Mark Nicholas
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Former Hampshire batsman; host of Channel 9's cricket coverage

If it's April, it must be the IPL

Once, spring meant county cricket, but there's no denying the centre of the cricket world has moved east since

Mark Nicholas

April 4, 2013

Comments: 51 | Text size: A | A

Indian actor Katrina Kaif performs at the IPL opening ceremony, Kolkata, April 2, 2013
The IPL: Packer to the max © BCCI
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In just a moment or two the county cricket season begins. This used to be a big deal but, as if we needed a metaphor for change, we have it with the start of the sixth Indian Premier League - a tournament that consumes the second-largest nation on the planet in a way that seemed inconceivable less than a decade ago.

The best players in the world once arrived in bitter England, swapping sandals for socks and discovering the cable knits of many county colours to be their closest ally. Now they head to India. It is a franchised game that pays the bucks and Kolkata Knight Riders who grab the headlines from Daredevils and Super Kings, Warriors, Indians and Royals. No more spring days in Nottinghamshire, Sussex or Somerset, and to think, from those three counties alone, English cricket had Hadlee and Rice, Imran and Le Roux, Richards and Garner. House bands to die for but no one cranking up the volume. Quel domage! We cling on in England, truly thinking that three different 18 county competitions starting in early April is the way forward. It's quaint, it's okay but it's not the 21st century.

My first full county season for Hampshire was 1978. We turned up for pre-season training on April 1st and huddled around a lone dressing-room radiator until the coach came and told us which net to bowl in. You hoped for Barry Richards or Gordon Greenidge, balancing the desire to see them up close against the certainty that fielding off your own bowling would be a brutal experience. Lunch was a pint and a pie at the local pub and in the afternoon another bowl at the gods or fielding practice under absurd weather conditions. By 7 o'clock you were back in the pub, and at closing time it was home for a bowl of cornflakes - unless it was Friday, of course, and then you could afford a curry. I always figured there was more to Indian food than the Kohi Noor in Totton, Southampton, rather as I suspected that India wouldn't depend on Sunil Gavaskar forever.

In those days the "capped" and "uncapped" players changed in separate dressing rooms, or separate buildings at Hampshire. We were issued with a blazer, tie and cap along with a couple of sweaters. That was pretty much that. The pay cheque was £21.50 per week - and the 50 mattered. On occasion, promotion would come in the form of 12th man duties for the 1st XI. The upsides were a stint at third man while a senior player had a rub down, and signing a few autographs - mind you, the shrill of one teenager offering his mate "10 of these for a Richards or Greenidge" soon crashed us back to earth. The downside was running the baths for the bitten old professionals - "Too hot kid, much too cold kid"; fulfilling the close-of-play drinks list correctly - "Where's my lager and lime youngster?"; and paying for your own dinner alongside tight buggers who logged every spare rib as if it were on the commodities exchange.

 
 
The IPL is shamelessly commercial, outrageously kitsch, variously gifted, and sometimes even surprisingly exciting given the gulf between good player and bad. That's entertainment!
 

There was no training as such. In the winter months we ran and played football and squash to keep reasonably fit. Then from the start of April we played cricket, indoors and out. We were all bowling fit because we did so much damn bowling. There were some injuries but not many. Playing through a bit of pain was a given; you wanted the job. We helped run the scoreboard on big games and ran the covers on and off the outfield if rain came. We had a ball, really, and dreamt of playing for Hampshire and England. But it was an old pro's world, not a place for dreamers. There was no enlightenment.

And then suddenly, as if transported into the 1980s by the Starship Enterprise, we had sponsors, kit, tracksuits, trainers and a gym. We had direction and support and something close to equality. This seismic change in approach was out of Australia and the Caribbean, where first World Series Cricket and then a phenomenal West Indian team modernised the idea of professionalism by taking it to mean the pursuit of excellence, not the inherently selfish grind of earning a quid on the production line. Come the revolution.

