Sunday, 24 May 2009

IPL 2009: What we know now

What has the second edition of the IPL told us? 

Firstly, most significantly, that it's transferrable. Say what you like about Lalit Modi, to move the tournament across continents at a couple of weeks' notice took decisiveness and the balls of a lion, the defining characteristics of entrepreneurs and con-men through history. 

Modi is the former, of course, a man whose psyche is perfectly attuned to his product. The IPL is now part of the landscape of the game. Two years ago, we'd never heard of it. The fact that a deus ex machina saw it move to South Africa will prove a strange case of luck coming from tragedy. Modi will have grasped its meaning: his is a format that can be applied across the world.

Second, and also significant, the capacity of the franchises to bond as genuine teams - at least internally - means that a dynamic is emerging. The fact that anyone can win is key. It's an American model rather than a European one, where, in football for example, the top teams use their money to ringfence success.

Thirdly, Modi has done a service to the game in India by offering a stage to its young players. That took vision.  Who will beat the Indian T20 side in five or ten years time?

Fourthly, the calendar is shaping to Modi's will. England's first two Tests simply surrendered in apathy and rain. It will make Test cricket stronger rather than weaker; it'll be less available, more treasured.

The other lesson concerns the format itself. It is being learned at an accelerated rate. If the 50-over game took forty years to exhaust its permutations, to be fully grasped by the players, T20 might be done in half that time. Then it will just be a question of strength, rather than innovation. There is some flexibility, though. A forty over game made up of two T20 innings each would offer a new set of variables - and more ad breaks.

'Don't bring me good generals, bring me lucky ones' runs the maxim, and Modi is lucky, too. Even his ludicrous commerciality has its upside. The world now knows what it means to be DLF-ed: it's funny rather than sinister.

Best of all though, the game retained its poetry. There was some in the semi-final on Saturday, when Rahul Dravid batted with Manish Pandey. Pandey sparked like a firework and then Ruler responded, taking one ball early off his legs and whipping it through midwicket like a tracer. They punched gloves and smiled. In twenty years, everyone will play like Manish Pandey. We were there when Dravid and Tendulkar and Warne and Gilchrist and Kumble played too, and you know what, it was really something.



11 comments:

Q said...

So it was all abt Modi?

achettup said...

Another excellent post. I wonder what they said when ODIs first invaded the Test space. I also wonder when they will decide that the ODI World Cup no longer merits a place in the calendar.

The Old Batsman said...

Q - it's all about Lalit, you know that!

No, just thought it was worth having a crack at the off-pitch stuff. I hadn't thought about the ODI world cup but very true - it seems like a dinosaur compared to this. It'll need to be radically overhauled if it's going to compete.

Q said...

I agree with u guys, the ODI WC is a dinosaur and its format definitely needs revisiting..

Coincidentally a WC has not been played since the IPL got underway.. the 20-20 one will be the 1st WC after an IPL season, and I have a feeling that it may pale in comparison.

I dont think the intensity or excitement of the 20-20 will be low, but i think there's a case for having the 20-20 WC on a similar format as the IPL.

It doesnt make sense that the IPL is 5 weeks long and has 50 odd matches, while the WC is only 2 weeks long and has 20 odd games..

The ODI WC, well thats a diff story altogether.. 2011 seems like a failure even before it started..

Russ said...

Good post OB. I'd add a few things to those points:

- There is no reason why the current league format couldn't be expanded globally. That is, expanding the IPL to four seasons: Africa/Australasia in January, the sub-continent in April, Europe/North America in August, and India again for finals in October. Indian tv rights will cover the cost of basing the game in almost any city, so the development potential is enormous.

- The 2011 ODI World Cup could be the last. If it wasn't run at all would anyone care? That test cricket fans prefer it to T20 because it is closer to "real cricket" isn't really relevant. How many people who used to prefer ODI cricket above test cricket, still rate it above T20?

- The biggest problem I have with T20 are the hangovers from the 50 over game. Tactical innovation increases in proportion to the things a captain can change. Fielding restrictions/power plays were introduced because 50 over cricket is dull, but they could be greatly simplified for T20 without any great loss. Bowling restrictions are the biggest barrier to innovation though. Team's should have to think about balance, not get forced into picking five bowlers. If Kumble had bowled 10 straight in the final, would that have been better or worse viewing? If one team lines up with 9 batsmen, and one 7, who do you put your money on?

Q said...

You make interesting points Russ.

Though my hunger for test cricket remains as high as always, my appetite for ODIs has reduced significantly.. that I feel has something to do with 20-20 cricket.

The Old Batsman said...

Russ, that's a great point actually. The bowling restrictions have become so accepted it never occurs to anyone [me included!] how the dynamic of the game could change if they were shifted. As far as 50 overs goes, I guess you have to ask, what can it offer that T20 can't, apart from more ad breaks? Very interesting question...

The Chocolatecream Soldier said...

I found all the sponsor messages and commentary disgusting. One look at how Europe and America position their leagues will show how ridiculously cheap Modi is in promoting himself and the IPL. The trophy is a disgrace, the sponsor logos on the team kits look hideous, the commentary is even below the intellect of infants. Thankfully the cricket has been good and as long as that remains and the best players compete the IPL will thrive.

Jake said...

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scorpicity said...

To start with, the ICC can burn down that meaningless Champions trophy and replace it with a 20-20 League world cup, featuring the best domestic first class teams in the world competing with each other.

Nice post and indeed we were DLf'ed :)

Fark said...

Wonderful post!

Dravid played a terribly uncharacteristic shot (considering the situation) to get out in the finals, but you just cannot take away his short-arm pulls, on-drives, flicks....a thing of beauty is a joy forever.