April 8, 2011

A challenge for the IPL

Coming hot on the heels of the World Cup, will the fourth season be able to compel fans to shift their loyalties?
  shares 29

It is not yet five days, as I write this, since an assured India beat a spirited Sri Lanka in the world's premier tournament, which comes but once in four years and already so much has happened in the world. The IPL is upon us (Sholay one week, Deewaar the next?), an admirable duo have relinquished their positions in Sri Lanka, and a sprightly septuagenarian has launched a mass movement against corruption in India. Truly, we live in a 24x7 world.

And to my great delight, Tendulkar's moment immediately after the final ended gave way to Dhoni's Cup a day later. It was as it should be, for Dhoni had led magnificently, used the resources he had very well, and didn't always worry about what he didn't have. He is a young man not afraid of criticism, backs his instinct (right most days, wrong on some) and has a wonderful ability of not rendering complex things that are essentially simple. Great leaders have that ability.

The spontaneous outpouring of joy showed the great power of sport to unite people. Suddenly people were singing the national anthem, looking at a flag with pride. India needed that. I have often said that cricket is merely a sport but on Saturday night it transcended that. A group of young men played honestly and with spirit, something older men in Indian public life had miserably failed to do. Even as the political class flocked to a cricket ground, the game did something they hadn't been able to do: bring cheer to a nation.

And so here's the question. Can this huge upsurge in feeling for a country be able to reconcile with support for a city? Over three years the IPL has managed to do that very successfully but never has it found a setting like it does this year. Can Dhoni and Gambhir of India be seen to be Dhoni of Chennai Super Kings and Gambhir of Kolkata Knight Riders (not even Delhi Daredevils!) so quickly? Can a tearful Yuvraj collapsing into Tendulkar's arms morph into Yuvraj of the Pune Warriors (not King's XI) against Tendulkar of the Mumbai Indians? Indeed, can the extraordinary success of the World Cup come in the way of the success of cricket's premier commercial property?

Or do we underestimate the fervour of the Indian cricket fan? For the alternative is that the fan so loves his/her cricket that he/she cannot wait for more. In much the manner that the success of Dabanng cannot come in the way of Band Bajaa Baraat. So will 8pm become an appointment slot again?

It will be interesting to see how India reacts, especially to the realisation that the players they thought belonged to them don't anymore. So fans of Gautam Gambhir will suddenly have to start supporting KKR, while the Deccan Chargers will have to come to terms with the fact that their favourite bowler, RP Singh, is now a Kochi Tusker and their best batsman, Rohit Sharma, a Mumbai Indian. It won't be easy and that is why I hope the auction we had in January is the last there will be.

It is going to be a challenge for the IPL, even if, inherently, it is a strong offering. I believe, though, that the IPL will overcome the challenge if it can be perceived as something quite different from the heavy, patriotism-driven cricket that the World Cup was. If the change of personnel can be looked upon as an actor replacing another in the same role. But challenges are not new to the IPL; they have been countered before and so you must wish it well; hope that chants of "Aala re" or "Korbo lodbo jeetbo" or even "Whistle podu" ring in the stadiums. The IPL has its place as much as the other forms do.

On a sad note, a cricket lover passed away this week. Trevor Chesterfield was a much travelled man, moving from New Zealand to South Africa, and made his home in Sri Lanka in his later years. People like him make our game richer with their enthusiasm.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY on | April 11, 2011, 15:44 GMT

    There was a talk recently on cricinfo with Harsha Bhogle ,Sambit Bal and others on intrusive advertising on tv.The constant barrage of ads and L-shaped popups only underscore the fact that Cricket has been reduced to a filler between the ads.The brain dead middle class has been reduced to eating salty popcorn and sipping extra sugary cola .Geoffrey Boycott talked about overkill and tournaments not being special anymore.Mahendra Singh Dhoni spoke about mental and physical exhaustion while talking to reporters in a recent press conference.

    The IPL is a cash cow for some but the current version of IPL is also witnessing audience fatigue.One can see it in the empty stadiums for some of the games.But our cricket board insists on playing because the tv rights have been already sold for enormous sums.They don't give a damn if their Delhi Dipsticks play the Mumbai Wankers or the Kolkata Cock Blowers in front of half empty stadiums.It remains to be seen how long this sad joke will go on.

