Events and people that shaped the game

No. 48

The IPL and Lalit Modi

The map of Indian and international cricket was reorganised when a previously unknown BCCI official came up with a franchise-based Twenty20 model

Jayaditya Gupta

August 28, 2011

Comments: 27 | Text size: A | A

Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Lalit Modi after an emergency IPL meeting, Mumbai, March 22, 2009
Movie stars made it into cricket with the IPL © Associated Press
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2007

September 13, 2007. Months before, India had crashed out of the World Cup in the Caribbean and then lost a one-day series to England. The World Twenty20 had just begun in South Africa but India were reluctant participants in an untested format. The mood was despondent, with one question uppermost on everyone's minds: What is cricket's future in India?

The answer came that Thursday evening when the BCCI unveiled the Indian Premier League. The concept's audacity - a franchise-based T20 league involving cities instead of states or provinces, and featuring the world's top players, held over six weeks in April-May - was nothing, however, compared to what followed.

India won the World Twenty20, thanks to a mishit by Pakistan's Misbah-ul Haq. It cemented the format in the public imagination, and shortly afterwards the BCCI announced a slew of deals that would break all financial records. The TV rights deal brought in more than $1 billion, followed by the auction of franchises for $700 million. The first players' auction, in February 2008, saw MS Dhoni signed up for $1.5 million for a six-week season - or around $100,000 per game. Two players would top that figure the next year.

The IPL proper began with Brendon McCullum hitting 158 off 73 balls, then and now the highest ever individual Twenty20 score. When the cricket flagged, Bollywood took over - three franchise owners were A-listers, a fourth joined in season two - with cheerleaders as a backing ensemble.

Above all was Lalit Modi, who morphed overnight from a provincial player - ESPNcricinfo's report on the IPL launch had this coy reference: "Lalit Modi, a BCCI vice-president, was named as its convenor" - to IPL Commissioner. He had the style and swagger to match that title, swinging the deals, schmoozing with the stars, scrapping with the media and every perceived opponent.

Soon the IPL became the event, the one every cricketer, umpire and commentator wanted to be part of (it helped that two competitors, the ICL and the Stanford 20/20, fell swiftly by the wayside). Cricket's fixtures calendar was tweaked, with no little help from India's position as the centre of cricket's economy.

The IPL's official stand that international commitments came first for its players didn't stop top cricketers from putting pressure on their own boards to reschedule games that clashed with the league. In 2009, West Indies captain Chris Gayle arrived for an England tour two days before the first Test; West Indies themselves were replacements for Sri Lanka, who pulled out of their England tour so that their top players could play in the IPL. The next year Gayle was one of three top West Indian cricketers to refuse an annual contract with his national board, relying instead on the security of the IPL and other leagues.

By this time, though, the IPL was in meltdown; Modi's enemies were now within the BCCI, which was alarmed at his rapid rise and apparently limitless powers and possibilities. His downfall was swift and dramatic, beginning officially at the prize distribution ceremony following the 2010 final, and his exit sparked the unravelling of the league as we knew it. At the time of writing many of those multimillion-dollar deals are in litigation or under the scrutiny of India's tax police. The 2011 tournament, sans Modi, was decidedly lacking in hoopla, and TV viewership figures took a hit.

And yet the IPL inspires. Australia are to kickstart their own franchise-based Twenty20 league later this year, clearly modelled on the IPL; the Champions League Twenty20, co-owned by the boards of India, Australia and South Africa, is a more stable but no less rich version of its half-brother. These tournaments - and others will follow - have thrown up the possibility of the Freelance Cricketer, who will ply his trade across borders and without any national affiliation.

Misbah's mishit was truly the Shot Heard Around The Cricket World.

Jayaditya Gupta is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo in India

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Posted by RohanMarkJay on (August 29, 2011, 21:47 GMT)

IPL is here to stay. Unless the Indian public lose interest. The big money will ensure top cricketers will call an early retirement to their test careers, so they can be an actor playing their part in a colourful bollywood cricket movie extravaganza called the IPL. They can enjoy after their IPL career is over the riches that being part of well paid cricket tournament can do to their futures. Just ask Chris Gayle and Lasith Malinga about that!

Posted by   on (August 29, 2011, 21:05 GMT)

So Indian cricketers did all the hard work and everything but they won because of a mishit by Misbah ...What a joke by the author ...It was a collective effort by some of the best players in T-20 cricket. ALso, franchise based T-20 is not Lalit Modi's brainchild since the whole idea was conceptualized and implemented by ICL years before IPL ..Get your facts correct Jayaditya and pls learn a thing or two about cricket ..

