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    April 23, 2008

    Thoughts on the IPL - Part 1

    The Indian Premier League got underway last week. While I haven't been able to watch games in their entirety, I've been able to watch some significant portions, which included some brilliant performances.

    I think the jury is still out on whether spectators (and TV audiences) will root for a specific city-based team. There're only 8 cities (and states) represented. So which team does a cricket fan in Kerala support? Will he/she go for the team with the maximum number of Malayalis? What about folks in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh or Madhya Pradesh? I'd come close to having dual allegiance, to the Chennai Super Kings and the Bangalore Royal Challengers. Yet, I find it hard to support only these teams and none else. Maybe there're several other people like me, who're more than happy to enjoy every game (as long as it is rivetting stuff), regardless of the teams in action.

    I'd anticipated that Hyderabad, Delhi and Punjab would be the 3 teams to beat, but turns out that Hyderabad's bowling resources are pretty scarce & unidimensional and Punjab isn't firing either. It's not as though the points table will continue to remain the way it is. There're bound to be changes as players move in & out and as the squads 'gel' better.

    In contrast to a lot of people who're hopping mad about this format of the game and the blurring line between sport and entertainment, I find it hard to be condescending of Twenty20! If anything, I am quite excited about it. I'm more than willing to give it a chance, including the cheer-leaders and film star appearances. I don't expect the film stars to turn out for every single game their team features in.

    Yes, there're definite ways to tweak it to make it a more level playing field between bat and ball, but that's a problem that exists in the 50-over format anyway. On this blog, we've touched on some suggestions earlier: Allowing only 6 players to bat in Twenty20 games (Steve Waugh said the same thing!) and increasing the per-bowler overs limit to 15 in ODIs or encourage wicket taking by allowing one extra over per wicket taken. Most of the ICC's rules are batsmen-oriented. Besides, what's the big deal about 11 players/batsmen or artificial stuff like 4 (or 10) overs per bowler?

    The one thing I've figured out over the past 2+ decades of following cricket, especially over the last decade, is that if you don't respect a form of the game, you're unlikely to do well in that format. England's administrators, selectors and players kept disrespecting one-day internationals and they've more than paid the price. As Scyld Berry points out in his Editor's Notes in the 2008 edition of the Wisden Almanack, other than Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, England are the only Test-playing country never to have won a global one-day tournament.

    The beauty of following a tournament like the IPL is watching McCullum or Sehwag play some jaw-droppingly astonishing shots, Pollock plugging away ad nauseum ad infinitum, McGrath bowl a bouncer to Symonds after Symonds smacked him over mid-wicket, Warne showing us that he's still good enough to make it to the Australian team, Asif & McGrath combining for a seam-bowling master-class, etc.

    There's also the beauty of seeing people like Ganguly, Dravid, Laxman, Venugopala Rao, Sreesanth, etc. more or less appear like fish out of water in this format. I just don't understand how someone like Laxman can captain a Twenty20 side which has Afridi, Symonds, Gilchrist and Gibbs in it! If he weren't captain, his name would never be in a squad of 20!

    The other thing that has struck me is the quality of the fielding, especially from the Indians in the tournament. The likes of RP Singh, Munaf, Kumble, etc. are always going to look stupid, but as was the case with the Indian Cricket League, a lot of the Indian players (who haven't yet turned out in internationals) have fielded much better than I'd expected. Perhaps the contributing factors were the support staff made available to the teams and the peer-pressure that comes with fielding alongside Ponting, Symonds, Gibbs, Afridi, de Villiers, Dilshan, Yuvraj, Kaif, Raina, Rohit Sharma, etc.

    To me, there's no doubt that the IPL will be successful. What the BCCI and ICC need to do are:

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 7:26 PM |
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    3 sledge(s):

    Personally, I love the IPL. I find it refreshing, and with the type of money it's dishing out, the ICC will soon be out of business if they don't shape up.

    I'd like to see a fairer challenge towards the ball, as you pointed out, maybe allowing things like *gasp* ball tampering?!

    Also things like gaining extra overs (or totally removing the bowler restrictions (you can bowl 10 overs with 2 bowlers) In a way it will make the game more "purest"... get bowlers to bowl, and batters to bat. That's what I like about the IPL.

    By Blogger Reenen (30-Apr-2008, 11:18:00 AM)  

    I went to a Deccan chargers game Vs Kolkatta Knight Riders at Rajiv Gandhi stadium, Uppal, Hyderabad. Here is my take -
    1) The approach to the stadium is a mud path, full of sand and dust. The parking is far away and the arrangements were poor.
    2) Once you approach the gates, it is absolute mess - the pushing and shoving is so horrendous. The gates are narrow and the rush - horrible. I saw a bunch of eve teasers having a good time, touching and fondling women in the Q since the rush through the narrow gate stills were producing a funnel effect. The security was lax and there was no order of any kind.
    3) Once you pass through security, you will go through another mud path, dust ladden and by the time, you reach your seat, you will be dreching with sweat and dust.
    4) Preassigned seats are there in tickets but as usual, there is no order in our soceity and it is free for all. Any one can sit any where and there is no one to cross check and regulate.
    5) There was some biscuit packet distribution by ITC (and that was probably the only good part).
    6) Water is given from a dispenser (bottles are not allowed) and there is chaos every where. After a 1/2 hour, the water coolers looked like as if they were bombed. There was muddy trail and the plastic cups were strewn all around. This mess was of course primarily due to the unruly crowd, which had no civic sense.
    7) I did not even attempt the toilets. The stink from them was gut wrenching some 25 ft before.
    8) The plastic seats were ok but the view from West pavilion, lower terrance was poor because of the ugly grill mesh, which is omni present in Indian grounds.
    9) As the match progressed, I was in a section, where there was more support for Kolkatta than the local team - they got up for every 4 of Dada and hence, I could hardly see a thing. To avoid this mess, I moved to a front row but I lost the perspective of the ground from there.
    10) Info flow was poor. The teams were not announced and the so called big LCD (small by stadium standards) was showing irrelevant sponsor ads
    11) There was hardly anything worth mentioning by way of improvement in the stands. The infrastructure was poor and the paying public were treated like dirt. The paying public also behaved in an unruly fashion and there was no civic sense of any order.
    12) The stadium is half finished and if this is what Shivlal Yadav boasts as world class, he is a morone of the highest order. (for good measure, he has named a pavillion in his own name. This is like you constructing your own house and calling it as Jagadish house)
    13) All I can say is that the so called Rajiv Gandhi, new generation stadium at Hyderabad is a poor cousin to some of the stadiums I have visited (the 1980s MA Chidambaram stadium was 1000 times better than this ) and I have seen dozens of grounds abroad. Don't even compare. Indian public are taken for granted. The masses are cheated. They too deserve this since whatever little is left is spoiled by them. On the whole, it is a fair deal - you get what you deserve.

    By Blogger Crick_Love (13-May-2008, 12:36:00 PM)  

    Thanks for the revealing comment on the state of the infrastructure at the stadium, crick_love.

    I suspect this is true for most grounds in India. The problem is that gate revenues are miniscule compared to TV revenues. So there is no incentive for the BCCI to make grounds more accessible/approachable/family-friendly.

    By Blogger Jagadish (13-May-2008, 7:03:00 PM)  

    We'd prefer if you posted comments with your real name to add more credibility to your opinions. However, the moderators reserve the right to delete comments, especially those containing offensive or unsuitable language. The opinions in the comments are your own views. You are welcome to provide a URL to your own cricket blog, but the moderators reserve the right to delete comments which only reference sites for viewing live streams.

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