  • POSTED BY enigma77543 on | April 11, 2011, 6:16 GMT

    India have a few important tours ahead of them against West Indies, England & Australia, & yet their players are exhausting themselves playing in a pointless tournament which is nothing but a cash-cow. I suppose Indian cricket-fans won't learn about how dangerous IPL is until their national players start falling dead left, right & centre.

  • POSTED BY on | April 10, 2011, 17:36 GMT

    Are the members of Indian cricket team game for IPL so soon after the mentally and physically grueling world cup? The BCCI is ruining the game in India by forcing cricketers to play too much cricket. What the Indian cricket needs is an overhaul, similar to the proposed Jan Lokpal bill; the tours/schedules should be drawn up by a committee that includes cricketers as well. The players should not be treated as bonded laborers, but in fact should have a greater say in the way cricket is run in this country.

  • POSTED BY sundarb on | April 10, 2011, 5:56 GMT

    WC 2011 is a nice peak to scale for this Indian team, but greater challenges lie ahead. A win against England in England, Australia in Australia would be even nicer. Sachin has never won a test series against Australia in Australia and South Africa in South Africa. Hope he gets to do that by next year.

  • POSTED BY evenflow_1990 on | April 9, 2011, 23:33 GMT

    A group of young men played honestly and with spirit, something older men in Indian public life had miserably failed to do. Even as the political class flocked to a cricket ground, the game did something they hadn't been able to do: bring cheer to a nation. - that was probably some of your best writing Harsha.

  • POSTED BY on | April 9, 2011, 12:19 GMT

    Indian lives on cricket, yesterday last ball finish was all that was all required to let people know IPL have started. Many more exciting Matches to come our way.

  • POSTED BY kuwupu on | April 8, 2011, 22:35 GMT

    To be honest Harsha i think time gap between two big events are really small. As cricket fan i still want keep replying that Dhoni in India's T-shirt and see that last ball getting in stands! Not so much as in Yellow t-shirt. i just think its very bad timing im still on hang over of WORLD CUP india winning over some state league which no doubt is good but if it was every two year would have been better than just every year and def not around some huge ICC huge event

  • POSTED BY cricketSB on | April 8, 2011, 18:22 GMT

    Harsha: It is more like SHOLAY for seven weeks and DEEWAR for the next NINE weeks.

  • POSTED BY WestIndies1987 on | April 8, 2011, 18:18 GMT

    I don't see what the big deal about this is because it happens all the time in football.Domestic and National teams are DIFFERENT.

  • POSTED BY on | April 8, 2011, 17:41 GMT

    @ B_Sameer_Kumar couldn't agree more. At least there should have been a 3 weeks gap. With all my admiration for our champs I don't want to see any one of them taking a break during West Indies or England tour due to fatigue. This was/is the best time for the same. And BCCI as usual your scheduling leaves everyone speechless!

  • POSTED BY on | April 11, 2011, 15:44 GMT

    There was a talk recently on cricinfo with Harsha Bhogle ,Sambit Bal and others on intrusive advertising on tv.The constant barrage of ads and L-shaped popups only underscore the fact that Cricket has been reduced to a filler between the ads.The brain dead middle class has been reduced to eating salty popcorn and sipping extra sugary cola .Geoffrey Boycott talked about overkill and tournaments not being special anymore.Mahendra Singh Dhoni spoke about mental and physical exhaustion while talking to reporters in a recent press conference.

    The IPL is a cash cow for some but the current version of IPL is also witnessing audience fatigue.One can see it in the empty stadiums for some of the games.But our cricket board insists on playing because the tv rights have been already sold for enormous sums.They don't give a damn if their Delhi Dipsticks play the Mumbai Wankers or the Kolkata Cock Blowers in front of half empty stadiums.It remains to be seen how long this sad joke will go on.

  • POSTED BY enigma77543 on | April 11, 2011, 6:16 GMT

    India have a few important tours ahead of them against West Indies, England & Australia, & yet their players are exhausting themselves playing in a pointless tournament which is nothing but a cash-cow. I suppose Indian cricket-fans won't learn about how dangerous IPL is until their national players start falling dead left, right & centre.

  • POSTED BY on | April 10, 2011, 17:36 GMT

    Are the members of Indian cricket team game for IPL so soon after the mentally and physically grueling world cup? The BCCI is ruining the game in India by forcing cricketers to play too much cricket. What the Indian cricket needs is an overhaul, similar to the proposed Jan Lokpal bill; the tours/schedules should be drawn up by a committee that includes cricketers as well. The players should not be treated as bonded laborers, but in fact should have a greater say in the way cricket is run in this country.

