In our enthusiasm to praise we use words such as master, legend and classic. The all-time favourite to describe anything good is called world class.
Surely, some Indians deserve to be in this elite league - Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid because they are really up there, and in other disciplines there are champions like Viswanathan Anand, Pankaj Advani, Jeev Milkha Singh and a few others.
Indian sport has made spectacular progress lately but does any sporting event come anywhere near to being world class? The IPL is the closest we have to global standards. It is mounted on a huge scale and the value it has created in two years to be the world’s sixth biggest sporting property is astonishing. Such is its appeal that the best talent in the world is pushing to be a part of it, ready to abandon team/club and country if need be.
But the IPL is yet to achieve world-class standards. To do that, progress is needed in overall conduct and in providing a friendly experience to the fans and spectators. At present, we are far from this. It is a challenge to find parking at the ground, get past security and claim a seat that cost serious money.
Major events like the FIFA World Cup, Wimbledon and Formula One pay attention to fans and over the years have perfected arrangements for players, sponsors and media.
An example of how quickly this can be achieved is the Race To Dubai, staged at the Jumeirah Golf Estates. It was planned, constructed and made operational within five years. The facility (consisting of four courses) opened with this stunning $15 million event, supported by Dubai World which put in substantial money despite the economic downturn because “ it is for Dubai”.
The world’s best golfers were on display, competing in an event where conditions were outstanding. On the course, officials ensured the players were not disturbed (cameras and mobiles were a strict no - no) but away from the fairways, in the sponsors pavilions and hospitality tents, it was a carnival. Seen walking with the winner Lee Westwood, was Andrew Flintoff, in Dubai to recover from his injuries.
Just as the IPL is much more than cricket, the Race to Dubai is ultimately about commerce, and most of the expensive villas that surround the course have been bought. Jumeirah is the hot new up- market address in a city that itself is pretty up-market.