Cheergirls, Bollywood, Hot Shot sponsors, top corporates, players from across the world, the T20 game and much more glitz and glamour. This is what the IPL (Indian Premier League) is all about. The IPL has revolutionized the way cricket has been played, marketed, seen and popularized in this country and across the world. It has given the city – based loyalty dimension an altogether new meaning with catchy team names, big big sponsors and above all brand ambassadors that have the special connect to the respective cities. The IPL, now into its third season has just got bigger with announcement of two new teams – Ahmedabad and Pune for the 4th season, new sponsors like the option of watching matches live on YouTube and also in Big Cinemas along with many other big ticket deals.
In some ways, the IPL does resemble the Kerry Packer’s breakway World Series Cricket in 1977 which had players from different countries playing in it but they were subsequently banned by their respective boards. But in the case of IPL, such a thing couldn’t have happened at considering the financial muscle of BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India). Though they came up with this concept after the ICL (Indian Cricket League – which was a rebel league started by Zee), they were able to get the top international players to sign on because of its official nature and bigger prize money.
The first three IPL seasons consists of 8 teams – Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Daredevils, Rajasthan Royals, Deccan Chargers, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab. The teams are owned by as diverse people as Sharukh Khan, Preity Zinta, Shilpa Shetty and the Ambanis, the Deccan Chronicle Group, Vijay Mallya and GMR Group. Each team has at least a minimum of about 8 – 10 sponsors (obviously they would require sooooooo many sponsors to recover their costs which they have spent over a particular period). The most interesting aspect in this the bidding and valuation of the players. For the first time in the history of cricket, an auction was done for the owners to chose the players they would like to have in their teams. So you could hear Gilchrist say “It feels really odd to be AUCTIONED!”. Players such as Dhoni, Symonds, Pietersen, Pollard have been valued in millions.
Many Indian and foreign players are heard of only in the IPL. But this can be considered as a good thing and a bad thing. The good part is that it has helped them rub shoulders with the stars of international cricket as without this opportunity they may have still been in the wilderness. But the bad part is that their careers may be restricted to T20s completely which should not be the be all and end all of any cricketer. There is also the concept of icon players such as Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Laxman and Dravid who have a fixed higher earning. They don’t take part in the auction.
The presence of scantily clad cheergirls was a new concept for our country when the IPL began. So it was sure to ruffle a few feathers among the Shiv Senas and Ram Senas of our country with these so called moral police calling for their removal or wearing more clothes. But as usual as they say “We are a HUNGRY country”, as the tournament went along, the leaders preferred to keep mum than risk the people’s wrath.
The greatest thing or the worst thing which the IPL has accomplished as one may call it is the mix of commerce with cricket. The costs involved in marketing, promotions, players, brand ambassadors, stadiums, tickets, merchandises and what not are magnanimous. That’s why everyone agrees that even though KKR may have played pathetically till now, they have the highest valuation and brand equity and have are also the first team to reach break even. Now that’s what you call a business mind!
All in all IPL does provide glitz, glamour, fun, entertainment, a chance to watch the top cricketers at one stage and good cricket in ample doses. Who cares a damn about the purists when ENTERTAINMENT is the buzz word? Do you?