CLOSE-IN: Patrons, Players and the Crowd of the IPL (IANS Column)

 - Sakshi Post

A wonderful and informative book written many moons ago comes to mind in connection with the Indian Premier League (IPL). The book titled “Patrons Players and the Crowd”, written by Richard Cashman was referred to as the “Phenomenon of Indian Cricket”. A story of Indian cricket from the Raj until 1979.

The IPL cricket has generated a similar transformation in India. The owners and patrons being the franchisees, the players from every corner of the world and crowds that cover all ages and groups of ardent supporters.

The patrons then were the Royal Maharajas and Princes aspiring to win against each other on the cricket field rather than on a battlefield. The matches were fiercely fought through plans and strategies, as victory was not about any financial returns but for ones’ prestige and pride.

This was the start of Indian cricket which has now become a massive entity. A sport that has the country reveling in it, like never before.

The teams in the past were well thought out sides which consisted of local talented players and professionals. There may not have been an auction to buy them, however, the recruitment of players was done in a much more subtle and sophisticated manner. Cricketers were cajoled and cornered with kind words and incentives.

There were also talent hunters scanning the length and breadth of India, similar to the IPL team ensemble at present, to identify, capture and recruit talented cricketers. The IPL scenario today is similar to the ones in the past.

An area of concern is the owners of many of the IPL sides. In their enthusiasm, they are now interfering wholeheartedly into cricket matters and operations on the field. An area that they are not familiar with. The Royals of yesteryears were no better. In both cases, the thought seemed to emerge is that if one paid a price for their prize catch, in this case, a cricketer, the returns should be adequately tasty at the end.

The reason that such an attitude prevails is because franchise owners and partners of an IPL team are all successful business entrepreneurs. They feel they have the worldly knowledge, foresight, intelligence and well-thought-out acumen to strategize a constructive plan to get the maximum returns. This may be possible in the environment that they are familiar with as in business, however, the game of cricket with its uncertainties is a different ball game altogether.

Every cricketer wants to score runs, take wickets and catch and field all the balls that come to them. The analysts may harp on the bookworm theory of runs scored, strike and run rates, dot balls and other such ridiculous theories. These are best analyzed after the match as records that are to be kept in the locker room to ponder over later. The batter has a bat, whereas, the bowler has a ball in hand. The contest of what happens next is an unwritten sequence and one that no one can predict.

One gathers that there are only a handful of IPL franchise owners who leave cricket to the cricketers and cricket professionals to run. Further problems also arise for players and coaches is when there are multiple owners, with each one of them having their own individual views to air. The IPL franchise set-up needs a more constructive demarcation of the scope of operation or else complete disharmony will arise. A few of the IPL sides have been riddled with it.

Furthermore, the overcrowded support staff and specialized cricket coaches in every area of the game must be leading to confusion in the minds of the players. “Too many cooks spoil the broth” is the right way to describe it.

Finally, it is the clinking sound of the cash counter that each one of them are grateful for and therefore one needs to take the IPL as cricket entertainment and not serious cricket. One only hopes that the patrons and owners of the IPL realize it as a cricket property that is a business venture with escalating valuation as returns, rather than one that targets its returns from the cricket field. As they say "winning and losing is a part and parcel of the game and it is the participation that counts."

One does feel sorry for Delhi, Bangalore, Lucknow and the Punjab franchise owners who have still to win an IPL title. Each one of them have world-class players and a side that can beat the best. However, the uncertainties of the game of cricket and the helping hand of god have not blessed them as yet. The two most successful sides of the IPL in the past, Mumbai Indians and Chennai Superkings, too have not qualified to the knock-out stage. This truly showcases the unpredictability of the T20 format with the added spice of an Impact player.

Kolkata Knight Riders have deservedly reached the final. A side, one gathers, where the owners do not indulge in cricket matters. KKR is one side being spearheaded by 2 cricketing brains of Indian cricket from the sidelines, Chandrakant Pandit and Gautam Gambhir. A success story if KKR do happen to lift the IPL’24.

A battle Royale tomorrow between Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad should decide on who meets KKR in the final.

Hyderabad in their last encounter in the IPL’24 won by a solitary run. The match in Chennai should be a nail-biting affair.

Win or lose the franchise owners should be happy with the way their teams have performed.

Sunday the 26th of May 2024, IPL final will be the thrilling platform where the Patrons, Players and the Crowd will be enthralled. Only the hand of god will decide the winner.

(Yajurvindra Singh is a former India cricketer. The views expressed are personal.)

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by the Sakshi Post team and is auto-generated from syndicated feed.

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