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Saturday, September 19, 2009

IPL

The second edition of the Indian Premier League is underway. The teams are the same but the location is different. This edition is being held in South Africa since general elections are being held in India. In a country of such size, large and diverse in both area and population, voting will take a full month to complete. In such a tension charged atmosphere there is barely enough security to keep the voters safe and certainly none are left over to take on the duty of keeping order during the cricket matches.

South Africa, having offered , seemed to be a logical enough choice. The Indian population there is among the largest in the world in terms of numbers. But is it enough to make up for the home support that will be missed? The players who participated in the last edition of the tournament all spoke glowingly of the lively atmosphere and the importance of the supporters and the lift that it gave them. With all the matches being played outside of India, each match is in effect an away match for both teams. As interested as the supporters in South Africa may be they will never approach the devotion of the home supporters and it seems that some of the initial appeal of the tournament is lacking.

Another question that raises itself is why the tournament could not have been postponed. The teams are all based in Indian cities. It is reasonable to assume that whichever team wins would return with the trophy to their respective city and massive celebrations would ensue. Very few people in the city however would have seen a match played by their team in person. Why then is the tournament being run? Is it that it generates such international appeal that it cannot be postponed or that the local support is only a part of the intended audience.

The international impact is undoubted, every team is dominated by International superstars, the limit to the amount each team has is determined only by the financial power of the team. How Indian then is the IPL? Several players have retired from international cricket but still play in this league, since they have no previous ties with the city then it is surely only the wages that make them turn out for these games. Is this the right message to send out to young players? Would it not be better to pick a first –class player from the city even if he has not yet achieved international status? Some teams have done this, but they seem to be in the minority.

20/20 is undoubtedly the most popular form of cricket and nowhere is that more apparent than in India. The IPL, if viewed solely from a marketing perspective, is capitalizing on a new trend (the trend of 20/20 cricket) by merging it with established sporting methods (city based teams). The teams need to play to the best of their ability for the credibility of the tournament to be established and so far the tournament seems to have its credibility set in stone. No one can accuse the players of being anything other than competitive and the matches are played with a full desire to win.

However, as much as the administrators would like to market the sport on the world stage and bring it to a larger international market, the tournament is an Indian tournament with teams from Indian cities. As international as the teams are it would have been more appropriate, or at least been more understanding to the fans, to postpone the tournament and at least give each team a chance to play before their own fans.

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