Is IPL helping Indian cricket?
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Last Updated: Saturday, April 17, 2010, 17:57
Is IPL helping Indian cricket?Biswajit Jha

Much has been written and spoken about the new avatar of Indian cricket: the Indian Premier League or IPL as we love to call it. The league was envisaged on the backdrop of India’s famous victory at the first ever T20 World Cup in 2007. Sensing the T20 format to be the next golden goose, Indian cricket administrators, led by Lalit Modi, immediately introduced a T20 league that had city rivalry at its core.

Apart from some die-hard cricket romantics, who loved to watch the drab of five-day pajama cricket, most of the cricketing fraternity in the country was happy. The league opened the flood-gates of cash for cricketers. The established ones got richer by leaps and bounds. Even the mediocre cricketers got rich. Everybody attached to the league, be it umpires, commentators, event management groups, former players or even the skimpily dressed girls dancing after every boundary, has got something to cheer for!

But the best thing the league brought, which most of us overlook, is for the little known domestic cricketers. They got the kind of money, which they never imagined and got the fame they never dreamt of.

For the majority of the parents in India, who always tried to get their children away from this ‘game of time wasting’, cricket, has suddenly became a superb career option.

Since everyone is happy, what is plaguing some ‘chicken-hearted’ cricket writers and some old time cricket romantics?
The million dollar question is: Is the IPL taking Indian cricket forward? As for that matter, is it helping our Team India in anyway?

The first objection with a hectic league like IPL is that it is causing some serious burn-outs and injuries to our stars, whose role is very important in India’s cricketing fortunes at the world stage.

Since IPL is yet to get a place in the ICC’s Future Tour Programme (FTP), the league is generally sandwiched between two important tours or major ICC events like World Cups. Last year, Twenty20 World Cup started just a week after the second edition of IPL.When the Indians players started to defend their World Cup title, they were looking out of form with drooping shoulders. They were nowhere near the physical and mental conditioning that is needed to compete at the top stage. The most disturbing factor that divided the Indian team’s campaign was the injury of Virender Sehwag that he sustained during IPL-II.

This year too, Twenty20 World Cup is starting four days after the final match of IPL which will surely hamper India’s chances at the event. Moreover, India’s two top cricketers-captain MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir have already gotten injured while playing in the initial phase of IPL. With more than a month left for the league to get over, more injuries can be expected.

Apart from burn-outs and injuries, IPL is producing a pseudo confidence among Indian cricketers. If we compare the standard of the league with any other ICC event, it is still mediocre. Last year, the Indian players who thrived during the IPL, miserably failed at the World Cup. The Rainas, Rohits, Pathans realised that the performances in IPL are not easy to translate into success at the world stage and they were not world class by any means till they bent their back into more training.

But why question the ‘Tree’ which is overflowing with money? What if we don’t win another World Cup, what if you don’t excel in Tests? As long as Gavaskars and Shastris are being fed by the golden goose, they will bask in the glory of ‘City Moment of Success’ while all this the time, Indian cricket is being swallowed by the serpent of Indian pseudo-patriots’ League.

First Published: Saturday, April 17, 2010, 17:57

(The views expressed by the author are personal)
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