David Hopps
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UK editor, ESPNcricinfo

England's vexed problem with the IPL

Can't love it, can't quite ignore it, and the fact that it is pitted against county cricket only confuses matters further

David Hopps

April 19, 2013

Comments: 68 | Text size: A | A

Eoin Morgan attempts a reverse-sweep, Kings XI Punjab v Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2013, Mohali, April 16 2013
Eoin Morgan chose the IPL over first-class cricket. Many fans in the UK aren't as clear about their choice. © BCCI

An Indian friend of mine has expressed concern about our general well-being over here in the UK. He senses that when it comes to the IPL we are psychologically confused. If we are not quite bereft, there is ample evidence to suggest we are ridden with angst.

The impression he has is that when an average England cricket fan is asked something as innocent as "Is there anything you would like from the shop dear?" we are likely to say: "A bag of sugar, some toothpaste and… don't talk to me about the IPL, dammit." Clearly he thinks we are in a bad way. It is time to summon a doctor. Or at the very least, a response.

I am not entirely sure if my friend imagines our psychological torment arises from giving the IPL more attention than an essentially trivial Indian T20 tournament deserves, or because he thinks we are in a perpetual state of self-denial, singing as 10CC did long before T20 became a gleam in a marketing executive's eye, "I'm not in love, so don't forget it, it's just a silly phase I'm going through."

But it would be impolite not to give this thesis some attention. It may uncover psychological issues about the IPL that for many in the UK are best kept hidden. If it will unleash an army of demons, I fully understand. If so, look away now.

My own IPL has so far been unedifying, although not for the want of trying. Every time I turn on ITV4, Hyderabad Sunrisers seem to be playing, and, as the last time I went to Hyderabad another good friend was almost electrocuted in the media box, they do not have persuasive claims as my adopted team. I don't have an adopted team. I have tried, I promise you I have, but I don't like to fake it.

In my IPL, Ishant Sharma has bowled most of the overs, Sanga always gets about 15, and the commentators occasionally hold interviews with one of the slips while the bowler is in his delivery stride. The last one I find unforgivable; a demeaning of the game. I also find the Sunrisers' kit pretty hard to forgive, a drab grey colour last favoured by the Chinese communist party. It has been like watching the bits cut out of the highlights show.

Is that last paragraph bitter and twisted? Does it arise from repressed love for something wonderful or excessive interest in something trivial? This self-analysis is more difficult than I thought.

It is tempting to suggest that IPL 6 behaves - appropriately enough - like a six-year-old. It seems forever on the verge of crying out: "Look at me, daddy, look at what I can do." And so we look, and we smile, even though we have seen the trick a thousand times. The IPL longs to feel unique, grown up, and thinks it will conquer the world. It has youth, energy, ambition, and sees the world through its own needs and its own needs alone.

But when IPL 6 shouts "look at me" it is not looking at England. The IPL cares only about India - and gathering enough good overseas players to fill its quota of four "foreigners" per side. It cares so little about England that, nonsensically from our perspective, it is scheduled at a time of year when, by and large, England players cannot take part. That being so, it is entirely natural that even those of us in England who quite like the IPL resent it at the same time.

For IPL lovers in England, it is the party that we don't really have an invitation to. Eoin Morgan feels like a gatecrasher. Luke Wright hasn't even played yet. He is the one standing in the kitchen, looking for someone to talk to. So far he would be better at Sussex. Imagine if Morgan is unexpectedly required by England's Test side against New Zealand next month. Very soon, much to the frustration of Kolkata Knight Riders, one of the batting stars of the tournament (English bias may be creeping in here) will soon be summoned home. How mad is that?

Just as ill-judged is India's exclusion of Pakistan players. We are aware of the history; we have had a taste of extremism ourselves. But bilateral sporting relations between India and Pakistan have been resumed, and to exclude Pakistan players from the IPL seems grossly unfair: short-term convenience put above a deeper commitment to the health of the global game. Compared to that, to omit England's players merely seems to be an issue of clumsy scheduling.

According to the 2011 census, there are more than a million people in England with Pakistani antecedents. They, too, observe a noisy, self-confident party to which they have not been invited. The tournament that proclaims it is hosting the best players in the world does nothing of the sort.

There are two more conflicting reasons why England is confused about the IPL. (My friend, I am surprised to find that sub-consciously I am beginning to accept your thesis.) The first reflects well on England, the second rather better on India.

The survival of England's professional circuit is a little miracle. It attracts modest crowds, yet a larger casual interest than many admit. The huge interest in ESPNcricinfo's county scorecard service proves that. It supports 18 teams, offering rewards to the average county professional to the tune of around three times the UK's average annual wage. It works alongside England's coaching network in identifying and developing international talent. It has a wonderfully rich history - many historians would claim that the Championship is in its 150th year, a fact that predictably has passed entirely unnoticed. We resent anything that threatens to undermine it.

And the IPL, like it or not, undermines this delicate ecosystem. Even without the involvement of most top England players, the IPL's gaudy attractions - helped by its presence on English free-to-air TV - does have an appeal, particularly among younger fans. A generation ago, cricket-mad teenagers might have bought Playfair Cricket Annual and studied Derbyshire's batting averages. Now a proportion of them are more inclined to look up Mumbai Indians stats online. The IPL does not mind this one jot and why should it? When did the English Premier League ever care about the Bundesliga?

It is tempting to suggest that IPL 6 behaves - appropriately enough - like a six-year-old. It seems forever on the verge of crying out: "Look at me, daddy, look at what I can do." And so we look, and we smile, even though we have seen the trick a thousand times.

A few English observers, wishing to ally themselves with the rich and powerful, have taken up this theme, indulging in facile comparisons between IPL and county cricket. When we read the ridiculous pitting of T20 in India against Championship cricket in England, and the implication that a choice must be made between enjoying one or the other, we become angry at the superficiality of it all. Dave Hawksworth expressed this frustration brilliantly. I urge you to read it. I cannot express it better.

