THE IPL launch has been spectacular, with celebrities occupying prime seating and cricket's TV rating rocking. For everyone involved with this tournament there is something new to learn but it is interesting how different people have different takes on the IPL.
The players see the demanding format as a challenge that tests more than technique and temperament. They realise the, in this game, it is necessary to be multi-skilled to be able to do a bit of this and plenty more of that.
Dennis Lillee thinks too much fuss is being made of this all-round angle; a good player is a good player regardless of what he is playing. A coach says Twenty20 is about intuition, innovation and movement.
Cricket officials also face new challenges as they put together a tournament that has an altogether distinctive character. The franchisees have come into cricket with fresh ideas and aggressive strategies to monetise opportunities.
But not all cleverly manufactured plans succeed and Arun Jaitley, politician and administrator who has his finger firmly on the pulse, made an interesting observation on how things are rolling out.
Sitting in his box at the renovated Kotla, soaking in the electric atmosphere of an absorbing contest under floodlights, Jaitley said cricket has moved from ww (wicket and willow) to www, the world of internet/computers and spreadsheets.
But the cosmetic makeover has had only marginal impact and his verdict is the change will be slow and the old and new will coexist.
In such situations, match tickets for instance should be sold through the net, and also from banks and other conventional retail outlets.
Twenty20 is positioned as an alliance of cricket and entertainment, and while some like the result of this union others take a dim view. In their opinion, entertainment is a peripheral activity, only an add-on, and ultimately the product has to deliver quality. But whatever position one takes — for or against — there is no denying it has enormous popular appeal and people love it.
Even critics concede T20 is a mass entertainer, a huge box office hit.
More than anything else, this is a tribute to the power of Indian cricket. The Indian Premier League can succeed big time only in India because it enjoys the support of corporate financial muscle and an exploding media network.
It might take long for franchisees to create a connect with fans and build loyalties similar to the football model in Europe but that is not an immediate concern. What counts is the crowds should have a ball and for sponsors not to be disappointed — as long as India continues to cheer cricket there is nothing to worry.