 0:35 GMT

    With Indian life style changing way quicker than these days, I think IPL have to fix and start giving fans back. I love the umbilical cord phenomena, and in fact, people abroad are actually on average have less luxurious lifestyle compare to current IPL fan crop in India. IPL must start to give back to fans who actually likes to see what they paid for. Its just unfair if you charge this much and give back crap service. I questioned and try to compare fan's respect on Sid Monga's article but well nevermind. If IPL is saying its similar to NBA style, then they must start to respect normal fans and how much service they are providing. I absolutely DO NOT agree at least not yet, that IPL is ruining Indian Cricket and its performance. They must start building better facilities. ADMINISTRATORS must let their Ego go, and give back more to fans. I have never spent a penny on IPL, but I know if you don't give back especially to Indian fans get ready for 1996 part 2 in a professional manner.

  • SVXX on July 7, 2010, 14:44 GMT

    You're right IPLFan. It's not just the IPL that's having a negative effect on the players. It's the endless bilateral series(read : India v SL) that are being served up by the BCCI. I say ban both. Even better, sack everyone in the BCCI and make sure it is run by ex-players who aren't greedy for money. We need a radical overhaul if anything is going to change. Like a stubborn old goose, the BCCI will not admit its follies until probably a player drops down dead, or the stadium starts stinking due to 3rd class toilets IPL matches are similar to short orgasms, really. I've lost interest in them now, as have many others(but there are brave little ones like you, IPLFan). Maybe it'll take 3 more years before the IPL is scrapped, but get scrapped it will. Mark my words. PS : I find it very strange that some people still support the IPL on basis of lame excuses like "entertainment" and such. Maybe we should have bio-androids playing cricket, and not humans. They won't get exhausted. T2 maybe?

  • IPLFan on July 7, 2010, 8:56 GMT

    "Another six weeks, and as many as 20 games for some players. What kind of shape will they be in after that to face the challenges of a new season?"

    Can we stop spreading this myth that IPL is lot of workload for the players? It seems like that, because as fans we see a match every day, but for the teams themselves, it is not much work at all. A typical 3-Test, 5-odi bilateral series organized by bcci also lasts 6 weeks. That is 20 full days of cricket, mostly under hot sun. Plus 8 hops to different cities, some remote places in the case of odi's. Compare that to IPL - 20 T20 matches, mostly in the evenings. i.e. less than half the workload of a typical bilateral series under much cooler conditions. Travel is not anymore onerous either. Last year, RCB team made 9 hops to play their 15 matches, mostly to well-connected metros.

  • Vivek.Bhandari on July 7, 2010, 8:11 GMT

    It's really a hard-hitting article...and for me it especially stands out for 2 reasons. one is for reminding the test matches at Eden Garden, where the home captains have always regarded the crowd as their '12th man' and secondly, the facilities provided in Indian grounds...absolutely pathetic..despite the crores they are churning out with every match..every tour...:((

  • sitaram58 on July 7, 2010, 1:48 GMT

    Dileep

    This situation has come and passed for the average sports fan in the US. If one wants to watch "pure" sports they prefer the collegiate games. When I visit my hometown of Hyderabad it is more fun to watch a lower division cricket league match - the games are not staged, the players seem to be having fun while competing and the experience is anything but a "tamasha".

    Sitaram

  • TATTUs on July 7, 2010, 1:17 GMT

    Well siad. There are umpteen irrelevant matches going on! Reduce the number of matches.Bring sanity into schedule! Even hardcore spectators [like me and my friends] are getting bored of this. As you said, many would eventually walk away. I hate the words like 'business model', 'brand' , 'product', 'Indian brand etc. It should just remain a sport.'

  • Hiteshdevilliers on July 6, 2010, 22:21 GMT

    I hate the IPL and hope it dies soon, or at least once the binding media contracts are up. The BCCI has ruined cricket. All the Indian players do is either play in the IPL, Bangladesh, or Sri Lanka in recurring useless tournaments. All will see how tough this Indian team is when it goes to South Africa later this year on those hard bouncy pitches against Steyn and Morkel. Just like the England football team, I fear the Indian team is being over hyped. Cricket is no longer a game with common man interests and is rapidly transitioning into a business empire. My love and passion for the game is dwindling and after watching another agonizing India-Sri Lanka series my passion will be next to nothing. Oh dear god.

