Why compare the ICC World T20 event with the IPL? Anyone who understands cricket would give his right arm for the bigger, mature and more accomplished contest of the two. No doubt, the ICC version comes across as the plain-Jane of the T20 format, especially after the swankier IPL. The complaints about WT20 being stale, however, could not be cricketing but purely commercial & logistical.
The World T20 is happening immediately after the IPL, and there has been an overdose of this format. There’s bound to be viewer fatigue. Devout followers will still watch, but they would choose their games. To cater to the Indian audience, matches start at 9.30am local time (7pm IST). But is it fair to expect locals and tourists to flock the stadium at that time? For example, St. Lucia, where India played league matches, is a small tourist destination. How can you expect the tourists to wake up and be at the ground at 8am? The atmosphere in the stadium goes for a toss.
Unfortunately, even starting early isn’t solving all problems. The second game starts at 11pm IST, which means the match goes on till 2.30am. Regardless of however good the match is, most in India would turn-off their TV sets after midnight during weekdays. Because they are all day games, the idea of donning coloured clothing and playing with white ball, actually meant for night games, is affecting the visual appeal.
Since IPL is an Indian tournament with Indian players, a decent turnout in every stadium is guaranteed. But that’s not the case in the West Indies. Yes, they might come in droves to watch their home team , but one can’t blame them for not turning for India-Afghanistan game.
We should be talking about cricket, not the paraphernalia. Obviously, we’ve been somewhat blinded by the glitz. But if comparisons are inevitable, then the WCT20 sweeps it away hands down — firstly, there’s no bigger honour than representing your country and there’s no bigger charm than rooting for your country. Secondly, the quality of cricket played in the World T20 is definitely a lot better than that of the IPL, and for obvious reasons. The clash is always amongst the equals and you’re always bowling to or batting against a quality player. I’m sure that the charm won’t be wasted on the followers only if the timing and venue are more appropriate.