How Has IPL Changed the Dimensions of Cricket?

IPL began in 2007. Many were concerned about how the franchise system would work out in cricket. Since then, it has faced many ups and downs. We have seen glimpses of some spectacular innings like the mind boggling 175 by Chris Gayle and the devastating 158 by Brendon McCullum in the opening match of the first edition of the league. We have also seen many teams getting banned and who can forget the spot fixing controversy. Despite all the controversies, IPL has been a game changer as it has revived the game of cricket. With people getting more and more busy in their livelihood, it became difficult for them to follow the 5-day tests. Even a 50 over cricket match seemed to be too long and boring. This is where IPL came to the rescue. People needed some entertainment when they came back from their offices at 7pm, after a long tiring day, and IPl was a perfect package of cricket and entertainment. Apart from the people, it was a great thing for the advertisers as well because it isn’t like football or hockey where you can give ads only during the half time and before & after a match. This meant more revenue for the organizers and ultimately more money for the players.

Coming to the players, again, it has been a brilliant opportunity for them. Now a good player can earn a living even if he is not playing for India, thanks to the IPL. Gone are the days when a Ranji player had to do a side business to earn a living just because he can’t earn enough from the Ranji matches. So basically, the pool of players making a living through cricket got widened because of the league. We have seen many unexpected players making a fortune through this. Who would have thought that a 40 year old Pravin Tambe, who had never played a single Ranji match, would get picked up in the auction and would bowl a hat-trick? And who would have thought that a 19 year old boy would get picked up for crores! Nowadays, U-19 players are in huge demand in IPL.

But, there’s another side too which not many of us knows.

Sourav Ganguly writes about his experience in IPL in his book ‘A Century Is Not Enough’. Coincidently, he was the one to play the first ever delivery bowled in the history of IPL. He calls the franchise cricket a totally new world and completely different from international cricket. He further shares a very interesting anecdote from the second edition of IPL where he was dropped as the captain of KKR, which shows the dark side of this league. He writes, “I was taken aback by John’s (coach of the then KKR side) decision. When I asked John who he was appointing as captain, the answer came as a bit of a shock. He said there would be four captains. I have never heard such a thing in cricket…. I just looked at him in stunned silence….. I was told by one of the overseas players that John believed cricket should go the football way, where a manager was the supremo, where he had all the powers and dictated the captain. I begged to disagree but that meant very little to anyone.” He further writes that Brendon, the official captain, had to look at different directions before each delivery to get the instructions. Eventually KKR performed miserably that season and the coach was dumped the next year.

Sourav also says that team owners had very little patience and wanted overnight results, which is of course not possible in a game like cricket. As a result, he was made the captain the first year, was just an ordinary player the next year, again was made the captain in the third edition and went unsold in the auctions of the fourth edition of IPL. He wonders how one player can be so good and so bad in such a small period of time. There is an endless list of great players including Steve Waugh, Jacques Kallis and Dilip Vengsarkar, who were the result of faith and patience put on them after their initial failures.

All in all, I think IPL has been a net positive, which has proved to be a game changer for the cricketing world. It has helped the players as well as the viewers. Moreover, it has changed the way of how teams have played cricket. Well, there is a reason why 400 runs in an ODI is no more a big deal!

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