Cricket is a literature sport. We rarely see so many biographies or autobiographies of legends of any sport than we see in cricket. It was always billed as a gentlemen’s sport.
The era of WG Grace, Sir Don Bradman, and Sir Jack Hobbs culminated in the popularity of the sport to spread to all the colonies of the British Empire. The South Africans became adept at cricket, India had a team of their own, it was gaining supreme popularity in the Caribbean and the younger siblings of India, viz Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh also took to the sport with a lot of passion.
ODI cricket has given the sport a pan continent appeal and the turning moment for the financial clout of an earlier non-rewarding sport was India winning the Prudential World-cup in 1983 whichmultiplied the following of an already cricket frenzy nation to the extent that India became the financial capital of the game.
In the mid 2000s, another variant of the game resurfaced which started to turn people’s heads. The T20, England was again the pioneer of this variant and the world soon caught up. ICC decided that they will have a T20 world cup as well in 2007. India was still healing from the wounds of a humiliating performance in 2007, 50 over world cup and rested most of its stars and sent a young team under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
There were no serious expectations from the sport which India had zero exposure to and then pieces fell in place and after one iconic performance after another; India beat its Archrival Pakistan in the finals. This was yet another anchor point (like the 1983 Prudential World Cup triumph), and then franchise cricket was born in India.
The IPL was launched, with 8 franchises and best of talent being auctioned from the best talent pool available from World cricket. Fans were enthralled at the possibility of fierce rivals like Harbhajan Singh- Mathew Hayden, Ishant Sharma- Ricky Ponting, Shoaib Akhtar- Sachin Tendulkar; Glen McGrath- Mahela Jayewardene had potential of becoming teammates.
The first edition in 2008 went down to the wire as Shane Warne led Rajasthan Royals won the event inliterally the last ball of the match, with Yousuf Pathan & Shane Watson coming up with match winning performances.
The second edition went to Deccan Chargers as they made some memorable comeback wins and defended a very low score in the finals.
After the first few editions, there was a cloud on the authenticity of the IPL because of some allegations on spot fixing, match fixing, revealing team information, goof ups in the sponsorship deals. But this was only a short term as IPL came back cleaner, stronger, more stringent on the restrictions applied on players, and became very competitive.
The late-night parties were shunned, the cheerleaders were groomed, and media appearances by players trimmed and cricket again came on the forefront of things & became a talking point.
The biggest beneficiary of IPL is the Indian uncapped players who got this extraordinary opportunity of playing with international players and when they eventually made debut in the highest arena, they were no strangers to facing huge crowds, quality bowling/batting lineups, pressure situations or dealing with stardom, glitz, and expectations.
The prime examples of this can be players like the Pandya Brothers, Jaspreet Bhumra, Ravindra Jadeja, Shubman Gill only to name a few.
Today IPL is the most fiercely competed cricketing event in the world. There is a lot of money involved as well. This is nothing but the talent of the golden era of cricket in the 80s who strengthened the roots of cricket in India,stillless rewarding they have been compared to achieving Kerry Packer’s dream of fair wages for this league of extraordinary sportsmen representing this elite sport.
The ICC even adjusts the cricketing calendars to ensure a smooth flow of IPL and from next year, the Pakistan players are also allowed to represent the IPL.
As rightly said in one of the ad campaigns- IPL is India’s festival and it is here to stay.