Friday, May 18, 2012

the HULK in IPL

Dr. Bruce Banner’s sole objective is to keep the days without incidents. By “incident” means, his alter ego tears out and cause mayhem. Though the audience craves for the single look of HULK, Dr. Banner’s purpose doesn’t change. IPL pretty much reminds HULK. The fans appetite may have been served by a Shah Rukh Khan’s scuffle with MCA Security Guards or Luke Pomersbach assault on a woman and her fiancé or the sting operation that blew the whistle on player attempting to negotiate deals or the rave party where few players detained on charges of consuming banned substances etc., However, the management of IPL simply doesn’t have a choice but to keep these incidents low to none. Unless BCCI intends to sell IPL for audience cravings.

Every follower of IPL has brains to understand that some players are overpaid than the contractual obligation. Everyone also recognize that it is the system at fault and not the player or the franchise. A player of Gayle is worth only half million dollars is the biggest joke. A seasoned domestic pro like Ambati Rayudu can command only 30 Lakh Rupees is a statement for laughter therapy. And there is no way Ambati Rayudu is going to play for India (we all know the reasons) that will improve his stakes. Then there is a sting operation that only reveals what we already know to happen somewhere behind doors. In my books, it does not put the players or franchise ill for negotiating deals (I don’t intend match/spot fixing here, when I use the word deal). At the end of the day, no player here in IPL is playing for pride (country) or a franchise working hard day and night for the development of cricket in India. Everyone involved including the board does this for money. Unearthing new talents, improving the economy, providing entertainment values, creating job opportunities are only byproducts. It is a pure business model and BCCI should allow the business end of it to flourish. Probably the whistle blower is a perfect opportunity to revisit the framework.

BCCI dictating the price tag of a first class cricketer doesn’t sound logical in the prevailing scenario considering the Supply Vs Demand issue. BCCI may argue that they are keeping the hunger alive for these cricketers to represent the nation. At the end of the day, we already witness half the West Indian side playing here in IPL rather their country, the Sri Lankan players altered their England Tour Itinerary few years ago to play IPL and some International Cricketers retired early for a pie here. A conflict of interest exhibited by some sect of players in the same league does not send right signal to the first class cricketers that BCCI is trying to protect. Also no price tag policy for foreign imports with same first class background adds up the disparity.

On the contrary, renowned stars like Brian Lara, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly only bite dust in the auctions despite the International background. That proves representing the country alone is not an incentive for the player to command money in IPL. Even the potential India cricketers as Chetashwar Pujara, Wriddhiman Saha, Abinav Mukund are found to be bench warmers for their franchises some years now. That pretty much explains, the format requires a different skill and the tournament operates under a different business model. These are perfect pointers to lift the cap on first class cricketers which will potentially curb the occurrence of murky dealings in the future. In Dr. Banner’s term, an opportunity to keep the incidents low.

If/when the cap is lifted for first class players; some sect might argue the same to be a huge deterrent for the aspiration to become India cricketer. At the end of the day even the fans fail to turn up (England & West Indies series) to support their national team, but throng the stadiums to shore up their IPL franchises. So, what is the big deal in serving the nation?

There will be concerns for this cap lift as the gap will start wider between the strong and weak clubs. But, it is the cost to pay to keep the system clean.

The day the weaker franchise gets the right to choose the first draft pick and sell the player in the subsequent trading window handsomely and transparently, can only bring sanity to the business model.

Someday, fans like me will learn to shift our loyalties from the national side to our franchises. Until then, there is always the failure of Super Kings/Knight Riders to soothe our souls. (You know why). Even this attitude will fade out in the following generations.

Cricket Lover

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