Postpone IPL Season Two?

My Two Cents made a rousing pitch for keeping the IPL on schedule this year, even as the tournament faces doubts  from foreign cricketers and the Indian government as well, jittery about election season.

I’m not so sure I agree. My Two Cents lists a few good points — he’s right that it would de-hypenate India from Pakistan, at least partly, though I think that’s happened already to some extent — but he lists some other dubious ones, like:

Because it is the clearest statement yet that in India, cricket matters.

Because if teams use the IPL precedent to stop touring India, cricket in India can go one of two ways – we reinforce our grass roots, pay more attention to domestic cricket and do what South Africa did in the apartheid years. Or let cricket wither and die.

Because the IPL is the most potent symbol of what can be achieved if a few Indians decide to put their minds to it. An event that came out of nothing, an idea brought to fruition in the space of 6 months, a celebration of the game and a celebration of the sheer logistics involved.

First, India does not need to make any more additional statements about its love for cricket. It’s been noted, I assure you. Besides, a private, Twenty20 series wouldn’t make the clearest statement about cricket; I’d like to see more attendance at Test matches for that.

Secondly, if international teams do stop touring India, I really doubt people will pay more attention to domestic cricket. This relates to my first point: I’m not certain that Indians care about cricket as a game; they care only when India plays the game. That’s different. Does anyone care about the Ranji trophy?

And thirdly, India should have to prove absolutely nothing about “what can be achieved if a few Indians decide to put their minds to it.” For one thing, that’s just post-colonial guilt talking. (What, exactly, is India proving here? That its citizens are capable? Why should we have to prove that? Who doesn’t think otherwise?) For another thing, the fact that the biggest election season in the world is about to unfold is a much more respectable accomplishment and one I’d prefer to boast about.

This isn’t to say that I think the IPL should be postponed for safety reasons. I think players should show up for tournament, especially given the huge sums they will be paid. But no, I think the IPL should be postponed because I don’t like the IPL — I don’t like the fake franchises; I don’t care that much for the format (I think the tournament drags on too long), and I don’t like the power and money it gives to the BCCI, which has gotten too big for its boots lately.

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8 thoughts on “Postpone IPL Season Two?

  1. Homer says:

    DB,

    with or without foriegn players – you missed that point.

    If the foreign players dont come, a successful IPL would tell us where our priorities lies – with the game or with India playing.

    And if the foreign players dont come now and we scrap the IPL, where does that leave Indian cricket?

    And why is the IPL not a reason to celebrate – the sheer logistics alone makes it a reason to savor.

    Cheers ,

  2. duckingbeamers says:

    Thanks for the response, Homer. You make a good argument about foreign players, but it still doesn’t prove where “our priorities lie”: again, a true test would be if Indians tuned in to watch, say, Australia versus South Africa.

    If we do scrap the IPL, however, I think the cricket world will be much better. Say that foreign teams insist that they will not travel to India. The BCCI will then have to do what Pakistan is currently, that is, arrange tours at neutral and overseas venues, and share the revenue. That corrects the huge imbalance that exists in the ICC, with India hogging all the revenues, and the other boards forced to dance to its tune.

    Finally, you and I simply differ about “a reason to celebrate.” I don’t think India needs to search for any reasons; the country has thrown many complicated events in the past, this one isn’t that much more important (and compared to the Commonwealth and Asian games, incidentally, it pales in global and logistical relevance).

    But, my broader point was simply that Indians don’t need to look around for “reasons to celebrate”: that only shows our post-colonial insecurity. If the IPL isn’t organized, so what? Move on. It’s just not a national shame.

  3. Homer says:

    DB,

    I think there is a difference between celebration and vindication. I am not looking for vindication for the IPL but, having pulled off what they did in its first year ( with a zero fan base, zero buy in in the teams), the achievement is worth celebrating.

    Coming to your other point about neutral venues and revenue sharing – why is the BCCI obligated to share its revenues with other countries? The BCCI hogging revenues is because the BCCI has done a good job marketing the game. Last checked, extortion was not one of the many sins the BCCI had been accused of.

    Cheers,

  4. duckingbeamers says:

    Homer —

    If you’re a fan of the IPL, then go ahead and celebrate it. But to see it as a thing that trumpets national honor, we disagree. That some conglomerate managed to convince some other conglomerates (and a few movie stars) to host a few cricket matches just doesn’t do much for me.

