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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

IPL is like taking the lift to the top instead of stairs | Opinion

For domestic players, IPL is a unique tuition with fabulous perks of watching top stars and sharing the dugout with legends

ipl-2017 Updated: Mar 30, 2017 10:10 IST
Amrit Mathur
Amrit Mathur
The IPL has benefited players from the fringes such as Paul Valthaty, who played for Kings XI Punjab from 2009-13.
The IPL has benefited players from the fringes such as Paul Valthaty, who played for Kings XI Punjab from 2009-13. (AFO)

Since one of the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) objective was to promote domestic cricket, there was widespread hope that better days would arrive for ordinary first-class cricketers.

For the foot soldiers of Indian cricket, this seemed a game-changing moment. The IPL promised everything they dreamt of --- job reservation (because of seven Indians in the playing-eleven rule), a massive platform to perform and a chance to share a dressing room with legends. Not to forget the delicious sweetener, annual contracts that provided financial security.

Read | IPL 2017: Royal Challengers Bangalore likely to miss injured Virat Kohli

The entire package was irresistible but nine years since its launch, the question arises has IPL delivered for domestic cricketers?

The answer depends on the prism through which one looks at it and the filters applied to capture the real picture. The business construct of IPL ensures the BCCI and owner/promoter of the league is risk protected and assured of a handsome profit from the sale of media rights and central sponsorships. The entire business risk stands transferred to the private owners of teams. The BCCI, conscious of the merits of vote bank politics, shares its surplus with its constituents, the state associations.

Read | No problem playing under Glenn Maxwell in IPL despite tiff: Wriddhiman Saha

If IPL was supposed to shower riches on domestic players, this is yet to happen. The beginning was encouraging as domestic players were contracted outside the auction and teams went on a recruiting spree, driven also by a clever motive to starve competition of young Indian talent. Later, when rules changed to draft domestic players into auctions the hiring slowed down.

Contrary to expectations, IPL’s commercial boom has touched only a few domestic players. This season, 135 Indian cricketers are contracted with teams. Of these, approximately 50 are international players who are already financially secure. Only 48 players are at the minimum IPL wage (Rs 10 lakh) and another 14 are in the Rs 10-30 lakh range.

Read | Kolkata Knight Riders did the right thing at IPL auctions: Gautam Gambhir

Once these numbers are analysed, the stark truth is rich Indian cricketers have become richer and only 25 or so domestic players (out of a pool of 1000-odd who feature in senior BCCI tournaments representing 28 teams) have come into life-changing money.

Yet, if not financially, India’s domestic cricketers have benefitted massively from the IPL. For young players, it’s a money-can’t-buy experience, a unique tuition with fabulous perks of watching top players up close and sharing the dressing room populated by legends. For them, the IPL is a six-week cricket masterclass in the best finishing school of the world.

The benefits of this priceless experience are clearly visible as the IPL-trained generation of Indian cricketers is physically fit, self confident and mentally strong. Nothing fazes them, least of all reputation, and being on the back-foot is not an option anymore.

But ultimately it’s the opportunity to perform that matters. For any young ambitious player, the IPL is a fantastic tournament that fast-tracks careers -- it is like taking a lift instead of the steps to reach the top!

(Amrit Mathur is a senior cricket writer and has been involved with IPL in official capacity)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author

First Published: Mar 30, 2017 09:48 IST