Kerry Packer had done the trick, shaking the game's core. There was more money and the action was high quality. Briefly, county cricket became a nerve centre and anyone who was anyone wanted a piece of it. Allan Border played a couple of seasons for Essex and thought it a better standard than the Sheffield Shield at that time. The banned South Africans came pretty much en masse, as did most of the champion West Indians and the talented Pakistanis. India's finest cricketers, Gavaskar and Kapil Dev, were an even greater coup than Richard Hadlee and Martin Crowe from New Zealand. And Border wasn't the only Australian. Incredibly, Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson had a crack as well. We listened and we learned from these amazing cricketers. Around the world, lovers of the game knew the teams we played for and followed the scores, and the resulting success and failure, by the media of the moment. These were county cricket's halcyon days, when Hollywood's lust for Ian Botham was matched by the nation's crush on David Gower. Not that the administrators knew it. The county game hasn't changed much, and in full summer swing it still has merit, but the people have changed. The stars have gone, east.

Like it or not, their world is the IPL today and you don't have to love T20 to see the IPL in all its glory.

Give 'em the old razzle dazzle
Razzle dazzle 'em
Give 'em a show that's so splendiferous
Row after row will grow vociferous
How can they hear the truth above the roar
Razzle dazzle 'em
And they'll beg you for more

It is an utterly seductive affair, I have it on now as I write and the commentators can barely contain their highly strung vocals. If only it were just background but David Warner is a whizz and Mahela Jayawardene is a joy. I'm hooked. There are greats and legends and icons and veterans. It is shamelessly commercial, outrageously kitsch, variously gifted, and sometimes even surprisingly exciting given the gulf between good player and bad. That's entertainment! And Kerry Packer had nothing to do with it and it has nothing to do with county cricket. It is where we are, every April, in IPL land. And that applies to the cricketers of Nottinghamshire, Sussex and Somerset because they wish they could bin the beanies and the mittens and the warm-up matches against the Universities and be there too.

Mark Nicholas, the former Hampshire captain, presents the cricket on Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in the UK

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Posted by Mirkhan786 on (April 8, 2013, 18:13 GMT)

Test is best, but you can't ignore IPL. Where else would you see all the star players together in a domestic competition? Since ODI and T20 cricketers are financially better off and cricket has become more fun for the players and fans. Different formats need different sets of skills and fans are able to see more talented players on show

Posted by   on (April 7, 2013, 21:34 GMT)

What ever people may say about ipl but the truth is that ipl is a complete entertainment. County cricket is still good and players want to play in it but just think about how many uncapped players get fair amount of money in it? This is 21st century and IPL has created its own position in world sports!

I just enjoy watching cricket and when anyone watch it, they expect entertainment.

Accept the reality.... there is no point criticizing IPL

Posted by jay57870 on (April 7, 2013, 0:27 GMT)

Mark - London Olympics 2012 were billed as the "greatest show on earth"! The Queen received a Bafta for her "most memorable Bond girl" stunt at the Opening Ceremony! Yes, that's entertainment! So why not IPL Cricketainment? Forget Kerry Packer. Welcome Kate Perry: She kicked off IPL 2012 with Hollywood & Bollywood on the same stage. You see IPL is the Great Equaliser! Where icons & no-names, haves & have-nots, old & young share the same dressing-room! Where participants from all corners aspire for a piece of the "commonwealth"! Where old foes (Sydney-Gate '08) hug each other: Symmo & Bhajji! Where 9 of that Oz XI made good in restoring the "spirit of cricket" alongside the Indians! Where Ponting, Johnson, Tendulkar, Harbhajan, mentor Kumble of MI beat Dhoni, Hussey of CSK in a cliff-hanger today! Where the real KP in a knee-brace flew in from cold London - for a hot DD-RR contest at Kotla - declaring: "I'd rather be playing in this brilliant tournament"! Is ECB listening, Mark?

Posted by wake_up_india on (April 6, 2013, 1:08 GMT)

The reason why the IPL does not produce high quality cricket has less to do with the T20 format and more to do with Indian pitches, which are heavily biased in favor of the batsman. If the IPL ever graduates from being an Indian entertainment event to a serious aspect of world cricket, its venue ought to be be rotated among the major cricket playing countries. An IPL match played at the MCG and Perth, or Lords and Headingly, will be quite a different affair than one played at Eden Gardens and the Chinnaswamy stadium.

Posted by crickketlover on (April 5, 2013, 21:03 GMT)

Where can you see Sachin and Ricky open the innings? Only in IPL! Long Live both Sachin and Ricky - two truly great cricketers of modern era.

