Despite the menacing “whereabouts” clause acting a spoilsport, it was time for the Indian board to share its spoils with the players. Its hefty bank balance is being generously doled out and no one should complain.
No one should also grudge cricketers making profitable use of a well-earned rest after a cricket calendar that stretched into eternity. For the lucky few on top of the charts, it has been a time to mingle with the world of glamour and act in front of the cameras to help companies sell their wares and bloat their own bank balances.
Creaky bones and jaded minds are earning a desperately needed rest before they get back to another cycle of non-stop play, which, in its final stretch, can be torturous, like last season.
Post the second IPL, India suffered the embarrassment of being knocked out of the T20 World Cup even before the semifinals. They also had to bear the consequences of a cruel schedule which resulted in injuries to key players. Suddenly, a potential world champion side appeared listless and lacking in motivation.
But before his voice was silenced by an authoritarian administration that hates to be shown the mirror, the Indian coach showed the courage to do some plain speaking, blaming the timing of the IPL as one reason for his players losing their way. Gary Kirsten said, importantly, that he wanted the Indian players not to play in the IPL in future, if it was immediately followed by the World Cup. The 2010 World Cup begins in the West Indies on April 30, a mere five days after the IPL.
Wouldn’t the Indian team be tired and jaded? Isn’t there a strong possibility of history repeating itself?
One is not sure whether the BCCI’s working committee, apart from counting its pennies and patting itself for having become a million-dollar corporate entity, gave any thought to this problem.
I am sure that when the IPL itinerary was chalked out, these issues would have been kept in mind. So, in the larger interest of Indian cricket, will Kirsten’s suggestion now be taken with the seriousness it deserves, or will the interest of the franchises and broadcasters be the deciding factor?
I know I will be accused of being either too naïve or too clever for raising this point. After all, we all know that the interests of those who fatten the golden goose will be of paramount importance.
So instead of being a spoilsport, why not I suggest that the IPL governing council should have expanded the tournament next year itself instead of waiting a year more? Two more teams, 34 more games in the same number of days — 45 — I know the sponsors and the broadcasters must be salivating. Since the money to be earned is huge, the players won’t protest.
As long as there is a captive TV audience of lakhs endorsing this product, who cares if the World Cup is not even held!