Thursday, 23 April 2009

IPL - spectacle or sport?

Well the IPL is in full swing on South African soil with plenty of colour, clean hitting, scantily clad cheer leaders and ignorant owners. Somewhat more subdued owners in some cases. Seeing retired players belting inexperienced youngsters reminds me of family bbqs in public parks - ah childhood.

There has been some change in the format: with players tiring after a long 10 overs there is a tactical break to regroup and alter strategy where necessary. Obviously from a batting point of view this has at times changed from trying to hit sixes alot to trying hit more sixes. Teams have retained theatric uniforms and batting helmets. Owners are still told by their body guards when they are on camera so they clap at the appropriate moments. This seems to be a slightly farcical element to me.

One aspect I've loved to see is players from different countries playing alongside each other and demonstrating friendship and comraderie. I watched Kolkata Knight riders play Punjab 11 the other night: Gayle's first over was awful and when Channel 10 went to a break straight after it I heard Gayle apologise to McCullum (Kolkata captain) with the words, "sorry skip". I think it shows great humility for a National team captain who is one of the most damaging players around to handle the situation in the way he did. While there are definitely cocky, arrogant twits (yes you Ganguly) the tone overall has been very respectful. When you read comments by players referring to teammates they use nicknames and other affectionate terms. I thought Hayden was meant to be one of the most despised players going around: it doesn't appear that his team mates feel this way (probably helps when you're the leading run scorer in the competition).

You may detect a dramatic shift in my tone when discussing the IPL. Well, I've changed my tune. While areas such as the mid-innings break and commercialising of the sport I love infuriates me to some degree: I've chosen to concentrate on the inclusiveness and togetherness that sport as a medium can offer. I've always thought one of soccer's greatest strengths is that players from countries who don't get along (politically speaking) can function well within a team dynamic that the game allows. Watching players swap gurnseys after battle is, to me, one of the most beautiful things to see in sport. I couldn't care less who wins the IPL but perhaps all of us can appreciate the non-cricket related aspects while admiring big hitting.

Obviously there are many areas I've not mentioned here: the fact it is being played in South Africa most notably. Hopefully all of you can address such things. However, just to throw 2 cats amongst the pigeons, I feel the change in wickets has been a great things for the IPL. I reckon the tournament should rotate around the world each year (maybe not Pakistan for a while) - although I realise since the IPL is viewed as an Indian league first (perhaps only in India!) this is very unlikely to happen. And my other cat? It is this - goodbye 50 over cricket: you've served us well but you are dead in the water. All the power plays in the world can't save you now.


  1. They should probably change the "I" in IPL from "Indian" to "International" or drop it all together. That may make it easier to conduct it in other countries.

    Practically though, I think the huge crowds in India could be a factor in not letting it go outside India in the future.

  2. Lefty it’s not that I don’t agree with what you have said it’s just that I think you may have crossed that blurred line between sport and politics. When it comes to this I am a devout purist of sport. Too often sport is bandied around in the political arena and I can’t stand it. I really couldn’t care less if players from Australia hate each others guts as long as when they get out on the park it’s game faces on.
    It’s not that I don’t think sport can be useful in breaking down barriers and as a good distraction to the horrors of the world it’s just that too often it is used as a crutch by the politicians.
    I have no doubt whatsoever the players in the IPL are more concerned about losing the huge amounts of cash associated with this blood sucking competition than they are about losing the games of cricket themselves. This gimmick has had a diabolical impact on the cricketing calendar and will eventually dwarf the importance of the real stuff with the almighty dollar. Cricketing countries will not be able to compete and if the powers that be are not careful we as loyal fans will be left with far less test cricket so the players don’t wear themselves out for this type of high paying charade.
    Bring on The Ashes.

  3. Lefty I do agree with you that 50 over cricket is in trouble. For pure cricket the 5 day game is still the one but 50 over cricket is stuck between the raw brutality of the 20 over format and the sublime endurance of test cricket. It might take 10 years for the boffins to accept but 50 over cricket will fizz out.

  4. ah, family bbq's... the only time i've ever made a ton- even though my cheating cousins did everything they could to run me out; it seems as a 13 year old you still need to back-up heaps when playing tippity-run with a 3 year old at the batting end! bloody bumpkins!

    but to business: welcome aboard Krish, thanks for commenting. i too would like to see the I change to International and if we really have to have a team/club/league of T20 then make it international and make it work within everyone's test schedule. and to make that happen, kiss odi goodbye! it has served well but it is redundant as NL said, with neither the appeal or effective compromise between the game and the shortest form.

    if an international competition starts, i would like to see more two games in a day situations or even 4 in a weekend! take that to an major city and see how quickly you could get through the fixture!

    mmmm mmm, canned worms!

    stoph verismo

  5. oh yeah, good write up Lefty. nice to see another perspective considered.

    A.Gilchrist to be forced to fill S.Marshes position while injured!

  6. Good points Nospmas. I agree that sport and politics get lumped together too readily but to me they are inexorably linked. The reason IPL is not being played in India this time? Indian elections. Why are Aus playing Pakistan in UAE? Terrorism. Many sub continent teams have historically not fielded players or have underplayed them because they do not speak the right language, belong to a different religion or culture and so on.

    I guess the reason for my article is an attempt to draw some positives from a situation I deplore: but it is here to stay. I agree that in every sense the IPL is more about money than anything else. Players themselves are probably less concerned about their team's position on the ladder than they are about the state of their bank account. Where else (ie what sport) do we see so many retired players competing? Why are they competing? If it's not for money you'd expect to see them playing in club cricket at least. I don't believe McGrath, Hayden or Gilchrist are doing this.

    Nospmas I sense that while you are a purist (and therefore THE MAN) you are also an idealist to some degree. I'm speaking from a fatalist point of view. I think it's a shame that cricket has been trivialised by 20/20 itself: let alone the invention of IPL. However, if we are to put up with 20/20 I'd rather see it in this format than pointless one-offs tacked onto the end of a tour between nations. The fact that we have had a World 20/20 immediately (and as farcical as that is) upon it's inception indicates the world cricket's intentions.

  7. politics and sport are inextricably linked. Pollies want to be seen with winners and supporting their national side as a kiss arse to the community; teams and individuals need to navigate through international protocol, ethnic tension, cultural divides, et al.

    whilst i agree IPL is driven by money, the fact is, people have short attention spans, this is the fast food outlet of cricket and gives a quick fix to ADD's of the world.

    if promoters are happy to drop some cash to get more cricket into the calendar, i'll take it. I say that as someone who thinks test IS cricket- and could watch every ball of 5 days... but we are the exception.

  8. And being seen with 'winners' means troops overseas, Aussie popstars, noted media personalities etc. Anyone politicians believe are respected or oggled over will be approached by a sleazy twat wanting a photo.

    For more examples of politics and cricket being linked think about Zimbabwean players boycotting representing their country and of course apartheid. Politicians influence (even dictate) selections in some places (mainly subcontinent to my knowledge, but I wouldn't be surprised if in West Indies or Africa). Unfortunately the relationship between sport and politics is unavoidable: even though it is undesirable.

  9. at least we won't have lt johnnie failing to make it halfway down the wicket when bowling for the media!

    if the edia need a pollie for cricket/pr wank-a-thons i'll vote for brumby to do it. he is a handy tweaker from the stuff i've seen!

  10. Even Barack Obama looked more comfortable with the cricket gear than Dorkmeister Howard.