  • POSTED BY sundarb on | April 10, 2011, 5:56 GMT

    WC 2011 is a nice peak to scale for this Indian team, but greater challenges lie ahead. A win against England in England, Australia in Australia would be even nicer. Sachin has never won a test series against Australia in Australia and South Africa in South Africa. Hope he gets to do that by next year.

  • POSTED BY evenflow_1990 on | April 9, 2011, 23:33 GMT

    A group of young men played honestly and with spirit, something older men in Indian public life had miserably failed to do. Even as the political class flocked to a cricket ground, the game did something they hadn't been able to do: bring cheer to a nation. - that was probably some of your best writing Harsha.

  • POSTED BY on | April 9, 2011, 12:19 GMT

    Indian lives on cricket, yesterday last ball finish was all that was all required to let people know IPL have started. Many more exciting Matches to come our way.

  • POSTED BY kuwupu on | April 8, 2011, 22:35 GMT

    To be honest Harsha i think time gap between two big events are really small. As cricket fan i still want keep replying that Dhoni in India's T-shirt and see that last ball getting in stands! Not so much as in Yellow t-shirt. i just think its very bad timing im still on hang over of WORLD CUP india winning over some state league which no doubt is good but if it was every two year would have been better than just every year and def not around some huge ICC huge event

  • POSTED BY cricketSB on | April 8, 2011, 18:22 GMT

    Harsha: It is more like SHOLAY for seven weeks and DEEWAR for the next NINE weeks.

  • POSTED BY WestIndies1987 on | April 8, 2011, 18:18 GMT

    I don't see what the big deal about this is because it happens all the time in football.Domestic and National teams are DIFFERENT.

  • POSTED BY on | April 8, 2011, 17:41 GMT

    @ B_Sameer_Kumar couldn't agree more. At least there should have been a 3 weeks gap. With all my admiration for our champs I don't want to see any one of them taking a break during West Indies or England tour due to fatigue. This was/is the best time for the same. And BCCI as usual your scheduling leaves everyone speechless!

  • POSTED BY on | April 8, 2011, 17:33 GMT

    I am very proud of us winning the WC. I am a lot confused as to which team I should support. Being from Hyderabad, I would have obviously supported DC. The other day I was looking at the DC squad. To my surprise, there was only one Andhra player, and almost half of the squad comprised of Internationals. I am not sure if I need to support my city team, which has almost no native players, or look for a team like Mumbai or Chennai or Cochin, which at least have some of my favorite players. This is the reason I agree with Harsha's views on fan loyalty.

  • POSTED BY mogan707 on | April 8, 2011, 14:12 GMT

    An article rightly presenting the situation an average Indian is put in.After following all WC action,he needs at least two weeks of gap to get and watch another.A mention of movement against corruption is mentioned which is rocking Delhi(Daredevils)in particular and its waves felt all over India.And in the next week four states are going to elections of which TamilNadu(CSK),Kerala(Kochi Tuskers) and West Bengal(KKR) Elections will be keenly followed and hence the matches played there may not get much attention during that week.

  • POSTED BY wambling_future on | April 8, 2011, 13:06 GMT

    @Ali_Eorse: hahahahahaha..lol.rofl..."It is time for someone like Sreesanth or Harbhajan to take the leadership."... seriously Sreesanth !!!! haha...you are going on every article and writing the same stuff saying "dhoni should resign..sreesanth should takeover "...one of the best joke said unintentionally...!! lol..cheers..

  • POSTED BY Sameer-hbk on | April 8, 2011, 10:51 GMT

    The IPL now is like a a little ice cream after a great meal that was the best out there. And as an Indian fan, I cudnt care less who wins this edition... Yes, at some point in the IPLglitz, you are bound to get caught up and take a side, but at the end of the day whoever wins IPL4, i will be still smiling... Cos we are the WORLD CHAMPIONS.. I just hope players who need rest get it. Better yet, just auction IPL4 title.. I am sure SRK approves of the idea :)

  • POSTED BY santropy on | April 8, 2011, 10:45 GMT

    I think the Indian fans are matured enough to adore a player for his play and not for the place he comes from. Fans of Gambhir like him because of his play but not because he is from Delhi. Though the last 3 yrs may have created a sense of identity for a fan between a player and a city, the World Cup victory has instilled a sense of nationalism among all the Indians. So we are back to the perceptions such as 'Gambhir is an Indian' and not 'Gambhir is a Delhite'. So I think the World Cup evokes a positive feeling and spirit in us which ultimately helps us in embracing the players of our city, wherever they may come from.