Posted by JG2704 on (April 5, 2013, 16:54 GMT)

@Cpt.Meanster on (April 4, 2013, 22:57 GMT) To be fair , many of those comments are in response to folk who come on threads where IPL is a side issue and slate the domestic sides and the national sides for not releasing THEIR players during THEIR domestic seasons and look down their noses at THEIR domestic tournaments because they may have ambition but not the realistic finances to match IPL. Yes IPL is a huge tournament but that does not mean to say that it has to appeal to everyone

Please publish this time. There is nothing of offence or untrue.

Posted by Cricketfan11111 on (April 5, 2013, 12:06 GMT)

Playing T20, cricketers invented new awkward looking shots like scoops and reverse sweeps and other yet to be named shots because they couldn't afford to play dot balls. The balls which are not in their zone need to be put away at the risk of loosing their wickets since there are plenty of batters to last 20 overs. Now that we are used to seeing those shots, they don't look awkward any more. You need talent to master these shots .

Posted by   on (April 5, 2013, 11:09 GMT)

The old world charm of county cricket would still be infectious for the purists = your rendering of the same was super soulful - nevertheless you also appreciate IPL - thus being in the present yet reminiscing the past. Good article to read..

Posted by JG2704 on (April 5, 2013, 9:34 GMT)

Surely both formats (Test and T20) both have different plus points and different minus points and it depends on your particular preference. Also in places like India a T20 international would attract a bigger crowd than a test match and in Eng and Aus a big Ashes test would attract bigger crowds than a shorter formats so surely it's as much a geographical/culural thing.

I must admit when I watch IPL at times it goes very slowly. Obviously when we see the tight finishes like in yesterday's game it's different but are the IPL games played at a slower pace than other T20 games or did it just seem that way to me?

Personally I think non IPL fans should accept or ignore the competition and IPL fans should enjoy the format but not try and force their views accross as gospel and accept that certain countries/domestic teams have their own priorities which do not involve IPL.

Posted by SamRoy on (April 5, 2013, 4:18 GMT)

IPL is not pure cricket. It's a combination of cricket, mind games, slogging power, bowling accuracy and entertainment (though I am not entertained by anything apart from the cricket). It's very skewed in favor of the batsman with heavy bats and less than 60m boundaries and extremely flat pitches (except in Eden Gardens and sometimes in Delhi and Chennai where ball doesn't come on to the bat) and doesn't allow a contest between bat and ball. Batting is all about big-hitting, innovation or good placements and bowling is about yorkers, well disguised slower balls and mystery spinners. If you play conventional cricket and play the bowling on merit you will lose your team the match and will be dropped very soon. Ditto holds for the bowlers. Powerful hitters making merry of sub-standard bowlers. It's not aesthetic cricket for the connoisseur (just like any other domestic T20 league) but it's cricketing entertainment featuring some of the world's best cricketers

Posted by   on (April 5, 2013, 2:17 GMT)

Incredible post comparing IPL with County Cricket

Posted by blitzNM on (April 5, 2013, 2:14 GMT)

well these t20 leagues are actually making the cricket-as-a-whole interesting. T20s have many pressure situations which makes players learn how to deal with it and how to keep the temperament. Yup ! it is sometimes spoiling the technique, but thats what makes tests interesting For eg. If gambhir had to take out a session or two with the tail to draw a match....wont it create drama and doubt in viewers mind that will he be able fight out the out-swinging deliveries? will he poke outside again & get-out? these things will attract viewers more. I feel its good for cricket that tests now end in 4 days due to these t20s . i mean nowadays with TVs and technologies who would like to spend 5 days in sun...whereas you can check the score in 2 mins or watch highlights. 50 years ago these things were not possible. AND don't tell me that devilliers dilscooping or reverse-sweeping a 145kmph dale steyn delivery for a six or MSD smoking a malinga-yorker to the stands are not skills !

Posted by vish2020 on (April 4, 2013, 23:42 GMT)

@porki_liars love your name mate. Me and all the my american friends are travelling to watch the IPL Final. IPL is a part of cricket which is modern and it's great. People can hate as much as they want, but there is lot more jealousy involved in that hate. Oh well, haters will do thier job. Go India. Go Mumbai Indians

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (April 4, 2013, 22:57 GMT)