But the IPL has a lesson for England. It is a lesson to which these days we have become ever more accustomed. Unlike India, cricket in the UK has always been a distant second to football as the nation's favourite sport. But even allowing for that, the glamour of the IPL is a reminder of our weakening economic power, of the sense that we are a nation in decline. While the IPL parades its power, England gets a glimpse of how we used to be.

We staged one of the great Olympics and we still have Premier League football (albeit surrendered to foreign ownership), but football makes things worse. It is to Premier League football to which our media remains irredeemably wedded. It is Premier League football that restricts English cricket's ability to implant its own populist T20 tournament. It would take queues several miles long at Lord's for a domestic T20 match to change that even a little. As for the IPL, outside ESPNcricinfo and ITV4, it barely warrants a mention.

In England, we can tell ourselves that the IPL's economy is based on smoke and mirrors, we can console ourselves that we hold deeper truths, that our desire to protect the future of Test cricket is one example among many of our desires to uphold the greater good, that on a huge range of cricket issues we hold the moral high ground. It is a classic English position to take. We can tell ourselves - and we do, because our history and traditions give us the arrogance to do so - that we can guide cricket through dark days.

But the fact is that England's own T20 competition is seen by many as a failure. While IPL holds sway among T20 fans, our own version is being rethought and revamped ahead of a relaunch next season. As yet there is no confidence that it will achieve what we are capable of - the second-most successful T20 tournament in the world.

We are a nation laden with debt, confident in our principles, less confident in our ability to finance those principles. We feel, as we always have, that we can educate the world, but too many of us laze around feeling the world owes us a living. The danger exists that some of the England players we carefully foster through our enlightened spirit of communalism could potentially turn on the system that made them what they are and agitate for their right to maximise their earning potential and play in the IPL. Rightly or wrongly, this encourages a lurking sense of betrayal.

My friend, perhaps we are in psychological torment after all. We should keep faith in our history, and we should not be afraid of the IPL's quick fix. But we are in a war of ideas and we are not confident about our allies. Whether we know it or not, when we watch the IPL, it is our fears about our own future that trouble us.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (April 22, 2013, 16:26 GMT)

The article sums up the author's mind-set - confused. This is a non-issue. IPL has done so much good to cricketers and fans alike. 1) The respect and friendship that players across the countries now have for each other is unparalleled. 2) It made players' life more secure with the salaries they are getting paid. 3) Lesser players, domestic and overseas, can make a living. 4) This is the biggest event that has brought families together (especially fathers coming home quickly and staying with children for the entire summer). 5) The money has trickled down to the poorman who is now earning more than he could ever dream. 6) The list goes on and on....

Wonder when and how test cricket benefited human beings as a whole? Greater good of human beings is far greater than looking after the greater good of test matches. Come out of your bitterness. This is no dark age of cricket or test cricket. This is the golden age. Dark ages are gone. SA with lots of IPL players is leading in test cricket.

Posted by Meety on (April 22, 2013, 2:37 GMT)

@IndianSRTfan on (April 19, 2013, 14:16 GMT) - I am speaking from the viewpoint - that without a designated off season for Oz players (say March to September, not inc Ashes tours) & the fact that 20/20 workload is not helpful for Test loads (scientifically proven), the IPL sitting smack bang in the "off season" is partly responsible for Oz bowling injuries. This would also include the Champ League. This is all avoidable particularly with centrally contracted players. So I suppose you are right to say it is not the IPLs fault (re: Ozzy injuries) - as nobody holds a gun to the cricketers heads & force them to play. I am taking it from a point that the money on offer means that whilst it operates - it is a scheduling reality for players & hence causes an environment where injuries are increased. We have far more injuries to National players now then than we did 8yrs ago.

Posted by YS_USA on (April 21, 2013, 0:48 GMT)

British players may feel left out of IPL riches, but not many of them will make it to the IPL. Mostly, some good British players will replace average Aussies. One alternative for UK is to play weaker teams during May without their top starts. IPL matches are so fast that you forget what happened, who did what and when. On the top of its fast action packed drama, most of the games are nail biters, won or lost during the last two overs. Luckily, they are repeated 24 hours and we can watch them again and again.

Posted by JustAnotherCricketFan on (April 21, 2013, 0:47 GMT)

Sorry Mr Hopps but your article is not very good. I tried to read through all of it before passing my judgement, but to be honest, I zoned out many times, I was enraged other times, but most importantly, it was confusing and not a very good read. Unfortunately, I have read all of it but I don't understand the point of this article. I have heard good things about Eoin Morgan before, and have seen him in action this IPL, he is one of my new favourites, my favourite team is CSK for MSD n team but if KKR was to win, I would only be happy cos Eoin was in it. He is doing really well, and I would be very angry with ECB if they call him up during IPL out of spite. He is definitely a star and KP, Jimmy Anderson and others would be too if it would work out better, but its not like they are sitting on their bums like Pakistan players missing out on good opportunity because of unfortunate reasons. They have enough cricket to keep them busy

So dont be hating on IPL! :)

Posted by   on (April 20, 2013, 22:26 GMT)

I don't understand the ambiguity towards IPL. As an Indian i must say that it is not the IPL which is ruining cricket but the ICC. What is the point in playing two limited overs formats of the game? From a commercial POV, the ICC has to push T20's and every 'real' cricket fan knows Test cricket is the ultimate form of the game. The solution is simple - scrap the 50 over format. It is kind of redundant at this point. Quality over quantity. I mean the standard of cricket is pretty low these days primarily because of the workload. There are no world class fast bowlers(Steyn is an exception) and the lack of quality batsman is alarming.