  • POSTED BY on | April 8, 2011, 10:43 GMT

    @ Ali Erose HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA God u are hilarious

  • POSTED BY bluebillion on | April 8, 2011, 9:48 GMT

    There should be one IPL team call IPL Indians - comprising of the WC winning squad!!!

  • POSTED BY CricEshwar on | April 8, 2011, 9:01 GMT

    @Ali_Eorse Sreesanth for Captaincy? Even his family wouldn't approve of that..

  • POSTED BY on | April 8, 2011, 8:27 GMT

    The whole nation cherished the World Cup win together but now begins a entire new ball game altogether, the baby boy of Lalit Modi is here, but where's Lalit Modi forget him, IPL -4 begins and many of us who were cheering togehter will be on the opposite side, it's going to be fun this time around ,the auctions have created a balance in all the teams, interesting combinations to look out for,one time rivals Bhajji and Uncle Symmo in the same team,CSK captain's new look seems to miss Hayden a lot,Will Sreesanth have a go at all his team mates after the World Cup win? he may,the team mates who lifted Sachin will be wanting him not to perform,but all in all it's going to be a treat , Have fun guys.

  • POSTED BY arunrajaram on | April 8, 2011, 8:26 GMT

    Hi Harsha - Good article. I'm those die hard fans of the Indian team and especially sachin. But, this is IPL and I'm from Chennai, so I have not even a single doubt in my mind that I want Mumbai Indians to lose if they play against Chennai Super Kings. No disrespect to any team here, but I want my city to win :)!!

  • POSTED BY AdityaUpadhyay on | April 8, 2011, 7:26 GMT

    Pathetic setting of schedule of indian players. If the players will play in this manner & of this magnitude we will see fast bowlers retiring at 28 & batsmen retiring at 32. What is the point of exhausting players before important series like 20-20 WC, India tour of England & India tour of Australia.. God can only help Indian cricket

  • POSTED BY Sumeet.Gupta on | April 8, 2011, 7:20 GMT

    @Ali_Eorse....your comment resulted in the best laugh i had for the day. do you really think Sreesanth is a captaincy material? And why should Dhoni handover captaincy? He is just 30, has been tremendously successful and has lots of time in hand. S'kara retired because he's already 33 and may not be around for the next WC. Coming to IPL, yes i agree it is too soon. But isn't it all about money, honey?

  • POSTED BY eshwarmv on | April 8, 2011, 6:22 GMT

    Hi Harsha !! Even yesterday, I was watching the WC final along with my parents on Star Cricket for the third time. IPL 4 is going to start today. But the WC win, according to me, will generate a new, higher level of interest for THE GAME OF CRICKET. The reason obviously will be the members of the WC squad playing against each other. But, what really concerns me is that India have 2 IMPORTANT tours coming up. THE WI and ENGLAND tour. The latter will be A MASSIVE BLOCK BUSTER. The players do need to take a few games off during the course of IPL, in order to be mentally fresh for the above tours.

  • POSTED BY on | April 8, 2011, 6:17 GMT

    I disagree with the question put by Harsha here...theres no doubt that people are comfortable shifting support from national level to the city level..in fact IPL is not about the players, but cities, from what I have observed.. the only question according to me is " Will IPL sustain against the buzz created by the mass movement against corruption??".. And the person in limelight being Mr. Pawar in both cases..

  • POSTED BY on | April 8, 2011, 5:36 GMT

    I agree with Harsha about the auction - it is a process that destroys the integrity of the crucial bond in sport - the bond between club, player, and supporter. It may have been a necessary evil but it is not without a cost and the IPL need to find another system - maybe drafts, maybe trading - to proceed with, even if and when new franchises are added in the future.

  • POSTED BY on | April 8, 2011, 4:58 GMT

    Too soon. not enuf time to even savour the wc win. Pathetic timing , the board SHOULD have stepped in, giving the players rest for one and letting the public enjoy the status of world champions before quarelling with the neighbor...

