It is no longer a question whether the Indian Premier League is a winner. It's a massive, massive hit and we are witnessing probably the biggest moment of the game yet. Not since the bat acquired its modern shape and the ball its five and a half ounce weight has the game seen anything as big as the IPL.
The Packer era might have meant better wages for cricketers and the introduction of floodlights and coloured clothing and all, but the game's appeal was still limited to a few nations. Now it's changed forever. Club-ownership, auctioning of players would have global appeal. You would now see cricket really taking roots in those so-called "non-traditional" countries. I never thought in my life I would witness something as stunning as the IPL. Can you imagine a player from France or Nigeria or for that matter from Afghanistan playing in the IPL in the future?
Only a visionary could have pulled it off and Lalit Modi must be complimented for staging such an audacious coup. I am part of the governing council and can't care if my views are seen as biased. He is Moses of the game who has shown the path to blazing success. I am just staggered by what it would do to the game, the administration, the widening base, the new converts and new investors. It's like a wild bush that has suddenly caught fire and its flames are blazing the sky. The possibility is endless. The connect with Bollywood is a masterstroke as Shah Rukh Khan has already demonstrated.
Of course, with every breath of success, the morsel of satisfaction we all are partaking, we need to keep reminding ourselves that a few basic precautions must never go. The sanctity of Test cricket must never be eroded for it provides the base for the game's fresh talents to be honed. Money is important but that alone shouldn't be the goal of the youngsters. There are still better values to aspire for — the badge of honour of your country which you wear on your chest, the strive for perfection which is the most noble emotion of all things human.
I do foresee a huge decline of one-day internationals though. In two similar formats of instant cricket, T20 would have better appeal for all. For someone like Sachin Tendulkar, his records would stay in ODI history forever. Nobody would now get to play as many ODIs as he did.
The success of IPL has so much to do with the quality of cricket we have witnessed. Some outstanding knocks, magical spell from the game's masters like Shane Warne showed the other night, some new faces who have caught the eye have all added to its appeal. I must concede I am a little taken aback by the intensity the players have shown. A few youngsters such as Ashok Dinda, Ravinder Jadeja, Dinesh Salunkhe and Wriddhiman Saha have suddenly been catapulted from obscurity to instant stardom.
Just imagine how much these new names would add to the growing pool of quality cricketers in India. Better competition would mean better cricketers and it would add to India's growing might in coming years, nay months!