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Wrong to expect selfless dedication from players

The IPL is done and dusted but its side-effects are being felt across the cricket world. In India, the club versus country debate showed up our inherent discomfort with embracing the commercial reality of sport.

india Updated: Jun 03, 2011 01:16 IST
Amrit Mathur

The IPL is done and dusted but its side-effects are being felt across the cricket world. In India, the club versus country debate showed up our inherent discomfort with embracing the commercial reality of sport. Though the debate threw up larger issues, it reinforced the thought that we still feel money is bad.

Still, to expect sportspersons to dedicate themselves selflessly to the nation (thus play for glory and pride alone) is asking for too much. Successful sportspersons reach the top after enormous hard work and sacrifice, would they do this without adequate reward? Sorry, it does not work like that.

The IPL has other worries to contend with. This season, television ratings took a hit, tickets did not move as expected and somehow the buzz was missing.

Many games lacked sizzle, and despite the legendary appetite of Indian fans, it was difficult for them to swallow the amount of cricket the IPL dished out. Unlike past years, life did not stop because of the IPL, there was no Bharat bandh, reality shows found viewers, families did not suspend social commitments in the evening to sit glued to the television to watch the Chennai Super Kings win.

Sensing the dip in demand, film producers decided to release films - which, till last year, would have been box office suicide. IPL's side-effects are also being felt in countries other than India.

In Sri Lanka, players and authorities adopted conflicting positions on going on an official tour.

In the West Indies, with Chris Gayle, there was a bizarre self versus country controversy. Australia is set to roll out its own IPL later this year and something major is about to erupt in England too.

But whatever happens elsewhere, the key is how the IPL evolves in India.

From a cricket standpoint, some domestic talent (Paul Valthaty, Rahul Sharma and S Aravind) emerged but spare a thought for those who made a mark in the previous seasons but dropped off the radar this year.

Also, on the business side, the IPL needs a fresh spark to maintain its viability. At present, it appears threatened by mounting costs and diminishing spectator interest.