Posted by JG2704 on (April 20, 2013, 19:59 GMT)

@S.Anand on (April 19, 2013, 19:00 GMT) I don't see many English fans moaning about IPL at all. We only talk about IPL on these threads. Yes a few of us (myself included) would like to see how our top T20 players do in IPL but if you asked Notts fan if he'd rather see Lumb and Hales playing for Notts or an IPL franchise or a Middx fan if they'd prefer to see Finn or Morgan playing for Middx or an IPL side it would be the former every time. The Aus BBL is slightly more interesting to English fans as more Eng players are released for that and more get picked . Some Eng people like IPL and some don't but I don't reckon there are many people who (although they watch/enjoy some IPL) get passionate about it.

Posted by   on (April 20, 2013, 9:27 GMT)

I really don't understand the point of this article. Some of the points I do understand, about IPL being money-oriented. But that has been mentioned in numerous articles and it is hardly original. So what is the point of this article?

And as for prestige in IPL, isn't it a no-brainer that prestige comes with history and tradition. This is the 6th year. I am not a great T20 fan but credit needs to be given to the organisers for managing to run this for this long. People forget that when it started, every year was like - will it happen or not? Now it is taken a bit for granted which is how it should be.

Posted by Motobu on (April 20, 2013, 7:09 GMT)

This is the first year I have decided to give the IPL a go. Being English the only team that stood a chance of being my adopted side were the Sunrisers, uncontested underdogs that certainly would stand no chance of progressing to the latter stages of the tournament and would therefor ensure my viewership would not be unduly extended. That they currently sit at the head of the table after 7 games clearly demonstrates my keen ability to pick a loser.

Yes there are inherent flaws in the IPL: bloated, gauche etc etc and most importantly of all.. it just isn't cricket!

Though whilst I will never err from this perspective, I'm going to enjoy shouting at my TV for however long Dale and his teammates can keep churning out remarkable victories.

Whatever you think about IPL/T20, surely no-one can deny the enjoyment to be experienced by a game won with a hat-trick!

Posted by   on (April 20, 2013, 4:51 GMT)

The only thing that is vexing about the IPL to the English players is the fact that they have been unable to financially gain from it. Don't think for a moment that any cricket fan (or player) in either England or Australia gives two hoots about the IPL, they don't even have it on television in Australia at all, not even on pay TV.

Posted by oztentayshus on (April 20, 2013, 4:23 GMT)

I basically agree with David Hopps. It seems to me that any T20 game is contrived. It's too easy for the batsmen to hit boundaries and the concept of hitting a six, which used to mean something, is now taken for granted. And the general hoopla surrounding the game seems to be a way of substituting for real excitement generated by the game itself, which is missing. Only one thing I disagree with David. The word "thesis" is a document in support of a tertiary qualification. I think the word you are looking for is "theory".

Posted by chirpi on (April 20, 2013, 2:44 GMT)

I do not understand the point this article is trying to make. very confusing...

Posted by Andre2 on (April 19, 2013, 22:13 GMT)

I think the issue is simpler: why do you want a normal English fan to support a team in India with which he (she) has no link ? And it is not because a few English cricketers will play in the IPL that the English fans will support an Indian team simply because an English cricketer is playing for it ! It will happen with cricket as it is happening with football. Some English footballers are playnig in French or Italian or Spanish or Turkish teams, and yet nobody is interested to know how those English footballers are playing, and to know more about their respective "foreign" team is performing !

Posted by bford1921 on (April 19, 2013, 21:45 GMT)

English and Pakistani players are upset over losing an income stream they may think lesser players are able to take advantage of. The IPL is for India, and without English players holds no interest for me, but that is fine. I follow county cricket, but due to work cannot attend many days play, but that too is fine. Test cricket is the pinnacle of the game, it is where great players make there name and where it is hardest to succeed, but happy to watch T20 if it is on the TV. Not sure what the contest is from, but there clearly seems to be some concern somewhere over this, perhaps media making a mountain out of a molehill, based on player attitude.

Posted by Dannymania on (April 19, 2013, 20:49 GMT)

Great great type-up.Hats off to you Sir! I agree with every single word said here.One thing to add is,that the IPL doesn't necessarily have as many fans as some people think..I'm from Pakistan and as this type-up indicated,players from my country are banned from this tournament. That is obviously unfair,to say the least.Any country,whose players have taken the country to the finals of the tournament championship,or won it,cannot and should not be banned.Simple as that.Pakistan have reached the finals multiple times and england have also done the same.They've both won also. What i can confirm is,that the English county cricket is extremely popular in pakistan.I'll give an example.If a player from My country goes to play a county match,he'll hold much more respect than a player who plays the whole IPL season.But well,i'm one of those cricket fans who's basically a test cricket fan.Anyways,what we can do is,just follow the 'dunno what!' out of good cricket,wherever it might be..

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (April 19, 2013, 20:08 GMT)

@Rahul Withanage: Thank you Rahul. Thank you so much for being so SPIRITED and WELL minded. We need more cricket fans such as yourself. Yes, the IPL is GREAT and it is the BEST T20 league in the world. Of course, where else can we see Gayle play with Kohli, Sachin opening with Ponting, Mike Hussey embracing Dhoni and the list goes on. The IPL has done so much good for players, in terms of financial security, popularity, recognition and exposure to some of the greatest players on the face of the earth. It is a wonderful tournament which is growing from strength to strength. Sure, it has its share of flaws, and so does any other sporting event globally. But it is only going to get better each year. Speaking of the Sri Lankan players, you can proud of Sachitra Senanayake, Thissara Perera etc. who have been brilliant so far for their respective clubs. Who knows, Sanga and Mahela could spring into form and power their teams to some memorable victories. The best is yet to come my friend. :)

Posted by   on (April 19, 2013, 19:26 GMT)

IPL is an indian domestic tournament meant for Indian spectators. It is not owned by the ICC. The only consideration regarding the schedule and length should be the Indian spectators. If the foreign spectators are enjoying the IPL, then great. But, if they don't want to watch it, hardly matters. Why should Sheffield Shield or the county championships change their schedule for another country's domestic tournament. Same goes with the IPL. If the English board does not allow its players to play, tough luck. BCCI does not allow its players to participate in foreign tournaments. Again, it is an Indian Domestic Cup for the Indian spectators.

