IPL, EPL: Leagues Apart

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March 31st, 2010 J Jagannath

“To put things in perspective, the amount of money spent on Kochi and Pune’s IPL teams is same as that spent on Manchester City last year,” said Indian Express (don’t judge me, it’s my job). Until then my when-it-comes-to-math-I-turn-dyslexic mind didn’t fathom the gravity of the million billion rupees splurged by the latest owners of two new franchisees of Indian Premier League (if you are one among the 29 people who don’t know what it is, I am not explaining and, trust me, I envy you). Does this mean that IPL is IPL and EPL (English Premier League) is EPL and the twain do meet? Are you (certain Mr Modi) kiddin’ me?

I don’t mind the money part but I do have problem with this never-ending run making marathon being touted as India’s answer to EPL (the name itself is a derivative). I never saw Roman Abramovic talking about finer details of football on the cathode tube while in IPL the owners masquerade as coaches at the dugouts. Those marble dolls with alabaster cheeks can be seen talking about “team strategies” as if they are giving a power point presentation on selecting curtains for kitchen. The moment a wicket falls or the ball soars over the boundary, camera shifts to the pretty owners or, in the case of reclusive ones, to the anodyne gyrating of cheerleaders. You have to give it to Lalit Modi, the IPL chairman, though, that he sold everything that is worth selling. If the 1985 World Series was dubbed as the Packer’s Circus, the IPL is truly Modi’s harem.

Modi is, however, justified for devising every which way to make money but the moral high stand that he takes gets onto my nerves. He says that IPL is a platform for young cricketers to rub shoulders with the players they admire. That’s hogwash. The condescension on the part of the senior players can never be more apparent. Here’s a rookie bowler, who’ll get a ball signed by the “man himself” (Sachin Tendulkar), for bowling his heart out. I don’t remember a younger Rooney genuflecting before Giggs so that he would get an inflated football as souvenir. Thus, seamless integration is still a genuine problem.

Has playing well in IPL changed the fortune of any local player apart from Ravindra Jadeja, who ironically is ‘banned’? Will we throng the stadiums to watch Ranji matches where the IPL performers will be playing? The answers for both queries is no with a capital N. In fact, Brendon Mc Cullum even said recently that one-day international is well on the dinosaur way looking at the amount of 20-20 being played these days. If you know your cricket, Mc Cullum is not puritanical by any standards.

A couple of days ago Times of India (like I said, it’s my job) carried an anchor story on front page that on basis of weekly wages IPL players are next only to their NBA counterparts. Good for the players but then that’s it. The IPL is sending a wrong signal out there when it bears the name of a country where, according to Wall Street Journal newspaper, only 1 per cent of the 1.2 billion population earns above Rs 85,000 per month (Arjun Sengupta report is so 2007). With this NBA comparison are we to forget for a fleeting while (six weeks precisely) that we continue to be a third world country and that we are far ahead of England (EPL) and Spain (La Liga)? In a recent Spectator article, these were Lee Langley’s words, “The privileged (in India) inhabit an environment of fitness gyms, personal trainers, mobile phones, chauffeur-driven limos, lipo-suction and designer labels, blind to the filth and decay outside their radar, where millions live as they have always lived, clinging to survival by their fingernails.” Superbowl of India – take a walk!!

IPL will face its major litmus test next year when two new teams will come and the pool of players remains stagnant. Therefore, here comes Brian Lara, Lance Klusener and all those geriatrics, who couldn’t even find a commentary job. If IPL was a movie, it would have been put by a critic as a bastard child of ‘Wild Hogs’ and ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’. With these teething problems, IPL is nowhere up there as yet. So, for now, leave those inane comparisons to a future date and revel in the bowlers’ leather-chasing masochism.

P.S: Don’t stop supporting Deccan Chargers, like my room-mate, just because it ‘represents’ Hyderabad (Telangana) and you belong to coastal Andhra.

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5 Responses to “IPL, EPL: Leagues Apart”

  1. Jagannath Says:

    @swapna: There should be a fifth option, “all the above”.

    @Nirvana: Thank you for echoing my sentiments. IPL is way more mindless than the saas-bahu soap operas.

    @Sandeep: I mentioned in my article that I am being borderline fastidious. However, it is to be noted that any sporting event is a marketing gimmick. i always wonder why the players jump like monkeys when they hit a goal. I never saw Obama jumping like Tom Cruise on a couch after getting the Nobel Peace Prize. So, what am getting to is that while NBA, NFL, EPL, ad nauseaum are marketing exercises, IPL goes a notch higher. Hitting the bowler over the top virtually every ball is not my idea of cricket. You might as well put bowling machines at the other side. Kallis and Dravid are being derided for playing ’sheet anchor roles’. If this is cricket then there’s something seriously wrong with our perception of ‘entertainment’.

    @Jagat: Please see my above response. For some entertainment can be hero hitting ten goons at one go. Not for me. And I don’t think only ’socialists’ want pure entertainment.

  2. jagat Says:

    Jagannath, you have raised a very good point that IPL is not EPL. It may not come to that level in near future. Also Modi’s words, to say the least, are pompous. But I have question for you: Does everything have to come to a comparison between poor India and rich India? Yes, it is always a good topic to write on and you will always have socialist supporters too. But just leave alone IPL; it is just entertainment if you can, just enjoy it and also let others enjoy.

  3. Sandeep Muley Says:

    Jagannath, I don’t think it makes sense to criticize something which has been embraced by everyone, from BCCI to industrialists to Bollywood to players and most importantly the Indian public (100% of them and not only 1% of the rich people). Why do you have to compare IPL and EPL? What’s wrong in having team owners in the dug out zone? Why are you worried if a billionaire wants to buy the Kochi team for $225 million? What’s wrong, if 20:20 is taking over the game of Cricket by eclipsing One Dayers? Why do you mind if a junior player loves to get a ball signed by Sachin?

    If I were to criticize a league like you did to IPL, I can come up with 1000 reasons against EPLs, NBAs and NFLs of the World. But we have to remember if something is successful, there is something good in it that out weighs every drawback. So please shut down this cynical attitude.

  4. Nirvana Says:

    Excellent article. The hype and over-hype of IPL is turning into a big bubble which when it bursts will bring down the over-enthu team owners, the over-worked players and the over-confident Modi. Just because the IPL may become financially as big as EPL, the passion for the sport is missing sorely in IPL.

  5. Swapna Says:

    Jagannath, You’ve hit the bull’s eye!

    Quiz question: Give a reason why one would spend about 300 million USD for Kochi IPL team?

    If you have the answer, please let me know asap.

    The quizmaster gave it to me as a multiple-choice question:
    (1) To have a death-wish.
    (2) To create a sub-prime bubble.
    (3) To cause an inflow of tourists and outflow of Kochi-ites.
    (4) To get an idea for Lagaan Part Deux.

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