I also feel that many non-Indians and a FEW Indians are giving the IPL an unnecessary increase in popularity ratings. What these people don't understand or realize is that the more negative comments they spew towards this MAGNIFICENT league, the more curious and intrigued new comers to the game become. T20 is the ONLY way cricket can be advanced globally. Test cricket is ONLY fit to be played in good old England and Australia where it seems, they still continue to live in the 20th century. Well that's up to them, the IPL is here to stay and it's the BEST league for T20 on the planet. More than that, it provides good cricket, quality entertainment, excitement and happiness to ordinary Indians. Of course the IPL is a global brand which is also watched by many non-Indians from time to time. Many expat Indians also watch the tournament from far away locations. I am a fine example, sitting here in Canada glued to my t.v. set. Test cricket has history, and that's about it. Nothing more.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (April 4, 2013, 22:50 GMT)

@landl47: You are nothing more than a self-righteous, right-wing, test cricket supporter. Please come out of the cave ! T20 is the BEST format of cricket and the TRUE entertainment package. Test cricket has ONLY history on its side, nothing more. I can't even remember what happened in the Border Gavaskar Trophy from back in 2008. I also can't exactly remember each and every delivery in test cricket. So these excuses of T20 being unmemorable is a rabble. It's time England and the ECB accept the reality and send their good players to the IPL for a unique and AWESOME experience. Then they can play all the test cricket they want. What the ECB is doing right now is nothing but what the BCCI are doing in reverse. It's also a kind of bullying and nullifying the players' right to play T20 cricket and earn a decent living.

Posted by   on (April 4, 2013, 22:09 GMT)

I will pick test cricket anyday over IPL, but that doesnt mean IPL isnt FUN. Just today, the match between Mumbai and RCB went up and down the last 5 overs, it was a lot of fun to watch. Yes I wasnt sitting their rooting for either of them, but it was good fun cricket. Disappointing if Kerion Pollard was gonna hit a four to win or not was fun.

Tendulkar and Ponting opening?? now that is something amazing.. along with Murali Bowling, I was amazed!

Look IPL will never be as heartening as watching your own country play, but seeing good competitive cricket, is always fun. and its not jsut good for the fans, these cricketers are making more money than their entire year in the domestic season of their respective countries.

I just think if you love cricket, its get exciting to watch different players together.

So to all the IPL HATERS. dont watch it! no one forces you. Wait till Bangladesh vs ZIM... (trust me IPL is much more exciting than watch Bangladesh vs ZIM)

Posted by   on (April 4, 2013, 20:40 GMT)

The IPL is hugely important to the future of cricket because it can be packaged,commoditized and branded.When the owners of the Ultimate fighting championship are drooling over the prospect of luring some of this audience (18--35),one knows that it has been a success.Sure its not test cricket but test cricket would not survive without the shorter format.In many ways the IPL is more exciting than International t20 cricket since the 20 over format seems to shoe in better with franchise cricket something akin to English football and Super Rugby.Warner has had a good start to his test career having cut his teeth in the shorter format as well as Watson rebuilding his career a few seasons ago.Thus there is a spillover into the longer format as well.There really cant be any negatives from a playing viewpoint.Its cricket as im sure the forefathers Grace,Trumper,Ranjitsinjji,Jessop and gang would have played it-attacking,versatile,innovative and big crowds.AMAZING ARTICLE by Mark Nicholas .

Posted by   on (April 4, 2013, 19:56 GMT)

Well, thank God we havemoved with the times! I love the Beatles, but that was 50 years ago also. Cricket, like everything, must evolve, and reflect the nature of the society in which we live. In an age of smart phones and instant gratification how can test cricket be the focus of the sport? Test cricket is inherently designed for a slower paced society with too much free time. Who has the patience for that? Just tell me who won! As for quaint old county cricket, well... it just simply didn't keep up! It needed more glitz, more excitement, new rules to suit new lifestyles of fans, and most of all, more money infused into it. They missed their opportunity. Now it's time to move on. To India!

Posted by Nadeem1976 on (April 4, 2013, 19:10 GMT)

England needs to accept the change and needs to send their players to play in IPL. T2020 is future of cricket and i believe ECB needs to open their eyes now otherwise they will play whole county season without a single high profile player in future. It's all give and take philosophy where england needs to participate in IPL and then other countries will send their players for county cricket.

Cricket is not dead , it's just england is stubborn .

