Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bleeding heart

A few years ago, I decided not to pay attention to the IPL indirectly because of one man - Lalit Modi. Paradoxically, in the past few days, I have started paying more attention to the IPL because of the same man.

Unfortunately, it is not the cricketing news that I am interested in. How sad.

Lest people think I have a grudge against the cricket in the IPL, let me clarify that I do not. The ICL/IPL model had three things going for it that pleased me immensely:
  • Brought new fans to the sport
  • Provided an avenue for lesser-known players to get recognized
  • Showcased the value of the skill sets of accomplished players
The first two points came to the fore when the ICL was in its first season and the IPL was but a figment in Modi's imagination. My mother would excitedly tell me about the required run-rates and batting stats of the Hyderabadi Heroes. I love to listen to her running commentary of the action. I do not recall her ever doing this when a Test match was going on (except to presciently say, अब यह आउट हो जाएगा).

A lot of bad press for the IPL has been generated in the past few days, the full details of which are too murky and will never see the light of the day. I will be shocked if it does not get shoved under the carpet. There is too much money at stake and too many fingers in too many pies for this to ever come out in the open.

A friend asked me if I was happy that the IPL was under a cloud. To their surprise, I said no. I am not happy the IPL is under a cloud. I am happy that this controversy may cause some of them to re-think the way it is run, but overall I am not happy that it may cause the IPL to crash.

My problems with the IPL were never about the cricketing action. Instead, a long time ago, I decided to not invest time and support into an enterprise that was increasingly about the show ponies and not about the cricket.

One quick point will drive home what I am trying to say: When Lalit Modi talks about how great the IPL is does he support his rationale by talking about the cricket or does he drop a dollar amount? That right there should tell you where his priorities lie.

There is nothing wrong with making money and, indeed, a successful organization should strive to maximize revenue. But along the way, in a bid to throw numbers around, each one gaudier than the previous one, the leaders of the IPL forgot that the cricket should be the selling point.

Today, the brand image of the IPL is taking a severe hit. In India it may be fine, but across the globe, folks with envious eyes are laughing and rubbing their hands in glee.

Lalit Modi and his cronies not only squeezed the golden goose, they managed to cover themselves in poop while at it. What a pity.


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