Has the IPL bubble finally burst?
Answer the following question and you may yourself get the answer-
>Do you know which team is currently at top of points table in IPL?
>Do you know that IPL this year has a new trophy?
>Do you know when are the finals?
>Do you even remember any particular match from this year’s season?
>Do you know the format of this year’s tournament?
>Do you know who is the chairman of IPL this season?
>Do you know which team Dele Styne plays for in IPL?
>Do you regularly watch IPL on TV?
>Are you even interested in IPL this year?
Isn’t it amazing how most of the YES have now changed to NO this year!
I have tried to put up some of the key reasons why we are getting such a dip in TV ratings and empty stands during the matches.
1. Excess of anything is bad
The death certificate of IPL was already signed when BCCI decided to coduct it just 5 days after the World Cup. Cmon not even a die hard fan can take so much dosage of cricket! We wanted to see our cricketers resting, not again playing in some domestic tournament, after giving us the biggest gift.
2. The pinnacle of everything
The World Cup win! After reaching the highest peak, everything else appears low. It was the biggest dream of every cricket fan in India and it had finally came true. And after that nothing else matters. We all wanted to further enjoy and live in our dreams. But IPL gave us very little time to even allow the feeling to sunk in. When you have just experienced how it feels to win a World Cup, can a win by Mumbai or CSK mean anything to you???? No! And when you are not emotionally attached to a match, you just can’t enjoy it!
3. Swapping of players
I support a team for three years. I support their players. I follow them. I discuss about their strenghts and weaknesses. And what happens after 3 years? The team is entirely dissolved! And you have all new players in your team. Sangakara, the captain of Punjab is now the captain of Deccan and Gilchrist the captain of Deccan is now the captain of Punjab. Gambhir the captain of Delhi is now captaining Kolkatta and the prince of Kolkatta Ganguly is playing for Pune, Pune also comprises the Punjab guy Yuvraj. Yusuf who touched the fame through Rajasthan is now with Kolkatta while Rajasthan has Banglore‘s once icon player Dravid. Whenever Gayle hits a six, I still feel he is playing for Kolkatta.
I don’t what the teams thought. But they simply acted foolishly- both in cricketing and business sense. One of the basic funda of marketing is thatyou have to keep your identity intact. But the IPL teams (barring Chennai and Mumbai) lost their identity in players auction. Not only it created confusion, teams also lost their loyal fanbase (Read: The great IPL breakup)
4. The deteriorating quality
The two new teams were added. And with the clause of maximum of 4 foreign players in a team, this meant there were 70 positions available for Indians. And that’s obvious, that not all 70 can be of international standards. Even among foreign players, there were no English, Pakistanis, West Indians (barring Gayle) and most of the Australians. Thats why probably you had so many dropped catches!
5. The row over pitch
In one match, you have teams chasing down targets in excess of 200. Then in another match, team faces difficulty in achieving 100 runs only! It was required that pitches should have been uniform with only slight variations. Such inconsistency, puts people off.
6. The longer and confusing format
Even team is supposed to play 2 matches with every other team. Yet you have a team only playing 14 matches in a league of 10 teams. This is because a team plays two matches with 5 teams and only one with other 4. Nobody had the clue which team will play which team and how many teams. Everything was all so confusing. Even the semi-final stage has been twisted and made more complicated.
7. Where are the nail-bitters?
It is expected that shorter the version of cricket, more close finishes it will have. But except the first game, not even a single game had gone down to wire. If a sporting can’t give you adrenaline rush, it’s a waste!
There was either no competition for top 4 slot. Only about at the half stage of league, 4 teams to make it to the semis were clear and it was only a formality left to go through the next half.
8. Missing media buzz
For good or bad reasons, IPL had always remained on the front page during the first three season. Its coverage used to begin from weeks before its actual commencement. Call it the World Cup effect or the lack of glitters from IPL (the opening ceremony was so plain!), this time the IPL buzz just didn”t go around. From hours of non-stop coverage, it was reduced to only a scroll at the bottom of the screen.
9. We missed Lalit Modi
Love him or hate him, but you can’t deny that he was the face of IPL. Under him, IPL was an ambitious project with different ideas and innovations. It was something larger than life. Now, it only appears to be a monotonously managed business.
10. The IPL controversies
There was Modi vs Tharoor, then there was exit of Modi, IT raiding IPL offices, and then there were suspension of teams, followed by court orders to revoke the suspensions. Latest acquisition by Shane Warne over pitch makes you wonder if all teams actually get equal opportunity. While controversies surrounding players, attract more eye balls, these internal politics are only sore for the eyes!
Here, I would also to make a point that its only the 2011 season which has failed, not the whole of the IPL. IPL is still the future of cricket and nothing has affected its viability in the long run. But certain things are required to be taken care of for fututre seasons-
- Have a clear window in the calender for IPL
- Such swapping of the whole teams should be avoided in future
- Allow pakistanis to participate in next season. They add that extra spice in the whole league.
- Spend some money on advertisement, for creating a buzz.
- Don’t forget only way to have IPL at par with EPL or NBA is by creation of team loyalities
- Don’t let the standard of cricket fall, even if it means taking the I for India away from IPL
- Most importantly, don’t forget, IPL is still all about cricket!
This season is only a correction, and a message for business houses that IPL is no longer a money-making machine. You will earn money only if you will perform well and make your strategies with cricket in mind.
I am eagerly waiting for the IPL’s next season to see what BCCI and team franchisees will do to bring IPL on track. What do you think? Will the next season of IPL again be a success?