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Time to play the Game

It’s all about the game and how you play it.
It’s all about control and if you can take it.
I am the game, you don’t wanna play me.
I am control, no way you can change me.

Words sung by Motorhead and immortalised by 13 time WWE World Champion Triple H but they couldn’t have been more apt for the annual magnum opus that is currently gripping over 1 billion people in our country – IPL. The Economic Times of 16 March 2010 reckons that the BCCI could make upto Rs. 750 crores in this edition of IPL. Heck I don’t even know how many zeroes that has!

But what exactly is it that makes the IPL what it is? The craze for cricket is nothing new at least to our nation. What is new however is the coverage. When the average housewife discusses Yusuf Pathan’s blistering century and compares it to Dada’s sweet cover drives, you know what the IPL has achieved is unprecedented. A clever mix of marketing (remember “Manu Ranjan ka Baap”), glamour (need I name the stars involved?), hype and timing (airing on a primarily TV soap channel in the primetime slot) has rocketed the IPL to mammoth TRPs. Not to forget the valiant contribution by all the money bags who “purchase” players for ridiculous prices and then pay them some more to perform so that every single cricketer today dreams of playing in the IPL. I think it should be rechristened “Itna Paisa League”. While yesterday the entire household would cheer for India as Sachin sent the opposition teams on a leather hunt or Sehwag flayed some hapless bowling attack, today loyalties in the house are divided. Who to support? I was born in Pune and I support the Mumbai Indians. But then I like Dada’s batting style and Dhoni’s temperament as a captain so I support their respective teams too. And when either of them play each other, I indulge in an impromptu “Eeeny, meeny, miny, moe” and pick the team to be supported for the night. And yet bigger are the problems when my mother supports Delhi or Kolkata (“Come on how can you not like Dada’s batting style?” It seems everybody loves it!).

As teams take the field, you can already hear cash registers ringing. Tickets priced at minimum four-figure amounts, incredibly expensive fan gear, glamourous cheerleaders and coveted commercial slots (that for some unfathomable reason now appear occasionally between consecutive deliveries of the same over too) all go a long way to making sure that irrespective of the which team wins, the sponsors are still laughing their way to the bank.

But its not all bad. There are some good aspects to this form of cricket too. Unknown guys like Tare and Tiwary thrash established fast bowlers to the ropes. These guys who may have never even have received a call to the Indian National Team are getting good exposure at the highest level – playing alongside and against some of the greats of the game. If nothing, they will have a lot of invaluable experience to take back with them when they return to the domestic circuit. Additionally it gives all cricketers – young and old – to mix with people from other teams and understand their thinking and game plan.

What is slightly disheartening though is the step-motherly treatment meted out to bowlers in the form of batting friendly pitches, rules and sometimes even umpires. Not to mention batsmen friendly bowlers who are always in a benevolent mood. The frightening aspect is that while the IPL is throwing up a lot of batting talent from the Indian players, there is a conspicuous absence of good young bowlers who can be groomed to follow in the inevitable change of guard post the World Cup. If our best choices after Zaheer Khan are Mr. Sreesanth (who somehow is unable to figure out the difference between a yorker and a pitched up delivery wide of off stump), Mr. Nehra (who doesn’t stop the ball in his follow through in case he is toppled over by it), Mr. Sharma (who looks like a wildman throwing a banana) and the plethora of balding spinners (Piyush Chawla, Amit Misra, Pragyan Ojha, Murli Kartik) we would be better off considering an 11 batsmen team. People like Yuvi and Sehwag can turn their arms. Take Pathan and a couple of other hard hitters and then just score enough so even your leaky part time bowlers can defend the enormous target you will post.

The IPL 2010 is only a few days old and already the nation is under the grip once again. At a time when exams are around the corner and parents can’t leave the city on a vacation, the IPL provides perfect entertainment neatly packaged for the parents and the kids alike. At least there are no complicated or contorted story plot lines to understand, no hysterically un-“funny” mix-ups, no conniving vamps wearing the entire wedding jewelery collection from a jeweler’s store and definitely no “rare genetic disorders” that are today the characteristics of our movies. All that it provides is batsmen carting the bowlers around the field with ridiculous looking strokes and nail-biting finishes that go down to the wire – all in a little over the time required to watch an average Hindi movie (provided you can tolerate the highly intrusive commercials).

So go on! Cheer for your favourite cricketers, your favourite teams or just your favourite bollywood stars as eight teams try to fight it out for the coveted trophy of the IPL 2010. May the best entertainer win! 🙂

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  1. 19 March 2010 at 02:48 IST

    every match something new and more commercial happens. the first match it was the referee asking each team if they were ready like WWE. then today we had ravi shastri talk the most bullshit kanadda i have heard in a long time.
    Not to mention the stupid akshay kumar ads.

    • Siddharth
      19 March 2010 at 06:09 IST

      Oh I was telling my roomie how stupid the Akshay Kumar LG 3-D TV ad was and he goes “Wait till you see him behave like a retard in that mobile phone ad!”…. Why do people pay him money to act that badly?
      As for the matches, unfortunately the cricket seems to have been sidelined by everything else.
      So we have young PYTs dancing around with barely any clothes on while veterans like Mr. Shastri and Mr. Gavaskar are reduced to tomfoolery and buffoonery while commentating, in the name of entertainment.

  2. 25 June 2010 at 06:51 IST

    IPL sux!

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