This coming from an Indian die hard test fan who does not even watch IPL much. But I am still proud of its impact, and how it has allowed the non-national team players to earn a good living.

If it attracts more cricket fans than tests, then its not the fault of IPL, but how the administrators have handled test cricket.

Posted by S.Anand on (April 19, 2013, 19:00 GMT)

IPL does matter to talented players and real cricket fans enjoying all forms of cricket all over the world. If we get more talented English and Pakistani players into IPL, I think the moaning on IPL will get reduced.. Let us hope for the best !! It is a treat to watch how the people come and enjoy the IPL with family, without any unruly behaviour as if it is a family event to support cricket. I have seen in many cricket clubs in UK when the training is going on the weekends for juniors, lots of English people watch IPL with more interest.

Posted by S.Anand on (April 19, 2013, 18:57 GMT)

To those who say 'The IPL doesn't matter to people in Eng.' means it does matter to them most. Otherwise why do they need to talk about it. It is simply because lots of players and fans in UK are frustrated and feeling within themselves about IPL. Why did Matt Prior say 'players will become increasingly "frustrated" unless the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) softens its stance towards the Indian Premier League' ? Then why did ECB chief David Collier go to India to negotiate the schedule of IPL so that England players can participate? When some less experienced Aus. And SA players earn more money than some very good Eng.players, automatically they tend to get frustrated, which is human nature. You should appreciate there is atleast a place where you can earn get some good international experience in playing in front of many people and earn more money in cricket for your talent.

Posted by yorkshirematt on (April 19, 2013, 18:19 GMT)

Well i just treat the IPL like any other tournament, series or match that doesn't involve England or Yorkshire. I enjoy watching it and following it but don't mind what the result is.

Posted by JG2704 on (April 19, 2013, 17:28 GMT)

please publish ESPN

Eng Players should not sign ECB/County contracts if theyre unhappy with being unable to play full IPL. Morgan may do this but he seems to have made no effort to regain his test spot + while he's a gifted shorter formats player he is surely further away than ever from the test set up. ECB may have to worry about is how much they value progress in the shorter formats.Players like Wright, Morgan and Hales etc could - if forced - choose IPL over county/Eng shorter formats sides. But what the players must bear in mind is that they are risking a guaranteed wage for the riches of IPL.And when you look at some of the other nation's players who are benched in IPL you have to wonder how big a gamble that might be. When you see the retired big name players who(though underperforming,past their best or unsuited to it) are in favour it makes me wonder whether our players may be better off waiting til their careers slide and then pursuing the IPL riches

Posted by   on (April 19, 2013, 15:31 GMT)

I find a huge problem in English media being so adamant in accepting ground realities.. As Mark Nicholas pointed out, Cricketing power has clearly moved towards the East..The biggest worry for England would be the fact that the IPL or BCCI or India is least bothered or have no time to know about England's perspective about IPL..This is 21st century and mind you if you dont wake up and update your resources or products,there wont be any reprive from economic meltdown any country for that matter...

Posted by skilebow on (April 19, 2013, 15:22 GMT)

As an Englishman the IPL is my guilty secret. I enjoy it (especially as its the only cricket on free to view tv in the Uk - ECB think about this hard) but feel my loyalty should be to county cricket as without county cricket there is no England. Surely a compromise can be reached. Maybe the IPL could change its scheduling to be slightly earlier and the country game could start a little later (it was about 4 degrees on the first day of the season this year). I think its easy to pick a team...whichever one Rahul Dravid captains

Posted by PhaniBhaskar24 on (April 19, 2013, 14:36 GMT)

India is a nation where cricket in religion unlike England where it has both Football & Cricket.. If it is not for IPL ( an indian premier league), there would not be any big article as big as this...When a child cries " Look at me & you smile at him to a already known trick"..agreed...however it is at that point where you smile ( imagine a bad day at office, long drive with hell of traffic jam, politics ruining your day to today life) forgetting all your worries. As an indian thats what it is life like..so when you are smiling at a known trick " you are taking pleasure out of it".. so that what else required..sit back & smile..if it coincides with your schedule..ask the same question " Would i smile to this already known trick" & write a article like this one

Posted by Beazle on (April 19, 2013, 14:30 GMT)

I have loved cricket for 50 years yet I have never seen a single ball of the IPL in England. Is it even on tv here ?

Posted by ThyrSaadam on (April 19, 2013, 14:25 GMT)

IPL tends to cause more headaches for the English as it coincides with the English season, and i am sure any other top boards barring NZ would have objected to their players playing in the IPL if it coincided with their respective seasons. It is sad but seems rather intentional that akistan, and English players are being kep out. While the reason for keeping English players out could be due to the lack of their availablility, the reason for not having Pakistan players is a blurr, and could be politically motivate. While the Indian govt has provided a sign off to have Pak players, there havent been any certain talk between the two nations, which sould then indicate that the sign off was just a proxy one. And if i were a francshie owner why would I buy someone who may not be in a position to provide full service?

Posted by A.Ak on (April 19, 2013, 14:17 GMT)

What is in county cricket? - let me say it. Each county has a cricket team, in various divisions, mostly filled with foreign players, without much pay, plays 4 day cricket game in an awful English weather (which cannot stay sunny for the whole day) for the whole summer, with not much fans watching, in a small ground with a pub in it. And ECB believes this is what saving the world of cricket from falling. What IPL does is simple. IPL is played in-front of huge jam packed crowd, with huge payment which could secure rest of their life.

