Ten years on, IPL needs to re-energise and move ahead | Opinion
One view suggests IPL should reboot to focus on its core – cricket and move away from the lure of cash, celebrities and cheerleaders. Fans buy tickets to watch top players play competitive cricket, they would welcome a renewed focus on essentials instead of peripherals.ipl 2017 Updated: May 25, 2017 10:40 IST
IPL10 is done, Mumbai Indians own the trophy, the noise has subsided, and lights dimmed. After 10 years, it is time to give IPL a critical look.
It is a great product but like anything in the slippery landscape of shifting consumer preferences, it must update itself. A makeover will ensure IPL maintains its appeal and not erode its support base. If the IPL was a corporate entity, the top management would be in a huddle to strengthen its future.
The key is to stay ahead of the curve and run faster. That’s why mobile/car/ watch manufacturers keep offering new models with new features. After 10 years, IPL’s cricket-tainment package looks frayed and somewhat tattered. With fatigue setting in, the 60-match six-week tournament is looking for the next big idea. How long can you keep walking the same walk and playing the same record?
One view suggests IPL should reboot to focus on its core – cricket and move away from the lure of cash, celebrities and cheerleaders. Fans buy tickets to watch top players play competitive cricket, they would welcome a renewed focus on essentials instead of peripherals.
To polish its image, IPL should present a more caring, responsible face. Most of its controversies have arisen from an excessive focus on cash, so it’s time to adopt a charity and contribute to a socially-relevant initiative. Various city marathons do excellent work in this space --- why should cricket be left behind?
Until now, Indian cricket’s efforts in this field have been tentative and hesitant. Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni support uniformed forces as ‘brand ambassadors’ but the power of celebrities could be better used if formally structured into the IPL.
The IPL should also consider serious cricket-related changes. There is a growing feeling that legislation is needed to protect bowlers from batting savagery. Shane Warne tossed up an innovative idea where field restrictions stay but four bowlers bowl five overs each. This would ensure more quality bowling and remove an attack’s ‘weak links’.
A better option perhaps is to allow the fielding team captain to give an extra (fifth) over to a bowler. This flexibility makes the game tighter by removing some predictability about the bowling changes and force captains to rethink strategy. Teams hoping to target a particular bowler at the death may be surprised by finding someone different in the 19th.
The IPL must also live up to its promise of promoting domestic cricket and make a material, measurable contribution. Currently, IPL profits are shared with state units which do not reach the poorly paid 1000-odd domestic players. Why not portion some IPL profit to increase domestic match fees? Plus, domestic players also need respect for their achievements. The IPL could invite past greats like Amol Muzumdar, Sitanshu Kotak, Bhaskar Pillai to the toss or presentation ceremonies to acknowledge their contribution.
(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.