Certain things in life are best described only through clichés. Love it, hate it, laud it, loathe, curse it or cheer it - you just can’t ignore IPL, such has been the unmistakable appeal of the new paradigm in cricket-centric entertainment. What began as a counter attack on the rebellious Indian Cricket League was well received by the classes and the masses alike. For the puritans, the presence of cheerleaders and celebrities was needless color but even the worst critics kept pace with the proceedings - at least for the first three years of the long run.
Jaded cricketers missing out key national encounters, copybook game losing its shine, the din of enthusiasts deafening expert debates, management games off the field overshadowing the game in the middle… there’re scores of factors to pin down this furiously fast format. Yet, there are many redeeming features that are as emulating as they are entertaining. Let’s take stock of a few prominent ones:
Playground of seamless co-existence
The IPL has truly crossed boundaries that geographically divide nations. Ever imagined Chris Gayle giving music lessons to Virat Kohli or ever thought of Malinga as an indispensible as Sachin Tendulkar to the team of Mumbai Indians. All the four editions of the glittery tournament have captured rare moments of global harmony that will remain etched in memory. For a nation that breathes cricket as a way of life, this cricketing globalization has raised the benchmarks for the game apart from promoting sportsmanship and camaraderie that has successfully steered spectators clear of nasty parochialism and prejudiced support.
Comeback vehicle for forgotten players
Mohammed Kaif, Parthiv Patel, Laxmipati Balaji, R P Singh, Ajit Agarkar and Robin Utthapa - these forgotten heroes and even sidelined stars like Delhi’s Ranji warhorse Mithun Minhas owe IPL everything for the god sent lease of life. Not only have their commercial possibilities looked up, they also have salvaged good pride - pride that may fall short of getting some back in the national team but would still mean the world to them.
Platform for young achievers
Had it not been for the IPL, names like Rahul Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Paul Valthathy, Shadab Jakati and Manish Pandey would never have hogged the limelight in such hurricane fashion. These young lads have fully capitalized on the one-of-its-kind opportunity that came their way and are now knocking on the doors of the almighty selectors.
Catalyst for innovation
Strategic timeouts and effective penalties for eventualities like slow overrate...these smart innovations have changed the course of the game in a short span of time. And the conducive environment has helped cricketers think out of the box...no wonder; several myths have been exploded in the process - several senior cricketers have tweaked their style to suit the new game (Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Murali, Anil Kumble, Kallis), spinners have emerged as match winners (Kumble, Ashwin, Rahul Sharma, Amit Mishra) and pace bowlers are now seen as crucial game changers (Lasith Malinga, Dale Steyn, Munaf Patel)
Blend of entertainment and excellence
On one side is the music and the madness, on the other is the talent and the temperament - the IPL has room for everything. We have celebrities and cheer leaders encroaching on the playground and we also see players resorting to drama and antics to win attention. And yet, amidst the deafening din of the colossal cheer, we witness talent at its towering best in all aspects of the game - we see a Chris Gayle bat with such flair that will hold in any form of the game, a Lasith Malinga disturbing the batsman’s furniture with amazing regularity, a Kieron Pollard leap at the ball with such unbelievable agility that looks like the outcome of astute trick photography and a M S Dhoni marshalling his troops to such victories that seem like a foregone conclusion.