IPL taking over the world of cricket

The cricket World Cup or the spectacle of cricket is now done and dusted. The world watched with great interest and expectation the unfolding of events and held their breath when the Indians were crowned the Champions of the world, which mantle they will hold for another four years.

With this title India which is cricket crazy, has already witnessed that frenzy reaching an unprecedented stage with every street, nook and corner having the cutout or the image of a Dhoni, Yuvraj or a Tendulkar if not some Indian star. It has also prompted them to claim that “Cricket was first invented in India and then exported under cover to the UK”.

I am sure most people felt that the IPL which kicked off on the 8th April wasn’t going to draw such large crowds or great interest levels but watching from the side lines one cannot digest the hunger the Indian crowds have for cricket in the country. Though whilst the fans seem to be keen and very animated, watching the game on Television I got the feeling that the Indian players in particular despite their efforts to conjure some interest appear to be tired and struggling to carry on. Considering the terrific returns the players are assured of and judging by the levels the brand IPL has achieved making it absolutely attractive to sponsors, the players who are the main actors of the show have to go on and got to stay loyal to it. looking back in history I wonder whether the former England captain and now the renown commentator Tony Greig gets enough credit for his role in the revolutionizing of the game in 1977.

Suraj Randiv and M.S. Dhoni in IPL action.

Readers old enough will recall the Kerry Packer circus which endured numerous court cases and other obstacles which became a reality creating the new evolution of cricket. It was the Packer Circus as it was called which introduced coloured clothing, night cricket, drop in pitches, the increased frequency of the usage of helmets and more importantly the enhancement of the player’s wage! The epoch where television played a huge role, and with it the money the game needed making the players more protected and established and transforming cricket in to a meaningful career began then. We could term it the first revolution of cricket!Also as the power wielded by the BCCI in global cricketing matters is high, I wonder despite the temptation of other boards notably England and Australia to emulate the IPL, whether there will ever be another league of that magnitude else where. In fact I can’t see the BCCI ever tolerating another competitive league! In the event such league is born the only action required will be to prevent the leading stars of Indian cricket participating and with it the mega bucks is bound to dry with the interest levels being low.

The fact of cricket today is, there is no money if there is no India. I mean the real India and the top players. It may come to a stage that with the high demand for finances to sustain the game most cricket boards are bound to play ball with the Indians to ensure visits to their countries to guarantee the cash flows are maintained and the finances are balanced. That is how powerful India is and the impact it has created in the game both on and off the field. I won’t be surprised if the cricket world sees an invasion of Indian cricket such as coaches, trainers, physio’s in other countries on the lines of Australia where every country wanted an Australian somewhere in their DMU’s. This is the reality of today and a fact one has to live with.

In that context the IPL becomes both important and critical to all cricket nations and we in Sri Lanka have already started to feel the heat with the call for the cricketers selected to tour England to return by the 5th May. I am a firm believer that the country is always first and can not be compromised and money is never an issue. There is no question about it. But having said that it is also important to be aware of the pros and cons and the long term repercussions when making important decisions and also how the decisions should be made and most importantly conveyed.

It is imperative to be able to achieve middle ground and come to a working arrangement and arrive at a compromise that is acceptable to all and close to the best rather than standing one’s ground! Definitely the tour of England by Sri Lanka is the priority and nothing can come close to that and that has to be remembered. However unless this seemingly volatile situation is handled carefully the winner will not be Sri Lanka or Sri Lanka cricket. I am sure about it!

Roshan Abeysinghe is a leading cricket promoter and an international cricket commentator

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