IPL will have to adjust to impulses it has released
The IPL was a smash hit but others have taken a hard knock because of the six-week long cricket celebration. Popularity of weepy saas-bahu serials dropped, footfalls in busy city malls declined, and multiplexes saw an alarming slump in collections.
Dhoni says he lost weight because of tension, Sehwag too felt the heat. Sreesanth enjoyed the whirl but, at times, was not sure which city he was playing in. Bishan Bedi slammed the tournament in very strong terms and Rahul Dravid expressed concern for Test cricket. That remains to be seen but IPL proved that cricket is king, and sells on its own, while the entertainment is fine but, ultimately, peripheral. Even filmstars now grasp the power of cricket and understand there is huge value in being seen at a match. They hunger for publicity and cricket provides that in abundance. Cricket is national headlines, and page 3!
With the IPL, cricket moved forward. Now onwards players will show more energy as they shed their inhibitions. This will impact 50-50 games and Test cricket down the line. We could, as a result of 20-20, have scores of 400 in a 50-over game, or 400 from 90 in a day of Test cricket.
But the IPL also raises concerns and the selectors, for instance, are a worried lot. They have to take notice of IPL performances, considering the high quality of cricket, even though this is not quite the real thing. The IPL raises tricky questions. Is Siddharth Trivedi, a Ranji medium pacer, superior to Munaf Patel and Pankaj Singh? Is Manpreet Gony better than VRV and Praveen Kumar?
Admittedly, it is possible for a mediocre player to have a happy half hour in a 20-over game but there is also a reverse argument — how do you explain the consistent failure of some regular India players?
Going forward, post IPL, one shudders to think about the fate of regular cricket. The alarm bells are already ringing loudly with complete disinterest in the current New Zealand-England series, and the Test matches featuring Australia and West Indies.
Even the IPL will have to adjust to the impulses it has released. The IPL has opened up ticket pricing as never before, the top-end tickets for the finals were in the Rs. 25,000-35,000 range. Next season onwards such prices will become the norm for key games. Merchandising is another potential money-spinner. Much has been said, spoken and written about the IPL being the ultimate alliance of cricket and entertainment. In the present day commercial world such a marriage was inevitable, and cricket has benefited from the invasion of fresh ideas and thought. In India, films always sold, so did cricket. Now that they have come together, the numbers are understandably astonishing.
Amrit Mathur, Former manager On the IPL