IPL sizzles and fizzles
Shane Warne will return to play in Australian in the Big Bash League (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)
When the IPL started in 2008, it was promoted as “cricket with more sixes than maidens”. Now after five crazy years of meaningless matches it has been embroiled in controversies galore.
Call it more court room drama than sport. And all that before you can say Pomersbach!
What an insane week for IPL in its fifth season. A secret operation by an Indian TV channel led to the suspension of five cricketers for allegedly accepting bribes.
It was followed by verbal fights between India’s popular movie star Shah Rukh Khan and officials of the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA). He was later banned from entering the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.
Has it ever happened before a celebrity being banned to enter a Stadium? In India movie stars are as much adored as Test greats.
This was climaxed by an IPL player, Luke Pomersbach from Western Australia, being detained by the Delhi police on alleged sexual charges and of assaulting a guest at the team hotel.
I have always said and always will that too much money in too short a time is the root of all evil. And that is exactly what IPL stands for; Intensely Profane License, to ruin one’s principles and integrity.
There is much about the IPL that is worthy of criticism and scrutiny.
True, conflicts and controversies are part and parcel of cricket everywhere these days. But so many nasty incidents in such a short time is stretching it.
Had there been no IPL, the skirmish at the Wankhede Stadium involving Shah Rukh Khan and Pomersbach’s alleged fisticuff when playing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore may never have happened.
I must add that Pomersbach is no stranger to rowdy behavior down under. In 2007 he was suspended for drinking before a crucial match against South Australia. In 2009 he was involved in two hit-run incidents when driving over the limit.
In Delhi his playing career has been placed on hold after he was detained by the Delhi police on Friday and charged with assault on a woman and her fiancé. He appeared in a Delhi court, where he was granted interim bail. He is also suspended by his IPL franchise for the rest of this tournament.
“The IPL is not the only sports league in the world offering insane salaries and party lifestyles. European football, the NFL and the NBA, to name a few, are full of stories of the kind the IPL has produced this week” writes Sharda Ugra in CricInfo.
“These leagues are decades old but the IPL, into its fifth year, is just beginning to identify its conflict zones. It is what happens when money, power, alcohol and entertainment meet entitlement.”
Sadly, the IPL won’t disappear because a few sensible individuals are against it. It is instant entertainment wrapped within business which mints money. The players are tempted because of easy money and the crowds lap it up because of the instant gratification.
Look what it has done to Indian cricket. They were the lauded and applauded World Cup champions on 2 April 2011. IPL-4 started a week later and the momentum was lost; some got injured and others lost their focus.
It would be too simplistic to blame IPL for India’s pathetic performances in the Test series in England in 2011 and in Australia in 2011-12.
Of course there were other reasons but if you don’t have fierce focus on your game, the results are disastrous. And quick money-spinning events like IPL snap one’s concentration, the will to succeed and the determination to win.
Just look at India’s talented all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja for instance. The 23 year-old was auctioned for two million dollars for IPL 2012 as the one-day series was going on in Australia. Consciously he was trying hard to focus but sub-consciously, his mind appeared elsewhere.
I realise that IPL provides entertainment for the masses and pays the players well, but it should include only cricketers who are on the verge of international representation or those who have retired from international scene like Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and Matthew Hayden.
Active Test cricketers should not be diverted by IPL exhibition matches.
You can’t have the cake and eat it too, or is it the other way round?
Kersi is an author of 13 cricket books including The Waugh Twins, Cricket's Great All-rounders,Six Appeal and Nervous Nineties. He writes regularly for Inside Cricket and other publications. He has recently finished his new book on Cricket's Conflicts and Controversies, with a foreword by Greg Chappell.
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