Cricket’s biggest revolution is upon us. For the first time in the game’s history, individual owners of cricket teams
have come about and players have been auctioned. The game has hit upon a massive source of cash inflow and real
globalization is only a handshake away.
Purists — in a less charitable mood, I would have termed them regressive — fault the Indian Premier League for a few reasons. They feel it would rob cricketers of their intensity for the traditional formats, the skills of youngsters would deteriorate and revenue would be the preserve of a select few and not to be ploughed back into the game. Also, player burnout would be a reality.
I think they are overblown concerns. As an individual, everyone wants to secure his future. But once it is secured, the badge of honour and pride are the priority. Those who suggest it should be the other way round are living in a make-believe word. Survival is mankind’s biggest urge, everything else follows in the wake of a secure future.
Those who are in it for money alone wouldn’t survive for long.
There is this concern about reduced skills in a budding cricketer. I disagree. The Twenty20 format is vastly different from Test cricket. Not everyone can hit big sixes or bowl defensively. Those who are not good can keep polishing their skills for the bigger format.
It’s also presumptuous to believe that money would be the preserve of a select few. It’s a properly structured vision and you would see infrastructure of the game taking a massive step forward — coaching clinics and less-privileged cricketers being groomed.
The public at large and media shouldn’t get cynical. The game’s authorities are conscious of their responsibilities. India has emerged as the powerhouse of world cricket and ought to take lead in the game’s development.
As a cricketer, I share the concern on burnout. At no stage am I suggesting that one doesn’t need to safeguard. A mammoth revolution like this could-and wouldcrop up issues. Already, “fences” are being created to ensure they don’t affect the game and the people get wholesome entertainment. Cricket in this country hasn’t really grown into a family outing in big metros. The IPL could fast forward it. Those who truly believe in the game’s welfare need to join hands. Tapping new financial streams for the game can’t be such a bad thing for the sport. It only needs good management and I am sure IPL would show the way. Cricket as a sport has ailed for long: it hasn’t grown beyond a few countries.
It can all change with dynamism of this sort: it only asks all of us to help in whatever way we can.
Member, IPL governing body