  • POSTED BY ram_sachin on | April 8, 2011, 4:39 GMT

    As i write this comment .. I'm still reeling with the Hangover of the World Cup... the chants and the cheers.. still afresh in my minds.. Can't get the scenario of India lifting the WC out of mind.. whenever there is a talk about cricket.. IPL will not only test a TRUE cricket fan's loyalty .. but also how the spectator can cope up with "Cricket with no breaks".. Cheers to Indian Premier League

  • POSTED BY on | April 8, 2011, 4:11 GMT

    Why/how do you hope that the IPL auction we had in January is the last there will be ?

  • POSTED BY Ali_Eorse on | April 8, 2011, 3:08 GMT

    I think Dhoni should focus on IPL captaincy and resign from the ODI and Test. He should follow Ponting and Kumar. It is time for new leadership in India. It is time for someone like Sreesanth or Harbhajan to take the leadership.

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  • POSTED BY Ali_Eorse on | April 8, 2011, 3:08 GMT

    I think Dhoni should focus on IPL captaincy and resign from the ODI and Test. He should follow Ponting and Kumar. It is time for new leadership in India. It is time for someone like Sreesanth or Harbhajan to take the leadership.

  • POSTED BY on | April 8, 2011, 4:11 GMT

    Why/how do you hope that the IPL auction we had in January is the last there will be ?

  • POSTED BY ram_sachin on | April 8, 2011, 4:39 GMT

    As i write this comment .. I'm still reeling with the Hangover of the World Cup... the chants and the cheers.. still afresh in my minds.. Can't get the scenario of India lifting the WC out of mind.. whenever there is a talk about cricket.. IPL will not only test a TRUE cricket fan's loyalty .. but also how the spectator can cope up with "Cricket with no breaks".. Cheers to Indian Premier League

  • POSTED BY on | April 8, 2011, 4:58 GMT

    Too soon. not enuf time to even savour the wc win. Pathetic timing , the board SHOULD have stepped in, giving the players rest for one and letting the public enjoy the status of world champions before quarelling with the neighbor...

  • POSTED BY on | April 8, 2011, 5:36 GMT

    I agree with Harsha about the auction - it is a process that destroys the integrity of the crucial bond in sport - the bond between club, player, and supporter. It may have been a necessary evil but it is not without a cost and the IPL need to find another system - maybe drafts, maybe trading - to proceed with, even if and when new franchises are added in the future.

  • POSTED BY on | April 8, 2011, 6:17 GMT

    I disagree with the question put by Harsha here...theres no doubt that people are comfortable shifting support from national level to the city level..in fact IPL is not about the players, but cities, from what I have observed.. the only question according to me is " Will IPL sustain against the buzz created by the mass movement against corruption??".. And the person in limelight being Mr. Pawar in both cases..

  • POSTED BY eshwarmv on | April 8, 2011, 6:22 GMT

    Hi Harsha !! Even yesterday, I was watching the WC final along with my parents on Star Cricket for the third time. IPL 4 is going to start today. But the WC win, according to me, will generate a new, higher level of interest for THE GAME OF CRICKET. The reason obviously will be the members of the WC squad playing against each other. But, what really concerns me is that India have 2 IMPORTANT tours coming up. THE WI and ENGLAND tour. The latter will be A MASSIVE BLOCK BUSTER. The players do need to take a few games off during the course of IPL, in order to be mentally fresh for the above tours.

  • POSTED BY Sumeet.Gupta on | April 8, 2011, 7:20 GMT

    @Ali_Eorse....your comment resulted in the best laugh i had for the day. do you really think Sreesanth is a captaincy material? And why should Dhoni handover captaincy? He is just 30, has been tremendously successful and has lots of time in hand. S'kara retired because he's already 33 and may not be around for the next WC. Coming to IPL, yes i agree it is too soon. But isn't it all about money, honey?

  • POSTED BY AdityaUpadhyay on | April 8, 2011, 7:26 GMT

    Pathetic setting of schedule of indian players. If the players will play in this manner & of this magnitude we will see fast bowlers retiring at 28 & batsmen retiring at 32. What is the point of exhausting players before important series like 20-20 WC, India tour of England & India tour of Australia.. God can only help Indian cricket

  • POSTED BY arunrajaram on | April 8, 2011, 8:26 GMT

    Hi Harsha - Good article. I'm those die hard fans of the Indian team and especially sachin. But, this is IPL and I'm from Chennai, so I have not even a single doubt in my mind that I want Mumbai Indians to lose if they play against Chennai Super Kings. No disrespect to any team here, but I want my city to win :)!!