IPL – T20 Innovation or Invasion

Traditionally, innovation is seen as capacity for something new or different
introduced, but in the world of sport, especially in the context of
IPL, the term innovation has to be rather more liberal, accepting in its
sheathe more than just the new or original thought. In other words,
recent innovations in T20 cricket vis-a-vis IPL borrowing and adopting
ideas from other popular sporting leagues like National Basketball
Association (NBA) and National Football League (NFL) tend to lean on
imitation, yet irrelevant of its broad acceptance; imitation can never
be equated to innovation. From terms like private franchises, player
auctions and cheerleaders to buzzwords like strategic timeouts &
dug-out that are conventional to a NBA or a NFL follower are now
familiar with cricket followers courtesy IPL. Watts Humphrey rightly
said “Innovation is the process of turning ideas into manufacturable and
marketable form”, with its tremendous success, IPL serves as a standing
testimony to his words, boasting a billion dollar revenue generating
business that is largely targeted to benefit the investors/franchise
owners and partly the players.

Personally,
the bottom line in writing this has nothing to do with IPL’s great
capacity to spring surprises, nothing to do with its much talked about
glorious future. On the other hand, it has to do with what have taken on
the nightmarish dimensions of a dark reality – Cricket will never be
the same. But this is a harsh reality that is not easy to deal with for
the great sport’s many puritans, who often love the game more for
quality than for cheap entertainment. What started out innocuously as a
profitable vision has gained sizable force and substantial magnitude
needed to hold for large-scale and long term expansion. Truly, IPL has
invaded and deeply penetrated in all walks of T20 cricket and you just
have to scratch the surface to see it.

As it turns out, almost
all top class players from all cricket playing nations have been lured
to this wheel of fortune, forced to sign up for the league and for the
huge ransom they sign on, it would not be surprising if IPL dictates
them to put league before nation. For sure, players who once took pride
in playing for the country have succumbed to the pressures of IPL. As a
matter of fact, the very dimension of the sport has changed, making it a
highly demanding and stressful one. Tight schedules and frequent
travels are not expected to help the player’s cause anyways. But then
the real question is what drives them to return fit as a fiddle to play
for the league and not for the nation in its dire needs. The key to this
drive lies elsewhere and any attempt to unravel it would prove a futile
exercise.

IPL
did not seem to spare commentators either, who scream and shout at the
top of their voice making a conscious effort to contrive extraordinary
things out of ordinary stuff just so to breed a sense of drama. And
commentators here are not amateurs taking a shot on the big stage but
are who’s who in this profession brought down to the levels of ordinary
salesmen making a sales pitch to promote their product. For viewers it
definitely is an annoyance to constantly hear brand jargons like DLF
maximum (six runs hit by batsman), Karbonn Kamaal Catch, Citi Moment of
Success (bowler taking a wicket), Maxx Mobile Time-out from reputed
commentators who make a mockery of the sport in the name of
entertainment. Ultimately the greatest entertainment that this sport can
provide has to happen within the playing yards and not through the hype
and hoopla that surround it.

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