    As for the BCCI, I think it’s done things close to extortion (witness the ICL fracas). The BCCI has not done a “good job marketing the game;” many agree, in fact, that stadiums across the country need better facilities and renovation, and that fans need to be treated much better. There’s far too much political involvement (right at the top, with a cabinet minister in charge), and the only reason the BCCI is as rich as it is has something to do with a burgeoning middle class that tunes into a watch a favorite pastime. That’s it.

    And why should India share revenues? Well, for one thing, it helps the game if more boards have more money to spend on building their own fan bases and facilities. For another, monopoly powers are never a good thing: the ICC schedule should be based on the best cricket, not the most money.

    You seem to have conflated the BCCI with Indian cricket and national honor. It’s not the same thing: the BCCI is a quasi-governmental body that enriches its own officials far too often without always delivering the goods.

  5. Homer says:

    DB,

    You look at the IPL through the prism of your antipathy towards franchise based cricket and the money that comes along with it. I am looking at it as a multinational tournament being staged in India.

    In ordinary times, I would agree with you postponing or staging the IPL amounts to nothing.

    But these are not ordinary times.

    If the IPL is pushed back,or worse yet, canceled because of security issues, that is the end of India hosting any multi-lateral tournament for the short to the medium terms.

    It may not trumpet national honour, but between now and the Sri Lankan tour scheduled in November, it is the only tournament that allows us to prove to ourselves ( and the world) that India is capable of hosting multi-lateral tournaments despite the problems in our neighborhood.

    Not doing so will have a knock on effect – the IPL today, the Commonwealth Games tomorrow?

    And about the BCCI, I agree. But the BCCI is not any different from any of the other cricket boards. You may argue over the level of corruption, but it is there, in varying degrees across all the boards.

    Can the BCCI do more – Sure. Should we demand more – Sure. But to write it off as a quasi-governmental organization is taking a rather extreme view.

    And, about the BCCI being a monopoly , it is the same as every other cricket board. And is recognized as the final arbiter of matters cricketing in India by that other monopoly, the ICC.

    So yes, the BCCI is conflated with Indian cricket. National honor – now that is stretching it 🙂

    Cheers,

  6. I agree with Homer in the sense that its the only tournament now left to prove that we are capable of hosting other nations. Surely we dont need this postponement.
    And yes, the BCCI has been too bullish on the ICL but you can’t blame it for using it’s clout in its qwn backyard. The BCCI may not have marketed the game (in your opinion) but it sure showed the world how to sell it. As for revenue, I’m sorry sir I disagree. I’m halfway across the world & I know so many people including me in India who get up at 4 to watch an ashes test. So why doesn’t CA or ECB send some cash over to us(not that we need it)??
    And sir, about true cricket fans, I took that as an insult. I’m 20, an engineering student in India, as common as they get, & for me, a test match between SA & the Aussies is pure bliss. Not just me, I know so many people who get up at even 2 or 3 to watch matches. I watch Shield matches, for God’s sake, how will i miss a Ranji tie?? You are ill informed about this sir, I live here & I love the game. Please don’t say that we just go for T20 tournaments & dont love the game. It’s pretty much insulting to a cricket fan.

  7. duckingbeamers says:

    Thanks for the comment, Sairam.

    As for the BCCI’s treatment of the ICL, I can certainly blame it for using “its clout in its own backyard.” Why wouldn’t I? The BCCI is responsible for the promotion of cricket in India, not for the promotion of the IPL, a completely separate entity. A number of good domestic players may have lost their livelihood, as well as the chance to practice their craft, which strikes me not only as mean-spirited, but also verging on unconstitutional.

    As for insulting — well, you’re right, it was insulting to you, as you do seem a true fan. But when I watched Ranji matches, I usually saw empty stadiums. When I watch many Test matches in India, I often see the same thing. Advertisers pay less during Test matches, because audiences are generally lower (there’s a reason the BCCI arranges for five- and seven-match ODI series).

    So, while I’m happy you’re a fellow fan, I just don’t think your own particular experience disproves my general conclusion: Indians may not really love cricket as a game.

  8. […] and I engaged in some fairly live back-and-forth about whether or not the IPL means something, and whether or not it would hurt if it were postponed for safety reasons. I think the exchange is […]

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