Posted by Lovekush on (August 29, 2011, 17:17 GMT)

The IPL is being criticised by one and all. Rightly so. In retrospect, it wasnt such a bad idea, given the fact that, at the end of the day, its still a game of cricket. The IPL could have been a platform for the growth of the game, had cricket been the only commodity in its scheme of things. It isnt cricket anymore, due to immense commercialization(bollywood, glamour, cheer leaders etc.,) which has transformed it into entertainment. Entertainment does not help produce test match cricketers. If the IPL had stuck to cricket alone, the game wouldnt be in such a mess, either in India or elsewhere

Posted by merchant187 on (August 29, 2011, 16:47 GMT)

IPL is worths its money... Money always takes over any sports in all around the world.. Like in NBA stars or players leave there city to play for anoother city so they make more money or have a shot at winning. TEST cricket is boring and I have never seen the stadiums full as in IPL... or even ODI.. and just because of one or 2 bad series and that to a TEST series can't degrade a team. In the end IPL is where the FANS are happy ... owners are happy and the players are happy... T20 cricket is the best time pass... dont have to spend 5 days to see result in a draw...lol.. Anyways i am sure lot of ppl enjoy IPL and ODI's more than boring test matches.

Posted by Balumekka on (August 29, 2011, 15:14 GMT)

Ouch! a mishit went that far? I mean to give birth to IPL and through that to ruin Indian cricket? Misbah must be a proud man by now!!!!!!!

Posted by Pritt32 on (August 29, 2011, 10:23 GMT)

The IPL is a quick money scheme and is about playing glamour shots. Test cricket is a different ball game, as it about endurance and mental strength. IPL should have been the lowest priority of Indian cricket, as the team had a busy schedule ahead and needed to prepare in English conditions and West Indies tour delayed at a later date. I think it would be an even contest and save the embarrassment of whitewash series against England. I was expecting an exciting series, but it turned out one sided as India had no answers and lost the appetite to play test cricket through injuries of key players and over-exposure to unnecessary IPL in a critical point. They should been rested after the world cup in preparation for key tours. I hope key lessons can be learned and there is no repeat of future performances like this. I prefer test cricket than IPL, as it about quality and competiveness. IPL is ruining Indian cricket and it has to be addressed.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (August 29, 2011, 3:31 GMT)

INDIA WON THE WORLD CUP BECAUSE OF A MISHIT BY MISBAH . THIS IS THE BIGGEST JOKE I HAVE EVER HEARD . IF THAT'S THE CASE THEN I THINK AUS WON 1999WC BECAUSE OF MISUNDERSTANDING B/W DONALD &KLUSENER , ENGLAND WON THE 2005 ASHES BECAUSE OF A POOR DECISION BY UMPIRE IN EDGABUSTON TEST , INDIA WON THE 1983 WC BECAUSE OF A POOR SHOT BY RICHARDS .ANYBODY WHO WATCHED THAT T20 WC CAN NOTICE INDIA WAS THE YONUGEST SIDE . BATSMEN LIKE GAMBHIR , YUVRAJ , UTHAPPA WERE FORM AND IN OUR BOWLING RP SINGH WAS IN FORM OF HIS LIFE AND FIELDING WAS ALSO GOOD .

Posted by nuwanr on (August 29, 2011, 1:50 GMT)

Yes India did really bad in England!

Posted by FAB_ALI on (August 28, 2011, 17:51 GMT)

MOST INDIAN PLAYERS NEEDED TO LOOK AFTER THEMSELVES AFTER THE WORLD CUP TRIUMPH BUT THEY PLAYED IN IPL AND PICKED UP SEVERE INJURIES. WHICH RESULTED IN THE TEAM BEING WEAKENED AGAINST ENGLAND AND THEY LOST 4-0. I STILL COULDN'T BELIEVE IT HOW CAN WE LOSE 4-0. IT HURTS!

Posted by FAB_ALI on (August 28, 2011, 17:47 GMT)

INDIA PUT IN SO MUCH EFFORT TO WIN THE WORLD CUP AND AFTER ACHIEVING THAT LANDMARK SUCCESS OUR CRICKETERS DESERVED REST FOR 2 MONTHS AT LEAST. BUT IPL CAME IN AT THE WORST POSSIBLE TIME AND THE 4-0 LOSS TO ENGLAND IS THE RESULT.

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Jayaditya GuptaClose
Jayaditya Gupta Executive editor, India A football lover and a veteran of the print media, Jayaditya sold out on both to join the crazy gang at ESPNcricinfo. It's a decision that often left him wondering whether he'd stumbled into the wrong room by mistake, till he realised that many of his colleagues switch the TV channel from cricket to football when they think nobody's watching. He does have cricketing heroes: Viv Richards and Steve Waugh share space with Steve Coppell (the player and manager) and Bryan Robson (the player!). Having covered two world cups (the football version) and a Champions League final, he can now set his sights on fulfilling other ambitions - including the launch of "Footinfo". Watch this space for more details...

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