  • lefthand on July 6, 2010, 19:26 GMT

    whist I agree with almost everything you've written here, I'm afriad its a case of 'stating the obvious'. but decent read. sounds like a discussion I'd have with friends over a few pints :-)

  • Robster1 on July 6, 2010, 17:22 GMT

    Good article as the world over, cricket administrators seem to do little but fuss over how they can bring in ever more money. There is quite simply far too much unstructed cricket, with endless and pointless ODI's doing little but bringing in $.

    All boards should hang their heads in shame, the worst of all being the BCCI and ECB.

    Can we please have our game back.

  • on July 6, 2010, 15:58 GMT

    Excellent article.Have to agree that cricket administration is the worst.

  • knowledge_eater on July 9, 2010, 0:35 GMT

    With Indian life style changing way quicker than these days, I think IPL have to fix and start giving fans back. I love the umbilical cord phenomena, and in fact, people abroad are actually on average have less luxurious lifestyle compare to current IPL fan crop in India. IPL must start to give back to fans who actually likes to see what they paid for. Its just unfair if you charge this much and give back crap service. I questioned and try to compare fan's respect on Sid Monga's article but well nevermind. If IPL is saying its similar to NBA style, then they must start to respect normal fans and how much service they are providing. I absolutely DO NOT agree at least not yet, that IPL is ruining Indian Cricket and its performance. They must start building better facilities. ADMINISTRATORS must let their Ego go, and give back more to fans. I have never spent a penny on IPL, but I know if you don't give back especially to Indian fans get ready for 1996 part 2 in a professional manner.

  • SVXX on July 7, 2010, 14:44 GMT

    You're right IPLFan. It's not just the IPL that's having a negative effect on the players. It's the endless bilateral series(read : India v SL) that are being served up by the BCCI. I say ban both. Even better, sack everyone in the BCCI and make sure it is run by ex-players who aren't greedy for money. We need a radical overhaul if anything is going to change. Like a stubborn old goose, the BCCI will not admit its follies until probably a player drops down dead, or the stadium starts stinking due to 3rd class toilets IPL matches are similar to short orgasms, really. I've lost interest in them now, as have many others(but there are brave little ones like you, IPLFan). Maybe it'll take 3 more years before the IPL is scrapped, but get scrapped it will. Mark my words. PS : I find it very strange that some people still support the IPL on basis of lame excuses like "entertainment" and such. Maybe we should have bio-androids playing cricket, and not humans. They won't get exhausted. T2 maybe?

  • IPLFan on July 7, 2010, 8:56 GMT

    "Another six weeks, and as many as 20 games for some players. What kind of shape will they be in after that to face the challenges of a new season?"

    Can we stop spreading this myth that IPL is lot of workload for the players? It seems like that, because as fans we see a match every day, but for the teams themselves, it is not much work at all. A typical 3-Test, 5-odi bilateral series organized by bcci also lasts 6 weeks. That is 20 full days of cricket, mostly under hot sun. Plus 8 hops to different cities, some remote places in the case of odi's. Compare that to IPL - 20 T20 matches, mostly in the evenings. i.e. less than half the workload of a typical bilateral series under much cooler conditions. Travel is not anymore onerous either. Last year, RCB team made 9 hops to play their 15 matches, mostly to well-connected metros.

  • Vivek.Bhandari on July 7, 2010, 8:11 GMT

    It's really a hard-hitting article...and for me it especially stands out for 2 reasons. one is for reminding the test matches at Eden Garden, where the home captains have always regarded the crowd as their '12th man' and secondly, the facilities provided in Indian grounds...absolutely pathetic..despite the crores they are churning out with every match..every tour...:((

  • sitaram58 on July 7, 2010, 1:48 GMT

    Dileep

    This situation has come and passed for the average sports fan in the US. If one wants to watch "pure" sports they prefer the collegiate games. When I visit my hometown of Hyderabad it is more fun to watch a lower division cricket league match - the games are not staged, the players seem to be having fun while competing and the experience is anything but a "tamasha".