Posted by Greatest_Lame on (April 19, 2013, 14:16 GMT)

@Posted by Meety on (April 19, 2013, 10:54 GMT): I agree with most of what you said there but " IMO (IPL) is a considerable reason for injuries". Please name a couple of Aussie test players from first XI who got injured because of IPL. And "like India our younger talent doesn't have the same application as prior decades"?? Dunno much about Aussie young talent ( barring pace department), but Indian young talent including Pujara, Kohli, Dhawan, Vijay, B.Kumar, Ashwin, certainly have the potential and have shown that they can apply themselves. Whether they can actually do it over a period of time?? Only time will tell. But I certainly don't agree they are in the same class of "young Aussie talent" which recently visited India.

Posted by t202012 on (April 19, 2013, 14:11 GMT)

In India we take great pride in our cricket. And it is needless to say we have outnumbered the cricket lovers even if you combine rest of the world. And investment on a lot of foreign players (even thou' a lot of them are benched) is mainly because of how competitive it gets and of course the entertainment factor. So it is fair to say people you leave IPL alone coz you won't find a lot of the world complaining about EPL.

Posted by gsingh7 on (April 19, 2013, 14:01 GMT)

DAVID HOOPS is , i am sorry, wrong in this matter from first sentence. if ipl is like 6 yo , then county can be called 80 yo grand mother whom nobody takes seriously, especially today's teen. they want entertainment not boring ordeal that old folk like so much. ipl is the future of world cricket and world have changed so much and for the most part, for good. i never watched any county match in my entire life even its there on tv. i however watched each match of six seasons of ipl. different strokes for different folks i guess , no moral ground to be taken.

Posted by pulkit10 on (April 19, 2013, 13:40 GMT)

It is this moral highground that you take that is the most annoying thing I see on ESPNCricinfo. "Oh Test cricket is valuable and so precious."; "Ah, the IPL is just smokes and mirrors! Nothing more! People flock to it for money!"; "They designed the whole tournament to hurt our delicate system and degrade the quality of players".

I'm not denying that Test cricket is perhaps the most rigorous and skill testing of all formats but just because we agree that Tests are great then does that automatically mean anything else isn't? Face it, most people don't have the attention span of 5 days in our world (especially with a possibility of "no result") - this is just something you should get used to. Cricket is evolving to the wants of its spectators and there is nothing wrong with that. To deny it is rather foolish.

In summary, it is rather foolish to use this "old times were better" argument to attack the IPL. It wasn't created to destroy your precious ecosystem. End of story.

Posted by cricket-india on (April 19, 2013, 13:35 GMT)

there's an easy win-win solution; IPL and county season both reshdule. from the indian side, IPL gets shortened by having 2 matches every day. it's not a come-down and need not be seen as one. having 2 matches per day ensures the IPL finishes faster, has atleast 1 exciting match per day (imagine if there's only 1 match on a particular day and it turns out to be a battle for mid-table mediocrity, a battle for the wooden spoon, or worse, like the DD vs CSK match or the MI vs RR match where one side gtes steamrolled - where's the excitment?), minimises chances of viewer fatigue and makes players foreign players avl for their country commitments. from the english side, they reschedule their county season by 1-2 wks, and that's it. everyone wins. there's no reason for fans of any tournament to loathe the other tournament.

Posted by   on (April 19, 2013, 12:42 GMT)

Utter nonsense. I like county cricket, is better cricket.But its not being marketed properly.It needs to be shown on TV more.I'd watch that any day over IPL.

Posted by torsha on (April 19, 2013, 12:31 GMT)

Too much of these worthless articles about IPL. If he has chosen IPL over county cricket then what is the problem in it? Everyone has his priority. Well done Morgan and KP!

Posted by PrasPunter on (April 19, 2013, 12:10 GMT)

Surprising how a hit-and-giggle tour in one country can hold the prospects of the game throughout the world to ransom. Not sure why Eng should be bothered about, for the reasons pointed out by @JG2704. If at all someone must be worried, it must be us Aussies - in an Ashes year with some of the potential top-order batsmen in action for almost 2 months without much downtime, their involvement is seriously a concern. Then comes the last edition of Champions Trophy and then alas, Ashes on our face !! No time for rest and rehab. Eng are in a much better place by not playing IPL at-least this year. Thankfully, Pup is away from all this circus - either willingly or otherwise.

Posted by landl47 on (April 19, 2013, 12:02 GMT)

I live in the USA and can't watch county cricket anyway. The IPL starts after the teams from the Southern hemisphere have finished test cricket and barely overlaps with the England test season. I don't mind the commercialization- it's just like every American sport (I have to laugh at the 'strategic time out', aka break for commercials).

I don't care for it because it lacks the qualities I prize in cricket- strategy, concentration, technical skill, the ebb and flow of an extended battle between top players. Success in the IPL is measured in economy rates and runs per ball. The best bowler in the world gets 24 balls to show his stuff. A quick 30 is prized more than a measured 60. The most valued shot in the game is the slog-sweep (or cow-shot). It's a grade-school game played by adults.

Some things are good- close finishes, the spectacular out-fielding, innovative shot-making. For me, the drawback is it's not cricket, but another game played with the same equipment. I prefer cricket

Posted by Reenigne on (April 19, 2013, 11:38 GMT)

@Nutcutlet . just dont get it. "So, what drives the aspiring IPL player? Greed. The evidence for this is Eoin Morgan's current absence from the fields of England & Ireland. No, I am not necessarily saying that Eoin is greedy, just that if there wasn't such a ridiculous & disproportionate reward for being part of the IPL circus, he'd be doing his best to construct proper innings for Middlesex in an attempt to win back his Test place." there are two sides to a coin. I have witnessed a few county sessions both impressive and sulky ones. the IPL is a mix of entertainment and talent. the money involved is but a fitting reward for exceptional talents around the cricket playing nations. some say IPL does not matter to people in Eng. I assume thats just an uneducated guess from a rather jealous and obtuse perspective. Frankly there are more mind boggling and nail biting finishes in IPL than any other county/league cricket tournaments and greed is not the apt word to describe it.

