From being popularly known as the Indian Premier League to quickly becoming the Indian Problem League, the fall for the IPL has been rapid.
The money is something that cricket had not seen before. Money talks they say and so is it in this case! From bringing in cricketers who the world thought was long gone back to stage, to helping another part of the world discover some amazing “young” talent, to entertaining all those cricket crazy fans every evening after work and last not least, giving kids around the country an extra reason to celebrate summer vacations, the IPL did it all in it’s inaugural edition. All good things come with controversies and IPL was not exception to this either. Accusing the league for pushing cricketers around the world into pre-mature retirement, choosing money over country and last but not least, not being inclusive, we saw it all.
I personally enjoyed season one. Choosing whom to support was an easy decision. Being a Bangalorean, I was disappointed to see a test team line up to play T20. My loyalty quickly swung to the best thing that’s happened to Indian cricket – MS Dhoni and his Chennai Super Kings. MSD played masterstroke with the team selection even before a ball was bowled. Getting a right mix of locals and expats, Dhoni ensured that he got along an uncut diamond, Raina along with him to stitch his team of the boys in yellow. The joker in the pack was of course the Rajasthan Royals. Acclaimed to have the greatest ever cricketing brain ever and blessed with exceptional skill to turn a cricket ball on glass, Shane Warne, up north, was putting together his team of underdogs. I wasn’t surprised to see these two teams do battle in the finals. I would have loved to see MSD and his boys win, but on a given day, the team that plays better cricket wins and right so, the Royals.
With time to kick start season 2 around the corner, the hype started as early as the New Year – the fallout of 26/11 meant that the Pakistani players didn’t want to come. For those that may argue this on who didn’t want who, the trading window and the money spent did its share to the share of ink. The nail in the coffin was the recent attack in neighboring Pakistan on a touring Sri Lankan team. While this was “outside” India, the event’s ripples traveled over 500 kms to the national capital for the administrators to sit up and take notice of potential security risks.
From an exchange of words to reading between lines, from the politics of power to the politics of money, in the name of democracy and elections, the home ministry showed who is the boss by having the IPL postpone it’s initial published schedule. Lalit Modi is a die hard and he went out saying this will happen with no change. Someone in the higher echelons of power asked him to backtrack and so he did, with a revised schedule – more cities and slightly different dates. This time around, the states came in to the party saying they were not staffed well enough to support security cover for these games and the proposed elections.
The issue of “security” in the sub-continent is being viewed at very differently by all the foreign players who were itching to come and get a game – life Vs money and we all know the obvious choice that these so called players from safe havens from around the world tend to make. With a couple of casualties in terms of big names dripping out for the fear of life, this storm is yet to blow over.
To me, the real issue on hand is the question of these two events co-existing. Elections are no doubt important and so too is the issue of security. A country of a billion people is suddenly faced with the issue of resources for security – what a paradox.
If I were Modi, I’d flex my financial muscle to hire SO many of those unemployed, semi skilled youth and train them to build up my own security forces for the IPL. Hiring or training is not an issue considering how much time is left. If you want to run and need shoes, you must go and get them! Waiting for someone to give them to you is not smart business. To me, this move is a great win win – strike a deal with the center to say that this newly built security force can be used as a potential resource to staff up national security services. Upskilling them to play a different game is easy and is doable if they clear hurdle one. Your cup of woes is filling up real quick Mr. Modi.. game to try?
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