    Sitaram

  • TATTUs on July 7, 2010, 1:17 GMT

    Well siad. There are umpteen irrelevant matches going on! Reduce the number of matches.Bring sanity into schedule! Even hardcore spectators [like me and my friends] are getting bored of this. As you said, many would eventually walk away. I hate the words like 'business model', 'brand' , 'product', 'Indian brand etc. It should just remain a sport.'

  • Hiteshdevilliers on July 6, 2010, 22:21 GMT

    I hate the IPL and hope it dies soon, or at least once the binding media contracts are up. The BCCI has ruined cricket. All the Indian players do is either play in the IPL, Bangladesh, or Sri Lanka in recurring useless tournaments. All will see how tough this Indian team is when it goes to South Africa later this year on those hard bouncy pitches against Steyn and Morkel. Just like the England football team, I fear the Indian team is being over hyped. Cricket is no longer a game with common man interests and is rapidly transitioning into a business empire. My love and passion for the game is dwindling and after watching another agonizing India-Sri Lanka series my passion will be next to nothing. Oh dear god.

  • lefthand on July 6, 2010, 19:26 GMT

    whist I agree with almost everything you've written here, I'm afriad its a case of 'stating the obvious'. but decent read. sounds like a discussion I'd have with friends over a few pints :-)

  • Robster1 on July 6, 2010, 17:22 GMT

    Good article as the world over, cricket administrators seem to do little but fuss over how they can bring in ever more money. There is quite simply far too much unstructed cricket, with endless and pointless ODI's doing little but bringing in $.

    All boards should hang their heads in shame, the worst of all being the BCCI and ECB.

    Can we please have our game back.

  • on July 6, 2010, 15:58 GMT

    Excellent article.Have to agree that cricket administration is the worst.

  • PSK_analyst on July 6, 2010, 15:53 GMT

    Excellent article....articulating the fears and emotions of true indian cricket lovers. The IPL has so far had a negative influence on the Indian team performances and with the number of games increasing there could be more embarrassing moments in store for the indian cricket lover. I wish the people in the ground had decent facilities . The excitement the IPL generates does not come anywhere near that comes with watching "meaningful" indian matches (excluding the countless "meaningless" ODIs the team plays every year) .

  • since7 on July 6, 2010, 15:27 GMT

    bang.I can happily say this is the most important article by cricinfo.I remember watching the chennai test where india chased 387..Chennai is home to a very rich IPL team and the owners who is also a BCCI bigwig,sriniviasan..But what I got for toilet was a sink where one would return with his legs filled with stench.This may be silly but just abt shows how much the so called sdministrators care for the people who feed them..

  • forzaps on July 6, 2010, 13:06 GMT

    If it wasn't for the IPL a lot fans would have to wait for our "rotation policy" to give them an international match once a year where they can have a live experience. At least with the IPL there are 10 cities where there is a cricket season. This is almost certainly going to lead to an improvement in facilities at those stadia because of paying fans (this has in fact already started happening). The business model will mean nothing if the fans are put off.

  • _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on July 6, 2010, 12:42 GMT

    @CricFin.I believe your not reading enough lol, there r loads questioning both the EPL,coach n the grass-roots system following Eng's "disappointing" FIFA WC campaign. Just shows that when a powerful media and a people expect so much of their team (at times a little unrealistically) n they don't live up to such expectations, such are the reactions. I really think it is a case of naivety by both the media n the fans. Eng made it to the 2nd round, I think that was a decent effort considering there were many teams, some equally talented who didn't make it and then they were beaten by a better team who played really well on the day. Bayern with key German players made the CL finals n Ger made the Euro finals 2 yrs prior, surely Ger could equally have been favorites. Similarly IND in t20 WC faltered against the short ball,is that something new?Their fielding remained poor for yrs! Is it such a shock that they lost with their batting hindered? IPL n EPL has li'l to do wid both team's probs.