Posted by Meety on (April 19, 2013, 10:54 GMT)

I have said for a while now, if I were an Indian, I would be very proud of the IPL. As an Ozzy, it only has some curiosity value & a hell of a lot of headaches. In some ways I think it is an advantage for England to have the scheduling clash. It sorts out the contenders from the pretenders (all due respect to the likes of Morgan). In Oz, it eats into our cricketers downtime (& IMO is a considerable reason for injuries). Now that we have the BBL in full swng in our PRIME cricket season, our batsmen (fringe in the main) in particular seem to be completely muddled in how to play FC cricket. Usman Khawaja has not played Shield since November, & I think got one (maybe two tour games in India). At the moment, I think is insulated at Test level from 20/20-IPL influences, as most of the entrenched top 6 are batsmen who started their career BEFORE big IPL Bucks. In Oz, the dynasty ended around the time of IPL, & like India our younger talent soesn'y have the same application as prior decades!

Posted by   on (April 19, 2013, 10:54 GMT)

It is a pity most of the English do not understand ( or dont want to know) why IPL is held in April and May. It is the only time that IPL can be held to accommodate the Indian Public . It is a family entertainment Just look at the crowd , we see all age groups. I am a test cricket fan but I am hooked onto IPL as it is great entertainment and where else we can see likes of Gale and Kholi batting together ! We are greatful to India for bringing international players to one platform to play side by side which will enhance the spirit of the game when they play at international level. Long live IPL. (From a Sri Lankan fan ) ps pity none of the Lankan players are doing well

Posted by JG2704 on (April 19, 2013, 10:44 GMT)

I say that unless Eng start losing players to IPL to leave things as they are.

IPL seem happy without Eng players and we have had comms saying that Eng players besides KP,Morgan etc arent good enough for IPL and Eng and Pak players are not missed.

The truth is for whatever reason English players are not fancied by IPL Franchises - period.

2013 IPL we have 4 Eng players there and only 1 has played.To ECB it's not so bad as only one of the other 3 will play for England again and that only in shorter formats. Yes it can be said that these players can earn big money in IPL but no one from ECB forces them to sign the contract. Also I wonder how much money the lower tiered IPL players earn anyway. The biggest worry is guys from the ODI/T20 set ups. Wright is out there and not getting a chance.While it can be argued that these players could be earning the IPL riches no one can say that being in a side where you're benched the whole time does the player any good.

Posted by Cricketfan11111 on (April 19, 2013, 10:01 GMT)

IPL is fun. It is the only cricket on TV at the moment. It is early in the tournament. Foreign players are giving their best to cement their place in the playing XI. Eoin Morgan had few good knocks. Luke wright has yet to play.Most Indian capped players are in good form. Uncapped youngsters are not bad either. Nothing negative about innocent kids showing their talent. If you are an IPL fan or a neutral cricket lover you will enjoy the cricket on show. This year pitches are helping the bowlers a lot and there were lots of low scoring thrillers. It is all harmless fun for 7 weeks.

Posted by cloudmess on (April 19, 2013, 9:45 GMT)

I greatly respect David Hopps as a writer, but his views on cricket are essentially backward-looking, and this article was a little predictable. I wouldn't expect him to like IPL, so what's new? I suppose he aptly represents the entrenched nostalgia among older England fans for gentler, less noisy times. The IPL is not a substitute for test cricket. It is also not a substitute for the subtle and intricate rhythms of county cricket. It is nonetheless something to be celebrated in its own right, an energetic, ebullient carnival which comes round once a year and features the world's best players. Far more than county cricket, it allows star players from different countries to bond, and to exchange ideas - something which has become harder in the era of ice-baths and warm-downs. It may not last 50 years. But it is very much something of the present day, and English cricket should make more room for it, and embrace it whole.

Posted by py0alb on (April 19, 2013, 9:26 GMT)

The players seem to be in a bit too much of a rush to join the IPL. Relax guys, play out your test career and cement your legacy. The IPL will still be there when you're in your 40s and your best days are behind you.

Posted by py0alb on (April 19, 2013, 8:56 GMT)

The feeling is not confusion, its mixed feelings.

On one hand we're glad there is cricket on the telly, on the other, we're just annoyed its poor quality cricket with too many commercials featuring teams no-one cares about, when there is better quality cricket going on down the road with no-one even bothering to film it.

It just boggles the mind.

Posted by   on (April 19, 2013, 8:41 GMT)

If it is, as you suggest, "an essentially trivial Indian T20 tournament", then why do you resent the decision by BCCI, which is an Indian organization, to keep out the Pakistani players? It might not appear sporting, but given the history between the two countries, it is understandable.

Also, bilateral ties essentially pit the two countries against each other, whereas in the IPL, the hypothetical scenario of Gambhir and Afridi playing together is a recipe for disaster!

