That the Indian Premier League is a success is not in doubt. The concept of condensing in 40 overs all that is best in cricket may sound hideous to the purist, but to the uninitiated and to audiences bored with the K serials and the mediocre fare dished out by the TV industry, the sound of the ball being struck with brutal force and sent into orbit repeatedly has found many takers.
There are many questions that still need answers and the final word on the commercial viability of an event of such gigantic magnitude has not been heard yet. Once the tournament is over, there will be a more realistic evaluation of the profits made. At the moment the only thing certain is that the Indian Board is laughing its way to the bank.
They had made a killing even before the first ball was bowled through a whopping TV deal and the money they got from the franchises for buying the teams. The rest have invested so heavily that most of them would still not make money out of it, despite the “grand” success of the tournament.
But all this will be known only once the true figures are revealed and that will happen only after the tournament is over, so let us not lose sleep over it.
What I find very intriguing is the manner in which most of the media, print as well as electronic, is reporting the event. It is almost as if they are partners in the show, otherwise how can one explain the absence of any criticism of the format or the organizers or other issues which may be wrong and need correction.
The electronic media thrives on stories of nepotism, corruption and wrong doings of officials.
They even create one where none exists, that is why the silence on stories concerning the dynamic Lalit Modi and a few other Board officials, which may not show them in good light, is a bit baffling. When a newspaper did a front-page story, giving details of Modi's relatives owning the Jaipur and Mohali teams or how a few other officials have their relatives running the show, no one picked up the story.
When we in HT did a story that how Modi's drug-tainted past and other allegations of his having taken over the reins of the Rajasthan Cricket Association through “fraudulent” means have been challenged in the court of law and the Supreme Court is hearing the case, again a deathly silence greeted the story. Instead of following up the story, what was being questioned was the motive and timing behind the story.
Even something that could have a far-reaching impact on the future of world cricket has been completely ignored. Isn't it a bit mystifying that an unfit Sachin Tendulkar may have played in the IPL under pressure of the franchise, thus aggravating his injury which resulted in his opting out of the Indian team, has been completely ignored by the media (though HT did splash it on the front page.)
Same is the case with Zaheer Khan, who too played the tournament nursing an injury and is now out of the team. I won't be surprised if we detect more injuries once the final is over and more key players are forced to opt out of the Bangladesh tri-series.
We could well argue that the players have every right in this free-market to chose between club and the nation, but why ignore the debate?
It does seem to me that in this marriage of commerce, entertainment and profits, the winner in the end has been the all-swaying power of the corporate and the loser the Indian middle class. Losers, because in their dream to become part of a globalised world of which, they believe, the franchise-owned, money-spinning club leagues are an important ingredient, they are being deprived of genuine debate.
A debate that in the end may only enrich IPL, as it might lead to some course corrections, which would be mutually beneficial to the investors, the paying public and the players.