  • ian_ghose on July 6, 2010, 12:25 GMT

    It's funny, when Gideon Haigh says that the BCCI officials are corrupt leeches who eat up all the money, giving nothing back to the specatators in the form of stadium comfort, amenities,showing absolutely no respect for the money paying public, everyone goes in arms against him, ready to lynch him. However, when Dileep Premchandran says the same everyone agrees with him and calls the BCCI and IPL as evil :p Lol!! Maybe its because Gideon uses very erudite English which most people (from India) don't understand and think him to be cursing their mothers and sisters... :p

  • jomesh on July 6, 2010, 12:20 GMT

    Over the article & the comments, it is clear that the real cricket fan in India is receding away from IPL. However, it is strange to note certain comments supporting IPL - I am sure these comments can come only from the promoters of IPL / employed by one of the franchises. There were comments like "no one has written about EPL destroying English football" & just a direct attack on writers! Well, friend, check the facts before calling shots: even todays WSJ/Times/BBC sites contain articles that lament the role of EPL in the appalling state of English football. The IPL matter has been discussed over & over again in friend-circles of avid cricket fans and the conclusion is clear- no one likes IPL as such OR doesnt consider it as serious cricket: It is more a 'tamasha' than sport. No one comes to a cricket stadium to watch some Bollywood Aunty & Uncles in their late 40's sway & do show-off's. People come to watch IPL, expecting to watch cricket- the moment they realise it isn't sport...

  • Sala_BY on July 6, 2010, 10:10 GMT

    Very good article.. Administrators should think about the fans. "a more pleasant viewing experience, half-decent food, cold beer and adequate transport to and from the ground" if they can get a pleasant Viewing experience that is more than enough. I watched RCB Vs CSK and RCB Vs KKR in MAC Bangalore. I paid Rs 1100 each to watch both the games standing. Do the franchisees sell more tickets than they are supposed to? who controls this.. I have seen many games where the spectators watch the game standing throughout cant they make proper serial numbers to allocate seats.

  • 6x_CS_King on July 6, 2010, 10:02 GMT

    Sensible article, this article states the difference between india and other countries .....this is not only about cricket stadium's maintenance ..everything else ..

  • CricFin on July 6, 2010, 9:43 GMT

    I did not read many articles or 1 article blalming EPL for Englands failure in World cup why ? I thing those writers make money about writing EPL where as cricket writers do not make money about writing club cricket.

  • on July 6, 2010, 9:25 GMT

    This complements another article I read on cricinfo about falling crowds in the Friends Provident T20. 151 T20 games? You've got to be kidding.

  • muthurajk on July 6, 2010, 8:29 GMT

    Excellent article. It s true that IPL is not cricket, It is purely a business. I dont think IPL has done anything good to indian cricket. I used to be a Die - Hard fan of indian cricket but i have been loosing my interest. I did not follow IPL 3 with the same interest with which i followed IPL1. I preferred watching football over asia cup because of substandard cricket matches. the team that consisted of india's next generation of players could not beat zimbawe. how pathetic it is?. players have to put their nation before IPL clubs. now indian cricket is talked for all the Mess in the administration and not for the cricket itself. if i am a true indian cricket fan then i will be fooled. i do not want to get fooled. i do not expect india to win the 2011 worldcup. if we see the quality of cricket displayed by English, Australians and South Africans, India is nowhere close to that. Believe me guys, india is not going to win the 2011 worldcup. i dont think it will make it to semis even

  • CricFin on July 6, 2010, 8:01 GMT

    Players and fans like IPL end of story.Cricket writers donot like IPL.Cricket writers are worried about their jobs because of club cricket.Indians are not going care about other countries club cricket (same for others ) which indirectly affects revenue of cricket writers.These cricket writers write in many international dailies where they donot find market for x country club cricket in Y country.

    Cricket could not extend to many countries before IPL which means something wrong with the game .

    I donot see many cricket writers writing about Ranji cricket .Why ? If you really care about Indian cricket follow ranji cricket as you do for IPL. I want to see many players playing cricket in many tournaments rather than limiting cricket to few stars who have occupied seat 6-7 national team spots for many decades.I like Tiwari of Mumbai Indians who may or may not get a chance in National team .

    >>>That scarf is the boy's life."

    Do not they have adverts in that ?

  • on July 6, 2010, 7:39 GMT

    Duh! The IPL is obviously not cricket ... where has everyone been all this time? Maybe tomorrow one of the cricket gurus will wake up and realize that T20 is not cricket. Better be soon, before all's lost!