Posted by   on (April 4, 2013, 14:40 GMT)

It's not a cricket....... IPL killed the spirit of game.........It's a money game

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (April 4, 2013, 13:43 GMT)

@landl47, as per cricinfo statsguru, 2085 test matches have been played till now. How many thousands of performances could you recollect from those test matches? And how many of Murali's 800 wickets do you remember? So, with a history of more than a century, what all you could come up with is just 5 numbers relating to 5 players! How memorable is that! Comparing a test match 400 or a test match century with a t20's unbeaten 37 runs is desperate, conveniently ignoring that Gayle, Hussey, Gilly scored jaw-dropping centuries, half-centuries and 40s. Format is short and so are the requirements for a mile-stone! Yes, 40 runs is a mile-stone! May be not you, but many remember AB's onslaught on Steyn and Steyn leaving many batsmen clueless; and the excellent fielding exploits of Steve Smith, Pollard...you name a facet of the game, you got it right there in IPL; and the history is just 5 years old!

Posted by ProdigyA on (April 4, 2013, 13:18 GMT)

Travelling half way around the world to watch Sachin Tendulkar in action in Hyderabad on May 1st. If its called IPL, i love it.

Posted by   on (April 4, 2013, 13:18 GMT)

@ALl..... All the best for your County season. I do not follow it but since its cricket, its good. I like Test cricket the most, however I cant understand how people say IPL has sub standard cricket...... For those people watch your so called Standard cricket and be happy. Let us and others enjoy IPL . Then we will be back to Champions Trophy...

Posted by spintl on (April 4, 2013, 13:09 GMT)

I love IPL 20/20.. it is quick , non-stop action, and the game is decided in 3 hours. Test cricket was designed in that way long time back as people needed entertainment and Test cricket provided that over 5 days. But today we live in a fast-paced world and time is of essence. People do not have the patience to sit and watch Test cricket over 5 days. Pretty soon, the cricket administrators have to rethink this scenario when they will have a few hundred (outside India) spectators watching Test cricket at the stadiums and they would losing money. Besides, watching Test cricket over 5 days and not producing result, that's a bore, it is like watching paint dry!!!In the long run, Onedayers will replace Test Cricket and 20-20 will replace onedayers. Even Onedayers are becoming a bore & predictable nowadays..

Posted by naresh.partani on (April 4, 2013, 13:04 GMT)

Yes it's April and emotions run high for people who support and also for those who are opponents of the IPL. I don't agree with the idea that IPL will help build the Indian team for the future. The results in Australia & England and India's inability to win a T20 world cup post IPL are testament of this fact. IPL is purely driven by commercial needs and off course sometimes there is good cricket (to make it clear not useful cricket). IPL is place where every catch is a superb catch, every trivial moment a moment of success; it is a place where glamour & bollywood stars are more important than cricket. But IPL is here to stay & BCCI should consider making it a shorter tournament. This way it is easier to create a window & allows best players from around the world to participate. It's up to the BCCI to decide how they want to handle this situation, whether they want to spend all their resources in trying to make the IPL its flagship event or make an effort to build a strong Indian team.

Posted by   on (April 4, 2013, 13:03 GMT)

while Indian players playing for different franchises do not become enemies, players from other countries become their team mates to share their joy . This is bound to improve the relationship between players of different countries ,which will be good for the future. Knowingly or unknowingly,this aspect is the best outcome of IPL. But to be honest ,the cricket world has to be thankful to the now defunct ICL for initiating the idea.

Posted by x-sl-boy on (April 4, 2013, 12:33 GMT)

Great article as always Mark

Posted by   on (April 4, 2013, 12:15 GMT)

Agree with gibbons. We wtch it here in India but I really dont thin the cricket world as a whole...just like we dont give a damn about the Big Bash and the myriad other leagues round. The IPL is a money tree that drops big bucks and of course the stars will cone. But.a week after its done, does one even remember who won it?

Posted by MAK123 on (April 4, 2013, 11:40 GMT)

Ahh the good old days. While you recollect all those days when there was barely any money in the game, still yet, don't you have a heart-ache when writing these lines? Times have changed so have hearts. How money does cruel things to one's spiritual and emotional wellbeing

Posted by   on (April 4, 2013, 11:24 GMT)

The IPL is a marketeers dream, however, as far as C R I C K E T goes, it's not even close to being the sport I was raised on loving. I should imagine that being in the ground for one of the matches is pretty exciting, but I reckon you can count on one hand the number of balls you'd actually watch or the number of game-changing events. Looking at it on TV is, frankly, painful; it seems that the broadcaster has rounded up the most tabloid of presenters to commentate on the games, provided them with a list of superlatives and given them a minimum number to use per minute. Not for me.