Posted by 37c. on (April 19, 2013, 8:34 GMT)

David's quite entertaining, isn't he. He's right that here, in England, there's little mature talk about IPL. Well, what he hasn't said is that there's a kind of "silencing process" going on whereby Sky is forcing the ECB and counties to do its bidding. I've seen a lot of English comments here about their disinterest in IPL - that just not true at all. I love it (although it's not just Indian domestic, but Indian-Australian, in reality). I know more aboput Indian cricket through IPL, free to view on ITV, than I do about any county sides. Research also shows that while Sky has the monopoly on all cricket here, there hasn't actually been any cricket shown on TV yet this season. So, please, bring us more IPL - longer seasons, more cricket, less Sky. And, the other good thing about Indian Premier League is that it has brought in a lot of money to the Indiangame from a lot of different sources - but the ECB will only allow "monopoly money" from Sky.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (April 19, 2013, 8:30 GMT)

So, what drives the aspiring IPL player? Greed. The evidence for this is Eoin Morgan's current absence from the fields of England & Ireland. No, I am not necessarily saying that Eoin is greedy, just that if there wasn't such a ridiculous & disproportionate reward for being part of the IPL circus, he'd be doing his best to construct proper innings for Middlesex in an attempt to win back his Test place. In contrast, what drives the aspiring county championship player? The desire to represent his county (or shd that county not be impressed, another county) before setting his stall out to becoming an England player, because he loves playing the game. Any 18 yr old in a county net who expressed his ambition as 'playing in the IPL' is likely to get the shortest shrift fom the coach & be on his bike before you can say Time Out. The IPL doesn't matter to people in Eng. Really not.

Posted by bm7471 on (April 19, 2013, 8:29 GMT)

cricket fan is asked something as innocent as "Is there anything you would like from your doctor ?" we are likely to say: "I am mentally disrupted and… don't talk to me about the IPL, dammit." Clearly he thinks we are in a bad way. It is time to summon another doctor. Or at the very least, a response. It says the idea is I am the master. Why you confusing me. Apart from that you are right to say we are lacking Imagination, I always want to organise a Tennis Ball tournament . Anybody can play, But I can do this easily in Asian Cricket mad country than England . Everybody pay £15 to enter the playing field. or go through council application to play cricket. I am tired already.I can see you tired aswell

Posted by   on (April 19, 2013, 8:22 GMT)

This piece is too long. By the time you get to the bottom you have forgotten what was written at the top. IPL Is fun to watch, the Indian tallent is not that bad, and it gives them an opportunity to test their skills against worldclass bowlers and batsmen. Only drawback is the exclusion of pakistan players. One frustrating thing is politics in sport. All we want to do is to be able to enjoy our God given tallent against each other in the game we love the most.

Posted by   on (April 19, 2013, 8:16 GMT)

I think the problem is with England as they seem to be looking the other way . Test cricket and IPL can co exist and people are talking about a sensible window for IPL for some time now. I am sure many average australian and south african cricketers are raking it in whilst better english cricketers are looking enviously if quietly . IPL will benefit if some englishmen joined too . They are missing out because of the misconceptions the ECB has with the IPL. I am sure IPL has many things wrong with it but what it has is fantastic crowds and a tremendous TV audience. The crowds may not be knowledgable and may clap enthuisastically for a thick outside edge ! But they bring the money in and keep the game"s commerce flowing. More critically it is an indication of the future. If England wants to live in the past it is their problem , but it is they who are missing the bus and can only console themselves with pieces like these. Ramanujam sridhar

Posted by anshu.s on (April 19, 2013, 8:04 GMT)

Why do English fans not realise that IPL is not the enemy, enemy is overpowering popularity of Football in England as David Hopps himself puts it "It is to Premier League football to which our media remains irredeemably wedded. It is Premier League football that leaves our cricket forever accepting its place as a distant second when it comes to popularity. " i would even put cricket behind Rugby in popularity stakes. Cricket in England particularily test cricket has a niche market among middle aged men and those educated in public schools, hence Skysports pays about 200 million Euro for TV rights to ECB for a 4 year period and this is as good as it gets.... it dwarfs in comparison to Skysports 6 Billion Euro which it paid for 3 years TV rights for the Premiership!!! blame for it lies squarely on founding fathers of the game namely England for not popularising the game among working classes to make it lucrative enough due to a elitist and snobbish mindset .

Posted by   on (April 19, 2013, 7:39 GMT)

@ imsaiarasan23 To say there is a lack of interest in cricket in the UK is plain wrong. No other country sells out all five days of Tests, even against "weaker" opposition. There is much love for cricket here in the UK, but attending championship matches on a Wednesday is impossible for those in work. That does not mean they are not following the game. It is about much more than "bums on seats" and it see it that way is nonsense.

Posted by   on (April 19, 2013, 7:25 GMT)

As someone who has a connection with both countries (British but of Indian origin) and having resided in Pune (home of the Pune Warriors) for little over a year now, I understand the appeal the IPL has. However, as far as I am concerned it is pure gaudy entertainment. Even the Indian press is starting to get weary.

As for County cricket, that will always have a place in my heart and for me that is the real form of the game and despite currently being in India, the only cricket I'm bothering with at the moment are the Middlesex commentaries on bbc sport.

County cricket is proper cricket, IPL is entertainment, both have positives and negatives both can be dull and entertaining in their own way. It is a waste having IPL on ITV 4, in my opinion it would be better to have one of our domestic competitions on terrestrial instead, especially as Test's are all on Sky now.

Posted by bonaku on (April 19, 2013, 7:02 GMT)

I dont understand what is the problem. For me it is simple, it is like ... if the product is good just buy it. If you find IPL entertaining then county cricket, just see and enjoy it. Partisanship is not good for heart and soul. Many people watch EPL in India than i-leagueeven though our player dont have any representation in EPL. It would be stupidity to say them not to watch EPL.I think author is dishonest to himself.

Posted by TheGecko on (April 19, 2013, 6:57 GMT)

This article adds even more to the confusion than provide an explanation to "England's vexed problem with the IPL". The author seems to be seriously muddled up, contradicting himself so often at successive statements.

First he states, quite preposterously, that the "IPL wants to conquer the world" and then swiftly contradicts it by saying that the IPL was meant only for India! Er? If something is popular only in its own country, how can it conquer the world? And then that England cares for the greater good by "safeguarding test cricket" and then immediately says that England has to revamp its own T20 tournament. Of course, only the IPL destroys test cricket, England's T20 tournament will probably caress and nurture it.