  • MTrain on July 6, 2010, 6:50 GMT

    Comments are overwhelming positive in comparison to the comments left in Gideon Haigh's recent articles, even though Dileep's arguments concerning: - the actions and motives of cricket administrations; and - negative impact the IPL has on world cricket, are consistent with Gideon's thoughts....

    Great to see people aren't attacking the poster this time...

    :)

  • Sala_BY on July 6, 2010, 6:47 GMT

    Very good article.. Administrators should think about the fans. "a more pleasant viewing experience, half-decent food, cold beer and adequate transport to and from the ground" if they can get a pleasant Viewing experience that is more than enough. I watched RCB Vs CSK and RCB Vs KKR in MAC Bangalore. I paid Rs 1100 each to watch both the games standing. Do the franchisees sell more tickets than they are supposed to? who controls this.. I have seen many games where the spectators watch the game standing throughout cant they make proper serial numbers to allocate seats.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on July 6, 2010, 5:54 GMT

    Cricket is clearly a spectator sport and such a sport definitely needs to connect with the audience as a prerequisite. A 100 + years of cricket hadn't brought about mass appeal the way the last 20 years have. And this isn't solely 'cos of technology and the increased abilty to view / comment on a live event from back of beyond or from your office! This is about connection with the audience. The ODI formats and the T20s did that well - to begin with. However, it's the mixing of glamor, the mixing of international players in a format such as the IPL - that have propelled mass interest. And when that happens, money comes in! It's not because of "commercialisation" that mass interest has come about. "Commercialisation" is seen as a dirty word, by people who are clueless about how to make money work for you and who think money grows on trees. Fan interest is kept up when there is "excitement" and a "contest". Finally, it's entertainment, with every fan seeking his money's worth!

  • Rahul_78 on July 6, 2010, 5:30 GMT

    What a line about Bill Shankly dileep. Good administrators always respect the fans because their passion is the basic fundation on which major success of the game is built. In our case feels like the scarf has been dumped in the dustbeen long ago...!

  • Psram on July 6, 2010, 5:25 GMT

    Great Article Dileep.I donot want to watch IPL if its not cricket and cricket is not about the players who are playing it.

  • on July 6, 2010, 5:12 GMT

    Most writers sometimes praise IPL and sometimes list out why it's bad. I myself am no different. I think it could be such a good thing for Indian cricket, and cricket in general if it was cricket in first place. People with power are rarely even aware of rules of the game, let alone be fans. It's hard to stop them from being in ruling positions. Fans can become disoriented and not watch a game or tournament or a player or a team, but what about journalists and commentators? I never see them taking a stand except may be Michael Holding. If you love test cricket or any real cricket and don't like cricket as business why not refuse to cover or report on such events? Will journalists do that or their contract won't permit them to pick and choose just like Harsha Bhogle's contract says, he will have to cover all cricket played in India and hence IPL too?

  • D.V.C. on July 6, 2010, 5:10 GMT

    Good article. I feel I can add a subtle point though. You mentioned fans and players, but to me it seemed that the only players you were thinking of were those who play in front of the camera, in the big time as it were. The game belongs to everyone who takes to the field on a weekend or afternoon, all of us are players too. No matter what level you play at, the rules should be the same, we all want to play the same game. Often I get the impression that administrators want to adjust the rules and conditions to make more of a spectacle, conveniently forgetting about the rest of us playing away from the cameras.

  • kabubaku on July 6, 2010, 4:56 GMT

    As much as I would like to agree with you, Dileep, I think that person from the franchise was absolutely right. To those franchise owners, IPL is exactly that - a business. Now that doesn't mean that IPL is business for everyone. For the fans, it is entertainment. For cricketers, it is a platform to perform on. It is only reasonable that the owners protect their business interest first and then think of the other aspects - cricketing and otherwise. If the workload on the players is too much, they can always opt out. If the fans are not being catered to, they can stop going to the stadiums. The bottom line is that the business includes high quality cricket and fan involvement in order for it to be successful. In times to come, we will see some expansion of the league and that is not such a bad thing for cricket or for the fans. Don't forget that even for the players, IPL is as much cricket as it is a means of earning livelihood, which in simple words, means business.