Posted by   on (April 4, 2013, 11:03 GMT)

I hate it. It's not cricket. But if we see Ponting coming out to open the innings with Tendulkar today... how can that be bad in any way?

The increased number of matches help improve the facilities, help people to go experience the stadium atmosphere.. And contrary to popular belief it doesn't stop traffic in India like most people believe. Also, the BCCI has been very smart in not allowing the Indian players to participate in any other league... so unlike other countries, Indian players play in 'leagues' for just a month in the year.

As for the money, why are we okay with Cricket being one of the most under-payed international sports? Other sports too can use a bit of glamour.

Give it a month. For the crowds, for the money, for the glamour. For the growth of the sport. Then enjoy eleven months of cricket.

Posted by   on (April 4, 2013, 10:47 GMT)

I hope county cricket will stay as described in this article for many many years to come. I would certainly enjoy the experience post retirement. But right now I am watching the IPL!!

Posted by gibbons on (April 4, 2013, 9:45 GMT)

And I would MUCH rather be watching county cricket.

Posted by gibbons on (April 4, 2013, 9:42 GMT)

Good read - I'd love to hear people's reflections on the 'real' impact of the IPL in countries outside India - nobody in my social circles are watching/talking about it at all - I know the players seem keen (I imagine paychecks help), but I don't believe it's quite the world stopping show it's painted as.

Posted by soumyas on (April 4, 2013, 9:05 GMT)

nice article but the one on page2 by Alex Bowden is hilarious...;)

Posted by   on (April 4, 2013, 8:49 GMT)

My season ticket for Trent Bridge arrived in the post last week and I wouldn't swap it for tickets to every IPL match this season and all future seasons. I want to watch cricket, not CrIcKeT!!!oMg! All sparkly shiny stuff and no substance. It's as manufactured as a Simon Cowell pop band and equally as nauseating. I have no problem with it existing, but lets not try to pretend its comparable to the heyday of the real game of cricket.

Posted by Wasid_United_11 on (April 4, 2013, 8:20 GMT)

Amazing article, agreed cricket has moved east but we still need good englishmen like you to remind us every now and then about the good and the gloarious old days of cricket

Posted by Muthu_Team on (April 4, 2013, 8:10 GMT)

One of the best articles I have read with respect to IPL. I don't line IPL but that doesn't mean I don't watch it as Mark said ...

Awesome writing Mark, Hope you are here in the commentary tooo...

Posted by   on (April 4, 2013, 8:09 GMT)

@ landl47. how can you compare score of 400 with score of 37*. Its like comparing a airplane with car. People may not remember kohli's 37 not out but they certainly will remember Gayle's blitzing Innings and Malinga's yorkers. They will never forget the feeling of watching Two legends Sachin and Ponting Playing for the same team while facing Muttiah murlidharan.

Posted by Sir.Ivor on (April 4, 2013, 8:02 GMT)

The English county season was all charm and tradition. As an old timer I recall how visiting teams would start the first class part of their tour at Grace Road with Worcestershire and so it would go on till the Tests started. Usually at Edgbaston or Nottingham. The point is that the ECB would ensure that visiting teams would be well prepared before they played England. The game has changed because of money and the need to inject enthusiasm in the generations much after us.Since their lives were all about razmatazz the IPL has become an alluring brand. I wish the real side of cricket would embrace this change in thinking and play alongside. IPL needs a window because being the shorter version which yields big money for the lucky ones it also produces some breath taking cricket. I loathed 20/20 when it started. But I realise now that it has the allure of a game which we are addicted to.Besides cricket had become ugly thanks to sledging and such things.IPL can help mightily there as well.

Posted by Harlequin. on (April 4, 2013, 7:50 GMT)

i watched the IPL for the first couple of seasons and was quite excited at the prospect of seeing test stars mixed up into different teams playing with rivals and against team-mates. But overkill is a powerful force and 150 replays of the same game, on the same pitch, just with different coloured shirts made it start to feel like a chore. There have been a couple of players who make the matches different (Gayle, Malinga, Narine) but 3 watchable players out of ~100 is a pretty low percentage. Mr Nicholas is absolutely correct in what he writes, it is commercial, it is glamour, it is seductive but the best thing about it for me is that it has shown me that I am old enough and ugly enough now to see past a facade and judge something on the substance, of which this tournament has very little.