Posted by KK47 on (April 19, 2013, 6:45 GMT)

Few things that the author has to get right. Though I agree about allowing Pakistani players into the IPL, we are not just facing "extremism" as he puts it so mildly. It's full-blooded terrorism. Secondly about the scheduling of IPL, it's the only time in the year when it can be scheduled during summer vacations for school students in India. It's silly to expect a change to accommodate very few English players. The comment "that we can guide cricket through dark days" is probably the most childish of all. If anything, I would say we are in a golden era when cricket is getting the center stage it deserves. Attracting attention from non cricketing nations and finally escaping the 'cage' it was confined to. I have been to many IPL matches in Chinnaswamy stadium and can vouch for the intensity, energy, quality of cricket and the competition on display. Haters will hate but IPL is here to stay.

Posted by tickcric on (April 19, 2013, 6:31 GMT)

"...we hold deeper truths, that our desire to protect the future of Test cricket is one example among many of our desires to uphold the greater good, ..." If we look at history it will be clear that shortening of the game for concentrated action and excitement was done primarily due to the needs of English cricket. That includes bringing in One-day & T20 cricket into the elite professional levels.

The English might convince themselves that they take the 'high moral ground' but that might be more self deception than truth. ECB's decision to concentrate in Test cricket is more of a pragmatic decision coming from the realisation of its ability, than anything else. Dont you think, they would have ditched all those 'high moral grounds' for making something as successful as the EPL, if only they could?

Posted by   on (April 19, 2013, 6:14 GMT)

It is fine that English people or for that matter people from any other country are not interested in IPL . It is India's domestic tournament which features quite a few foreigners including a few from England(to attract a few fans from foreign countries). I followed BBLor BPL only when there was some buzz on twitter. I used to check the scorecards when Dravid,Sehwag and Yuvraj where playing in English county cricket. I watched a few games, but that is all there is to it. I always thought a few players from other countries in Ranji games would help gather more Indian audience for our first class games but not foreign ones. It is fine to not like it. It is fine if to hate it.

Posted by imsaiarasan23 on (April 19, 2013, 5:53 GMT)

I think it is a very complex view on a simple thing..

There is lack of interest for cricket in UK... more so for a nondescript Indian domestic league sans English players..

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (April 19, 2013, 5:29 GMT)

If the English wish to participate in the IPL they are welcome. IPL is played in Apr-May every year. I'm sure those who are truly interested could arrange to be in India during that period. If it clashes with their schedule and cannot prioritize for IPL, then they need to accept it rather than pour their resentment on the IPL. IPL today has 15 West Indians, many South Africans, Aussies, Sri Lankans and Kiwis. Only 36 foreign players would get to play through the 9 teams. IPL 7 would see the franchises getting shrewder and pruning down the foreigners bench strength, after all why should anybody pay somebody ridiculous amounts and give them the best seats in the stadium to sit and watch the match? Under such a competitive environment, I don't see the English players surviving save a couple of them.

Posted by   on (April 19, 2013, 5:21 GMT)

The simple fact is that those in the UK that follow cricket are interested in the English, not Indian, cricket. Given the choice of listening to BBC internet commentary of a county game or watching IPL on ITV4, for those supporters I know, it isn't even a contest.

Expecting us to take more than a passing interest in the IPL wouldas likely as us supporting a German or French football club, or Indian cricket supporters to follow the County game in detail. Barring a tiny minority, it just isn't going to happen.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (April 19, 2013, 5:00 GMT)

It would need injuries/very poor performances from all of KP, Root, Bairstow, Bell etc. before Morgan would ever be considered for tests again I reckon, otherwise he is behind the likes of them in the pecking order.

Posted by Sir.Ivor on (April 19, 2013, 4:50 GMT)

The statement "The IPL longs to....." profound as it sounds is all wrong and presumptuous. The IPL came into being because of the wave of popularity that 20/20 cricket generated after India won the initial World Cup of that format. In fact before the IPL there was the ICL which should really be given the credit of bringing the IPL to the popular event it is today.There was no preconceived concept of' "feeling unique or conquest of the world".It is another matter that India is seen as an economic powehouse in today's grim context the world over and that a Corporate honcho is presently presiding over matters in the BCCI.The general feeling mostly with the ECB and others is that an upstart like India has stolen a march over the traditional powers in cricket only because of money. As a 6 decade old cricket watcher,I must say that I was disgusted to see cricket being framed in a case of entertainment with dancers and the like.But that was initially, Now it is cricket and it is nice to see.

Posted by   on (April 19, 2013, 4:01 GMT)

After reading this, I could understand why the English and ECB are so sceptic and belligerent abt IPL. As a Cricket Fan, I definitely miss English Cricketers in IPL. I wish I could see them soon without bothering abt dark clouds of history being shadowed or authority preserving of Tests. Hoping BCCI and ECB will resolve this soon before its too late.

Posted by   on (April 19, 2013, 3:42 GMT)

Haha, as a teenager in the 1990s I used to buy the Playfair Cricket Annual every year, but I never bothered looking at Derbyshire! All the others, maybe ... :-)

Posted by thephill on (April 19, 2013, 3:35 GMT)

"The IPL longs to feel unique, grown up, and thinks it will conquer the world. It has youth, energy, ambition, and sees the world through its own needs and its own needs alone. " This by far the best description i have read of the IPL. It has the potential to do wonders for the good of world cricket but barring the inflated bank balances for players, i am yet to see many benfits. Indians may argue, "Why is our responisiblty to improve world cricket?" My response is that it is the reposibilty of ALL involved in the professional game to have its best interests at heart and work to improve it.

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David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.

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