  • on July 6, 2010, 4:21 GMT

    This article really catches the feelings of real cricket lover...will somebody in the administration please realise that selling this great game to these multi-nationals will really be catastrophic

  • hattima on July 6, 2010, 4:11 GMT

    It is really sad that BCCI's attitude towards the game is much like that franchise owner, that is why we get 6 weeks of IPL and two-match test series. I can't even remember when did India play a 5 match test series for the last time, and yet every 3 or 4 match test series India played in the 'recent' past has been full of passion and drama that none can dream of from a game of IPL. From the very beginning IPL has precisely demonstrated the shortcomings of the game of 20-20, where there is no loyalty or commitment to the team, no urge to perform consistently, no chance of epic performances. The much-maligned Dalmiya, with all his fallabilities, genuinely loved the game. Nobody can accuse the present crop of that crime! Anyhow, thanks to Dileep for this article, as it kind of explains to me why I am getting so disinterested in cricket nowadays, despite India being on top and all that.

  • Sekhar_S on July 6, 2010, 4:07 GMT

    Ever since the inception of the IPL,I have been part of many a coffee table discussion on how it provides a rare opportunity for a Ranji player to rub shoulders with a legendary international player and how the quality of cricket is high(am not saying 'highest').Calling the franchise official's statement as a slap is an understatement.It is equivalent to dung.It is clear that the needs of genuine fans--better pitches and better spectator facilities--will not be addressed.A leading national daily has a Kingfisher sponsored column written by an I-know-nothing-about-cricket lady TV presenter where she waxes eloquent about her sponsor's IPL team players.That this column finds itself adjacent to a Steve Waugh column makes it terrible.

  • venkatesh018 on July 6, 2010, 3:48 GMT

    Excellent article Dileep. We the fans of true cricket, still hold on to the belief that such articles will bring atleast some change to the mindsets of the people running the game in india.

  • nikhilpuri on July 6, 2010, 3:30 GMT

    Brilliant article. Couldn't have hit the nail on the head more. Test cricket has been going on for 140 years now and has withstood two world wars, Kerry Packer and countless other trials. No reason for proper cricket (test and 50 overs included) to not withstand the IPL. I think the message of this is twofold: 1) Don't forget what the fans want to see - an exciting contest 2) Let's not get carried away by the fake glitz and glamour of the IPL. International cricket is the bread and butter of the game.

    I can't remember the first or last time i enjoyed an IPL moment. I do, however, remember when Bhajji hit the winning runs in the 3rd test in Chennai, when Sachin maed 2 consecutive hundreds in Sharjah, when Klusener almost stole the semifinal against Australia...and when Bevan won the game with a four off the last ball against West Indies. That's cricket...not the IPL.

  • on July 6, 2010, 3:29 GMT

    awesome article....it is a pain to watch any match in the stadium in india...but does anyone care abt the people who come into the stadiums ?? they need to...else, there would not be anyone to watch....without anyone to watch, there would be no sport...

  • GavtheKiwi on July 6, 2010, 3:28 GMT

    That the IPL isn't cricket is not really news. The IPL is an unashamed advertising wagon, that is testified to everytime and overexcited commentator yells "DLF Maximum!!" I can't stand it - it's all the encouragement I need to turn over to the golf.

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  • GavtheKiwi on July 6, 2010, 3:28 GMT

    That the IPL isn't cricket is not really news. The IPL is an unashamed advertising wagon, that is testified to everytime and overexcited commentator yells "DLF Maximum!!" I can't stand it - it's all the encouragement I need to turn over to the golf.

  • on July 6, 2010, 3:29 GMT

    awesome article....it is a pain to watch any match in the stadium in india...but does anyone care abt the people who come into the stadiums ?? they need to...else, there would not be anyone to watch....without anyone to watch, there would be no sport...

  • nikhilpuri on July 6, 2010, 3:30 GMT

    Brilliant article. Couldn't have hit the nail on the head more. Test cricket has been going on for 140 years now and has withstood two world wars, Kerry Packer and countless other trials. No reason for proper cricket (test and 50 overs included) to not withstand the IPL. I think the message of this is twofold: 1) Don't forget what the fans want to see - an exciting contest 2) Let's not get carried away by the fake glitz and glamour of the IPL. International cricket is the bread and butter of the game.

