Revolution in a tale of eight cities?
In the late 70s when Kerry Packer added colour and his World Series Cricket changed the game's contours, India was a cricket nonentity. The Indian board issued a diktat to stay away from it but not even a handful of players were approached by the organisers, then on the wrong side of the establishment.
Following whims of the power that causes change, cricket's third world country then is now the one which calls the shots. Friday, the 18th will mark the beginning of the second such show that could perhaps change the way we look at the sport. If it has to thrive though, several windows in the international calendar will have to be opened since in its present routine, the IPL can't coexist with the Future Tours Programme.
That doesn't make the start any less interesting. Eager to experience it first hand and to figure out which way things are headed, journalists from different generations and different countries have assembled here. The sight of cheer girls in tiny attires evoked mixed reactions but since it hasn't even started, nobody is risking a conclusion yet.
In a way it's still difficult to believe that such a Twenty20 show is actually taking place in India. Not that it was unknown to Indians but it was unwanted till recently. India was the last country to accept that every ICC member nation has to take part in the inaugural T20 World Cup and even when a team sans the stalwarts went to South Africa, there was little more than curiosity.
Thanks to India's dramatic triumph and helped significantly by Yuvraj Singh's six sixes in an over, curiosity climaxed into hysteria before finding a way to become a gala business venture. One where players were auctioned for astronomical sums and stakeholders sold million dollar dreams. Some are saying it's not cricket, many are keeping fingers crossed, while there is also a lot that can't wait for it to start. For all of them, it's a question of waiting a little more.
Almost exactly a year after the most drab and dreadful World Cup in history, here is something that has the potential to revolutionise the commerce of cricket. Since the balance sheet is going to matter as much if not more than the scoreboard, it is appropriate that this 44-day road show ends in Mumbai. Given the city's contribution to the game, it is also appropriate from a cricket point of view.
By then we'll know whether sipping this never-before cocktail was worth it.