Over the last two weeks, Yahoo! Cricket ran an online survey that attempted to put on record how cricket lovers felt about the IPL. We were taken aback by the response. Nearly 19,000 readers answered to our call to answer 26 simple questions about the IPL. The response beat our in-house projection by several multiples.
Two simple conclusions can be drawn from the responses: the majority loves the IPL, and the majority believes there’s much scope for improvement. It believes there’s corruption and match-fixing in the IPL. But it also feels that the IPL’s effect on Indian cricket has been largely positive. It believes that ICC should create a window for the IPL in its cricket calendar. But it then says the IPL is not as attractive as international cricket.
How do we make sense of these responses? How seriously do we take these cricket fans who’re prone to contradicting themselves; whose responses may be driven by sentiment rather than logic?
On Twitter, Harsha Bhogle said if so many people (68.9% of the total respondents) believe there’s spot-fixing in the IPL, something must be done about it. Yahoo! Cricket later spoke to Bhogle. He said a brand can be clean, but if a pointed question is raised about its integrity, there may always be a section of people who will harbour negative feelings about the brand, whether or not such feelings can be justified.
“If you ask some people if they feel there are animal bones in cola bottles, some of them may say yes without knowing for sure,” Bhogle said. “But when the majority believe there’s wrong-doing in the IPL, steps should be taken to correct its image.”
There’s also the issue of transparency and black money. The IPL would like us to believe that Sachin Tendulkar is being paid less than Ravindra Jadeja. This is a laughable suggestion. Off the books, there may be no limit to what players can pocket. The sting operation conducted by India TV confirmed as much: players are not satisfied with their prescribed salary slabs; that they’re prepared to ask for more.
This problem could be remedied if all Indian players, including the uncapped ones, are auctioned. They can be bought in an open market in a transparent manner. IPL chief Rajeev Shukla had earlier said this may be a possibility. But the BCCI are hesitant to do it because it will be a "time-consuming affair".
Given what the public thinks of the IPL – they love and hate it in equal measures – our advise to the IPL would be to spend all the time it needs to clean up its image.
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