It's back to big bucks, gorgeous cheer leaders, film stars gracing the event, younger cricket players getting to meet their screen icons, action heroes doing their bit to hog the limelight, and not the least—boundaries and sixes being hit at will.
I thought I was done with my cricketing viewing experience when India exited out of the World Cup 2007 in the preliminary round. But with no other sport really flourishing as big as cricket in India, everyone is forced to follow cricket and I am no exception. The interest rekindled in me when India won a closely fought Test series against Australia.
The IPL thoughts surfaced when India won the first inaugural T20 championships which were held in South Africa in September 2007, when they defeated their arch rivals in the finals. IPL was first launched as a counter measure when ICL was the first league to bring this sort of county championships into cricket.
IPL was the brainchild of Lalit Modi and he was credited for bringing and executing a novel concept with a huge backing from the BCCI.
Few teams with names ending with Challengers, Royals, Riders, Tigers, Lions (Sparrows and Pigeons were excluded so far) etc. were formed and are now funded by the corporate honchos and the big wigs of the film industry. A festival of colours, explosives and sixes is awaiting the cricket fans (real fans?) come the April 2009.
IPL 2008 was a huge hit and they are trying to at least double the success of it and cash in on it. Pietersen and Flintoff were traded for US $1.55 million which was a tad more than the uber cool MS Dhoni was traded for and nobody has any idea where the money is heading from.
Amidst this chaos there are few fans who are left wondering about this mayhem and man handling on cricket. They too like sixes being hit but not with ease and reduced boundary ropes. There were bountiful number of fours and sixes which were left unapplauded. Anything in excess vexes.
One day cricket was once a fans' delight is taking a backseat. And I for one will not be surprised if the purest form of cricket, Test cricket, becomes a part of the history. When players were able to stand the Test of cricket, I wonder whether Test cricket would be able to stand the test of time with such advancements and money flow in the game.
A batsmen who can hit the best of straight drives ever seen cannot find a place in the wham-bham, thank you mam cricket. A square cut hit in IPL will not be compared to David Boon's style. A half pull shot executed on one leg by a left hander is not admired.
The lazy elegance at which players hit their off drives and square leg strokes will be ridiculed because they lack the brute force. Commentators will be pressed to talk on how innovative a batsmen is for his switch shots rather than discussing the legality of it.
Being a cricket fan, who applauds a single over defended by Courtney Walsh to save the Test match for his team with more passion than six sixes being hit in an over, I begin to wonder where cricket and in particular Test cricket is heading to.
With torn heart, I for one do not support IPL just to keep the cricket alive—despite the fact that cricket is getting globalized.
And yes, I am a traditionalist.