During a recent social outing, I struck a conversation with a woman in her early 30s, who also happened to be sports enthusiast. But my heartbeat resumed to normal as quickly as it went up once she mentioned that she preferred the T20 format over every other version of cricket and that the Indian Premier League (IPL) is what keeps her glued to the sport these days.
And if that isn’t indication enough for my preferences as an Indian cricket fan, let me call a spade a spade. I couldn’t be happier that the cricketing disgrace called the IPL is over and that we’ll finally get to see the Men in Blue involved in some international action, beginning with the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 that kicks-off on Friday.
All moms swear by the axiom, ‘Excess of everything is bad.’ And that’s true for even the most lovable of things like a Biryani. If you have it for 47 consecutive days, sometimes even twice a day, it is going to feel like a dreaded tinda soon. The IPL just keeps going on and on and is even longer than the apex tournament in the sport, the World Cup. The 2014 England tour was testimony to how fatigued (and ultimately injured) players can get for international duties as a result.
IPL fans would argue that even Test cricket is ‘boring,’ but it at least isn’t fed to you with the sheer ferocity of the IPL.
Despite not being an orthodox middle-aged man, I still disapprove of all the glamour and glitz associated with the event. It was a shame to see how even the biggest of media houses sensationalised Mumbai Indians’ team owner Nita Ambani hugging the players of her team after their victory in the final, just because she is a woman. The fixation on the smart set that turns up to watch the matches and the overall slick packaging of the IPL is very much a case of style over substance.
Not that international cricket has been nice as a pie, but the over-commercialised nature of the IPL has entangled many a young Indian cricketer into unnecessary controversies, from corruption to debauchery. And what’s with all the Pakistani-players-are-banned and Sri-Lankan-players-will-not-play-in-Chennai politics?
It should not even be a debate as to how the Indian domestic circuit is the real factory of pumping talent into India’s international squad. Agreed that the IPL helps uplift the Md Sirajs and the T Natarajans of the world, but it didn’t do much to enhance their cricketing abilities. Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja are two members of India’s CT squad who can be called finds of the IPL. But eventually they also had to sweat it out in the Ranji Trophy games to make a mark for themselves.
In fact, I don’t even know why I’m justifying myself so much. Following some of the warm-up games for the CT has been more enjoyable than the IPL, where I have no loyalties at all, with a Virat Kohli pitted against an MS Dhoni. I’m just glad that international cricket is back and the next IPL is another year away now. Phew!