The Indian Premier League (IPL) is in its 10th year and has been loved by one and all. Be it the young aspiring cricketer on the maidans of Mumbai or the elderly person buying fish in Kolkata; they all follow the IPL.
Couple of seasons back it was termed as “India ka tyohar” (festival of India) and I would say that this phrase aptly summarised the omnipresent love for the league. IPL changed the landscape of cricket in India. And not only in India, IPL brought in a revolution of cricket leagues world over.
The Big Bash League, The Caribbean Premier League and various other leagues across the cricketing world owe their success to the IPL.
There is no doubt that a lot of moolah has been pumped in to make IPL what it is today and the cricketers are the biggest beneficiary of this. But it would not have been successful without the warmth of the fans.
And fittingly so, the ad campaign of this season’s IPL has the tagline - “Ye das saal aapke naam” (these ten years are on your name). Given this scale of success, one often wonders the reason behind it. It is indeed an interesting topic of research and one would find people often debating on the reasons for the unmatched success of IPL.
Let’s take a look at few of the reasons which justify our love for this celebration of cricket.
#5 Shorter duration and timing of matches
When T20 cricket was introduced, the aim was to bring back followers who may not have the time to watch five-day test match cricket. Obviously, there were the purists who would any day prefer test cricket over T20 matches.
But there was a general feeling that in this fast moving world, T20 was the need of the hour for the game of cricket. T20 brought in a new genre of spectators who preferred the format because of its shorter duration.
IPL was an attempt to take that vision ahead. Given the fan following for cricket in India, it was a no-brainer that IPL had a great potential to succeed.
The organisers did a fantastic job in choosing the timings of matches. Evening schedules ensured that fans could finish their daily work and watch a game of cricket which would last 3 hours. And it suited everyone, be it the school going kid or the office goers.
#4 The Drama
Over the past ten years, IPL has seen its fair share of drama both on and off the cricket field. On the cricket field, we have seen some extremely close finishes.
There have been umpteen occasions when the match has been decided in the very last over. This meant that the fans remained glued to their television sets until the very end. A true cricket fan could not ask for more.
On the other hand, IPL has witnessed a lot of action off the cricket field as well. The hype around the players‘ auction or the grand parties thrown by the team owners infused glamour in the gentleman’s game. Indians love cricket & Bollywood and IPL was the perfect marriage between the two.
Then there have been some unwanted controversies which on occasions have put a question mark on the league itself. But such on and off-field instances have ensured that IPL has always remained in the thick of things.
Also Read: Top 5 super-overs in IPL history
#3 City-based loyalty
Westerners who are familiar with the sporting leagues will tell you that these leagues are nothing without the loyal fan following the teams have. The loyalty increases by leaps and bounds when teams are linked to cities. Although the Indian domestic tournament (Ranji trophy) is also based on states, but adding a city level component augurs well for the metropolitan fan.
Take the case of the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the USA and one would find teams from top cities like New York Nicks, Chicago Bulls & Los Angeles Lakers among others.
The creators of the IPL factored in this while designing the tournament and made city based teams. As a result, a person who may not otherwise follow cricket, found himself supporting Mumbai Indians because he was a loyal Mumbaikar. Similar was the case with the other IPL teams. Another level of loyalty was infused by the introduction of the concept of “Icon players”.
Indian stars like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, MS Dhoni, Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh were given the status of icon players. So, if one did not belong to the cities representing an IPL team, he/she could still support a team based on these icon players.
#2 Chance to witness all international stars perform at one stage
It has been every cricket fan’s dream to watch the greats of the games together on the field. Fans often fantasised what would happen when Sachin Tendulkar would bat alongside Sanath Jayasuriya or in recent times when AB de Villers bats with Virat Kohli.
Their wish was IPL’s command and no fan wanted to miss this opportunity. These international stars (both Indian and overseas) were the crowd pullers and every team ensured they have a strong pool of international stars.
Presence of overseas stars also meant that IPL was followed outside India. For instance, a person in South Africa would support Royal Challengers Bangalore just because of his love for AB de Villiers.
These stars also helped in elevating the standard of the overall game and this had a positive impact on the Indian youngsters who shared a dressing room with their heroes and tried to learn from them.
#1 Made cricket a family sport again
Indians traditionally give a lot of value to the family system and for an average Indian, a form of entertainment is the best when it can be enjoyed by everyone in the family. Back in the 1990s, cricket was indeed a family sport but slowly few people started losing interest in it.
Test match cricket and even ODIs were too much time taking to fit in the category of a short family outing. But an IPL game of 3 hours was a god sent family entertainer. It had emotion, drama and suspense. In short, it was the perfect alternative to a matinee show.
IPL brought everyone in the family back to the game of cricket. There was something in it for everyone.
IPL became a topic of family discussions and no one wanted to be caught unaware on the latest happening in the league. All this meant, that IPL indeed became a festival to be enjoyed with family.