Yeah,its that time of the year again.When purists will cringe in embarrassment. Every principle fundamental to the system will be ripped apart.Basics will be scoffed at. Traditions will be flouted like never before. Commercialization will hog the limelight in a manner so unabashed and brazen.Raking in the moolah will be all that will matter,for the stakeholders involved. And those who will witness the so called spectacle will be divided along lines that didn’t exist hitherto.Villains will be cheered and heroes will be booed. A paradox of sorts will unfold. All this will last for a month or so-in an encore of an event that bull-dozes its way into the collective consciousness of a nation of a billion crazy people with an insatiable apetite for what is known as the game of cricket. Yes, the event I’m talking about is the Indian Premier League,or the IPL, which it’s mastermind Lalit Modi ambitiously (I’d say rather quixotic-ally) hopes will one day join the likes of the NBA and the EPL. Sigh!! Enough of a build up for an already built-up and over-hyped tournament.
Ever since T-20 has burst into the cricketing scene, it has had me confused. For a die hard purist like me,it has taken sometime to ‘accept’ this slam-bang-whack-wallop form of cricket.Somehow after we won the 1st world cup, I started taking it seriously. Then came the IPL. And with it, came along things that were witnessed never before in cricket-city-based franchises promoted by filthy rich businessmen and film stars who wanted to splurge and earn. Also not to forget, the skimpily clad cheer girls. The IPL is when my ‘love-to-hate’ or ‘hate-to-love’ relationship with T-20 began…
For those like me who mix cricket with patriotism, the IPL comes across as something that doesn’t quite fit in the whole scheme of things. Somehow,I’m yet to fall for the city-based loyalty concept.This is my 8th year in Chennai, but that hasn’t evoked any feelings of support for its Super Kings. So I really don’t care who wins or loses. It just boils down to having some fun watching some insanely high scoring edge-of-the-seat thrillers where some of my favorite players are involved.Talking of that, the only team I can claim to support or have a soft corner for, is the Mumbai Indians, which of course is attributed to the godly presence of a stalwart called Sachin Tendulkar. So once he gets out,the match can go to hell. :P What I miss is the sense of jubiliation or disappointment I feel on seeing India win or lose,respectively. That, according to me is the real essence of watching cricket.Unlike after every match that ‘India’ plays, I am not really drawn into passionate discussions on what went wrong or right or any such kind of post-match analysis that would ensue.
High octane cricket is fine,but it really is not the form of cricket which can tell the men from the boys. Supporters argue that events like an IPL provide a platform for the young domestic players to rub shoulders with international-class players and in the process gain valuable experience. But it is quite evident that apart from rubbing shoulders and laughing their way to the bank, T20 doesn’t necessarily make them better at the game,holistically speaking.
Having argued against T20, I will now contradict myself. :P At the end of the day, it is all about having some fun.Like say watching a typical masala movie where you leave your brains behind. You can appreciate serious Mani Ratnam flicks,yet find guilty pleasure in watching silly-leave-your-brains-behind movies. Yes,the IPL is all about guilty pleasure,as far as I am concerned. I will speak for the purists,yet not forget to watch or follow it(minus the passion,of course!).
Even as I type this out, Yusuf Pathan of the Rajasthan Royals is giving the Mumbai Indians a run for their money in pursuit of a mammoth score. 5 more overs to go and 70 to get. :P I better go and catch the action now. :D