The Indian Premier League (IPL) has taken the Twenty-20 Cricket's popularity to dizzying heights. The IPL fever has gripped the minds of the people in its full intensity. When the Twenty-20 cricket was on, IPL and its probable winner was one _ of the hottest topics of discussion everywhere. Many people are of the view that it is one of the best things that ever happens to the game of cricket. In fact IPL has become so popular worldwide that Australian Captain Ricky Pointing had to issue an appeal to his countrymen to focus more on their national team's recent series with West Indies than to watch their retired cricketers perform in IPL. The entire IPL tournament was broadcast in Australia as free-to-air and it had become a huge craze.
With the invention of Twenty-20 matches, the cricket has become an industry now. This industry has evidently stretched India's economic liberalization to ludicrous lengths. We had DLF-IPL flogging Twenty-20 matches as entertainment product that sold to cricket consumers by the seat - costing anything between Rs. 200 to Rs.5000 per fixture in Chennai. A season ticket was cost Rs 30,000/-(Chennai rates).
Seven other cities also franchised by the league promoters mainly to corporate helmed by folk such as Mukesh Ambani and Vijay Mallya; and Bollywood celebs Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla (jointly holding Kolkata franchise) and Preity Zinta (part-holder of Mohali franchise). These people had paid-big money. Mallya was reported to have paid $111.6 million for Bangalore and spent another Rs.15.2 core acquiring players for the city team.
Players were auctioned and even the game was mutilated in form and substance to suit the requirements of a day/night fixture. Imagine the power bill involved in such a match. Cricket, as most lovers of the sport envisage, used to be a day-light game. Haven't we seen Test matches being curtailed by poor natural light? We haven't checked if they had a fixture on April 22; and if 'Earth Day' enthusiasts have plans to protest such conspicuous power consumption in the name of cricket.
We also heard that IPL promoters tried to dictate terms to the media, laying down conditions for newspaper coverage and tried to put a cap on the number of action photographs a newspaper can upload to its web editions. No self-respecting newspaper editor could be expected to accept such conditions: What's more, the league promoters claimed unfettered access to media material and visuals as a free lunch; and this, they demanded as a right, to be fulfilled by the media at its cost.
IPL promoters or the franchise holders did' not even appear to care for the interests of spectators. In my reckoning the Twenty-20 league organizers take for granted a multitude of their customers - cricket-loving public. May be IPL is aping the US business model for sports such as baseball, basketball or football. Is anyone addressing the issue whether turning cricket into a mega-buck entertainment business is conducive to our socio-economic reality? Besides, is it such a good idea to let a real-estate developer transplant in India a business model for cricket (which is almost a religion with our sport-loving multitude) for the benefit of a bunch of investors and a select group of auctioned .. Players. If this Twenty-20 league gets going, it would not be long before we have multinational investors and take over tycoons evincing interest in India's cricketing entertainment prospects.
It is for sure that in cricket crazy nation like India popularity and craze for Twenty-20 will surpass the One Day International and that is the reason why rebel Zee Group has also started with Twenty-20 and BCCI has also mulling over in this direction. England had also announced hike of 25 per cent in the Twenty-20 games from next season. So Twenty-20 seems the future of cricket which is capable to revolutionize and globalize the game.
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