Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mother tongue

When I call my parents in India, I usually do so in the daytime (nightime in India). For years and years, after the general introductory chit-chat, the topic of discussion has usually turned to books recently read, internet sites recently visited, and occasionally, TV shows being watched.

Then came the IPL...

Say what you will about the IPL (and I can say a lot of things against it) it changed the way TV was watched in millions of households in India for 45 days. My mother would tell me about feats that batsmen had performed, wickets that bowlers had taken, catches that fielders had snared, required run-rates, chances of making semi-finals, strategies that should be adopted, and even the fact that the cheerleaders in the ICL were superior to the IPL - everything was up for discussion!! The Deccan Chargers laid an egg but it did not matter to my parents who had a blast with the tournament.

But before Lalit Modi sprains his neck patting himself on his back, here's the catch. My parents were EVEN MORE excited about the ICL, to an extent because the Hyderabad Heroes were winning it all, but mainly because they cared more about these players, because of their pariah status. Alfred Absolem took 7 wickets in just four overs for the Heroes, but like the fictional Bhuvan, his feat may forever be consigned to the scrap heap, to be conveneintly forgotten in time.

So the winner here is not the IPL - it is Twenty20 cricket. Consuming just 3 hours (when the captains stick to the prescribed over-rates, that is) in the evening, it is the perfect length and compresses a lot of action in that time. What's not to like about a format that encourages interest in the game? Well, the proverb about the goose that lays the golden egg comes to mind.

Lalit Modi is already touting the idea of having two IPL seasons in one year. He will do well to read up on some economics, especially the Law of Diminishing Returns.

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