In the famous fairy tale, the princess kissed the cursed frog it transformed into a handsome Prince. The IPL, at its inception, was indeed a handsome Prince but as the seasons progressed, it was kissed by a phenomenon called commercialisation and the Prince started to metamorphose into a gigantic frog.
The reason it still attracts money is because it’s a gigantic frog.
When the IPL was first announced back in 2007, shortly followed by the first ever player auction, there was a genuine euphoria among the cricket fans. It turned into pure excitement when the first ball was bowled.
Fans were thrilled to see Tendulkar-Jayasurya, Gayle-McCullum, Gibbs-Gilchrist opening combination; Malinga running in and slinging his yorkers for Mumbai Indians or Shoaib Akhtar steaming in from Kolkata and Shahid Afridi from Deccan Chargers.
Success was already written all over it, but it was confirmed when McCullum blazed to a 158 in the first ever match of the IPL. Although there were some eyesores like the IPL parties, the fans happily turned a blind eye to them because of what they were getting in return.
Cut to IPL 10 in 2017. It might still be burgeoning in its valuation, the stadiums might still be getting jam packed, the new fan parks might still be getting overcrowded, yet it is hard to ignore the diminishing Prince features and the beginning of the dominance of frog features.
This ugly monster comes back every year. Since this is the 10th year, there will be eight ugly monsters this time. How many times you have winced when it is followed by those mundane, glory-hunting speeches by the so called administrators. When it seemed like the CoA might do away with the Opening Ceremony, they added seven more to increase viewing pain.
You have to realise this is a just a pre-match show! Yet somehow every year its set resembles the one from any Sanjay Leela Bhansali movie. Why is there a need for drums? Or a DJ? Why do cheerleaders dance at the end of the show? Why to Bollywoodize everything? John Dykes must be wriggling in pain somewhere watching this show.
Oh, this is the best part for any satirical person. The Big Bash League has mild mannered, easy-to-the ear commentary. It sounds and looks like three dudes sitting in any pub in Australia and talking informally about the game. You can even picture imaginary beer mugs in front of them.
Compare that to the IPL commentary which seems to have stuck in a time warp. It feels like three corporate super-executives sitting in a business review meeting, rattling off a business report having same old structure and framework filled with old clichés.
The ‘Mad Max’ has gone from mildly amusing to a cockatoo on a wild squawking spree. You cringe with fear when you see him with a microphone in his hand before the toss.
RS and LS always seem to be in their own little worlds spinning their own little tales. At a time when there is an urgent need to bring some kind of freshness and informality to the commentary, one of the good commentators was terminated over his “criticism” of Indian cricketers.
If something doesn’t change here, it’s going to be “very very” boring and numb the television viewers with the speed of a “tracer bullet”.
Don’t even mind the ghastly advertisement banners and the VIP boxes in the stadiums. It is only a natural invasion. But when you hear “Yes Bank Maximum!!” with a borrowed panache for at least 10 times on average per match, it just becomes annoying. If there is a Gayle-storm then may God help you.
The English Premier League has also become Barclays Premier League, but you won’t find commentators bellowing ‘it’s a Barclays Goal!’ every time a goal is scored. It doesn’t stop at that. We have ‘Vodafone Super Fan’, ‘Vodafone Army’, ‘ Parle-G Hide & Seek On The Couch Challenge’, ‘UC News fall of wickets’, and many more.
Coming to the outfits, it would have been so fascinating to be a fly on the wall when the designs for IPL player outfits were discussed. A player jersey is a matter of pride for every club and its fans. You take any sport and the player jerseys are revered by players and fans alike.
This concept seems to be totally forgotten for IPL team jerseys. It is so littered with sponsor logos that a newbie will have a difficult time in spotting the club crest among all those patches.
Even with all these faults, IPL is a necessary evil needed to popularise the game of cricket. The players still remind us of why the IPL should be more about by giving unforgettable performances on the field which we, as fans, truly enjoy.
It brings in so many new fans to the game, some of whom may, in turn, take a liking to ODIs and Test cricket. IPL acts as a financial backbone for so many honest and unknown local players.
This year’s success story has been the Afghan players who have been picked up by the franchises at a high price. Forget the price, these players will learn so much being able to live with some of the game’s great legends. It will only lead to cricket becoming more popular and the associate nations becoming more competitive.
The IPL can still do all of this by being a handsome Prince it once was and not the giant frog it is becoming.