That is without talking about the obvious effects T20 is having on young batsmen and spinners!

Posted by   on (April 4, 2013, 7:27 GMT)

@landl47: Most rightly said. I agree with you 100 percent

Posted by D-Ascendant on (April 4, 2013, 7:17 GMT)

So last night was the first name of the IPL season, and I decided to tune in. I must have watched 20-25 minutes, but a substantial amount of that was spent thinking of the other things I could be doing with my time.

It's not that I didn't try to get involved -- I did -- but I eventually gave up in exasperation. Here was a mix of has-beens and never-will-bes, along with the odd *relevant* player, battling it out for... nothing. It felt so futile.

It's not that I'll watch Bang v Zim (well, OK, maybe the highlights) but at least that contest has the best players in their respective countries playing for national pride. Better than watching an unknown in a ridiculous purple shirt, and wondering what the point of it all is.

Posted by landl47 on (April 4, 2013, 7:00 GMT)

Some people don't see the downside of the IPL and to be frank this article doesn't really help. Let me try and point out what it is.

The best bowler in the world is Dale Steyn. In the IPL he bowls a maximum of 24 balls a game, with most of the fielders saving runs. If he gets 0-10 he's had a great game.

In 10, 20 or 30 years, are today's young spectators going to look back and say "Remember that 0-10 Steyn got against Mumbai Indians? He was really hard to score off that day, every one of his 24 balls was right on a length"?

No, they aren't. Nor are they going to remember the stunning 37* Virat Kohli slogged off 15 balls. These are miniscule achievements in a condensed form of the game in which every aspect of cricket is diminished. The legendary achievements are BIG- Lara's 400, Laker's 19 wickets in a match, Tendulkar's 51 test centuries, Bradman's 99.94 test average, Murali's 800 test wickets.

Would you swap those for 24 balls in a game?

Posted by   on (April 4, 2013, 6:55 GMT)

Yeah, it's greatest show on earth in sports. Believe me it allures people from various parts of the world glued to their television to watch this Mega event IPL. It ropes in lot of money and the cricketers around the world want to be part of IPL as it is a golden goose. Mark has writen nicely about this gala show and he means it. You can see lot of foreign players after retirement and their first choice is IPL. Foreign legends lead the team like Ricky leading Mumbai, Gilly Punjab, Sanga Hyderabad, Mahela Delhi and Angelo Pune. It's pure entertainment in shortest time with result. No doubt we are missing big names like KP, Clarke and others. Still it will be full of fun. Thanks to BCCI & ICC also as FTP also ensured slot for IPL almost every year.

Posted by sshadab on (April 4, 2013, 6:54 GMT)

For all the IPL and T20 bashers and especially for those who say country comes first. I totally agree that country comes first, but you also need to understand that only 11 players take to the field and 15 make it to a tour, so you where do you go to earn your bread and also showcase your skills.... T20 tournaments... We have all the rights to trash it, but i believe that T20 is a boon for all those talented folks to make some moolah while showcasing their talent. Even in this type of cricket also performance is a criteria, and if they do not perform they perish. As much as i enjoy Test and ODI, i feel that tournaments such as IPL and Big Bash etc is a boon for non-elite cricketers and should be encouraged.

Posted by LillianThomson on (April 4, 2013, 6:17 GMT)

I couldn't care less about the IPL. I'm glad it helps enrich the players, but as a Kiwi I believe that Rutherford or Boult will develop far more through a season of county cricket than by having their techniques eroded in a domestic T20 league.

So I'm glad that the likes of McCullum are filling their wallets in India, but I don't consider that game on dead pitches without slip fielders to be any closer to cricket than it is to polo.

Posted by batman_gothamcity on (April 4, 2013, 5:49 GMT)

Great artistry of writing by mark ,good description of old day counties .cricket is also changing to the style of US MLB

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Mark Nicholas A prolific and stylish middle-order batsman for Hampshire, Mark Nicholas was unlucky never to have played for England, but after captaining his county to four major trophies he made his reputation as a presenter, commentator and columnist. Named the UK Sports Presenter of the Year in 2001 and 2005 by the Royal Television Society, he has commentated all over the world, from the World Cup in the West Indies to the Indian Premier League. He now hosts the cricket coverage for Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in England.

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