    I can't remember the first or last time i enjoyed an IPL moment. I do, however, remember when Bhajji hit the winning runs in the 3rd test in Chennai, when Sachin maed 2 consecutive hundreds in Sharjah, when Klusener almost stole the semifinal against Australia...and when Bevan won the game with a four off the last ball against West Indies. That's cricket...not the IPL.

  • venkatesh018 on July 6, 2010, 3:48 GMT

    Excellent article Dileep. We the fans of true cricket, still hold on to the belief that such articles will bring atleast some change to the mindsets of the people running the game in india.

  • Sekhar_S on July 6, 2010, 4:07 GMT

    Ever since the inception of the IPL,I have been part of many a coffee table discussion on how it provides a rare opportunity for a Ranji player to rub shoulders with a legendary international player and how the quality of cricket is high(am not saying 'highest').Calling the franchise official's statement as a slap is an understatement.It is equivalent to dung.It is clear that the needs of genuine fans--better pitches and better spectator facilities--will not be addressed.A leading national daily has a Kingfisher sponsored column written by an I-know-nothing-about-cricket lady TV presenter where she waxes eloquent about her sponsor's IPL team players.That this column finds itself adjacent to a Steve Waugh column makes it terrible.

  • hattima on July 6, 2010, 4:11 GMT

    It is really sad that BCCI's attitude towards the game is much like that franchise owner, that is why we get 6 weeks of IPL and two-match test series. I can't even remember when did India play a 5 match test series for the last time, and yet every 3 or 4 match test series India played in the 'recent' past has been full of passion and drama that none can dream of from a game of IPL. From the very beginning IPL has precisely demonstrated the shortcomings of the game of 20-20, where there is no loyalty or commitment to the team, no urge to perform consistently, no chance of epic performances. The much-maligned Dalmiya, with all his fallabilities, genuinely loved the game. Nobody can accuse the present crop of that crime! Anyhow, thanks to Dileep for this article, as it kind of explains to me why I am getting so disinterested in cricket nowadays, despite India being on top and all that.

  • on July 6, 2010, 4:21 GMT

    This article really catches the feelings of real cricket lover...will somebody in the administration please realise that selling this great game to these multi-nationals will really be catastrophic

  • kabubaku on July 6, 2010, 4:56 GMT

    As much as I would like to agree with you, Dileep, I think that person from the franchise was absolutely right. To those franchise owners, IPL is exactly that - a business. Now that doesn't mean that IPL is business for everyone. For the fans, it is entertainment. For cricketers, it is a platform to perform on. It is only reasonable that the owners protect their business interest first and then think of the other aspects - cricketing and otherwise. If the workload on the players is too much, they can always opt out. If the fans are not being catered to, they can stop going to the stadiums. The bottom line is that the business includes high quality cricket and fan involvement in order for it to be successful. In times to come, we will see some expansion of the league and that is not such a bad thing for cricket or for the fans. Don't forget that even for the players, IPL is as much cricket as it is a means of earning livelihood, which in simple words, means business.

  • D.V.C. on July 6, 2010, 5:10 GMT

    Good article. I feel I can add a subtle point though. You mentioned fans and players, but to me it seemed that the only players you were thinking of were those who play in front of the camera, in the big time as it were. The game belongs to everyone who takes to the field on a weekend or afternoon, all of us are players too. No matter what level you play at, the rules should be the same, we all want to play the same game. Often I get the impression that administrators want to adjust the rules and conditions to make more of a spectacle, conveniently forgetting about the rest of us playing away from the cameras.

  • on July 6, 2010, 5:12 GMT

    Most writers sometimes praise IPL and sometimes list out why it's bad. I myself am no different. I think it could be such a good thing for Indian cricket, and cricket in general if it was cricket in first place. People with power are rarely even aware of rules of the game, let alone be fans. It's hard to stop them from being in ruling positions. Fans can become disoriented and not watch a game or tournament or a player or a team, but what about journalists and commentators? I never see them taking a stand except may be Michael Holding. If you love test cricket or any real cricket and don't like cricket as business why not refuse to cover or report on such events? Will journalists do that or their contract won't permit them to pick and choose just like Harsha Bhogle's contract says, he will have to cover all cricket played in India and hence IPL too?