It"s time again for the annual Twenty 20 cricket event! No, it"s not just another T20 tournament, it"s the much hyped, much awaited carnival of cricket that is now in it"s second year. Yes, ofcourse, undoubtedly it is the Indian Premier League and it"s here all set to take off! Unfortunately, a large element that was responsible for it"s success and elevation to a special area in the Indian Cricket Fans" mind will be missing from this edition! Yes, the authentic Indian Cricket fans themselves. Sometimes life"s like that. You just accept what is dealt out and make the most of it. So, for the millions of Indian Cricket fans, television will be the playground for their cricketing passions!
When you look at the larger picture, you will agree that this is all pretty sad. Given that in the first edition of the Indian Premier League, the fans contributed to much of the drama that the matches were made of. The teams had their home" grounds and icon players, and in the cities the frenzy was palpable. There were the Mumbaikars and the Bengalis and the Tamilians rooting for their teams, which were ironically not made up with their statesmen. And that perhaps was the most endearing feature of the extravaganza.
Having worked on the television coverage of the spectacular show, one could observe and imbibe from close quarters the auras that were emitted at the hubs of IPL activity, the stadia. Be it at the historic Eden Gardens, or the new fangled state of the art – DY Patil Stadium at Navi Mumbai, the people were there to revel in the games shortest format.
Overnight, players that were not heard of too much prior to the IPL, were catapulted into a galaxy, that they could have only dreamt of before this stage. A Manpreet Gony or a Swapnil Asnodkar or even a Dhawal Kulakrni soon became cricketers to be reckoned with. Their names were on the lips of millions and suddenly everything they did or did not do was magic.
The cities of the various franchises came alive as never before in support of their teams. In the capital – the Delhi Daredevils billboards were smiling down on you, giving the common people a sense of being one with their local heroes Viru Bhai and Gauti !! Glenn McGrath was the adopted Delhizen and suddenly it did not matter if you were Tamilian, what mattered was the fact that you were a Delhi Daredevil!
Kolkata is the confirmed Cricket maddest city in India and their cricketing hero – Sourav Ganguly is not a man. No! he is a God, that people worship to silliness. Seeing their God in the avatar of a knight rider ( gladiatoresque) made the cricket crazy, Sourav insane Kolkatan feel like a king or another knight part of the roundtable of support !!
All this and more will be missing at this edition of the IPL. For instance, Kolkata will be heartbroken, as their Maharaja Sourav will not be the undisputed captain of the Knight Riders, in fact he may not be captain at all.
For the diehard cricket fan, this format will always be the lightest version and given all the trappings, one hesitates to take it seriously. But there are some truly brilliant, take – your – breath- away, cricketing shots that make you sit and watch with an element of awe, peppered with nonchalance.
Some say that the other shortened version the 50-50 one day cricket version is on death row, but many would disagree. Sure T20 is the need of the hour ( or three hours) , given the transient lifestyles that one leads these days, but honestly for cricket, the one day version is as truncated as it can get. There are opinions and there are opinions, the old school and the new school. Debates will go on forever, but the Indian Premier League is here and its taking off now! And the now is what matters most, right?
It"s the Indian Premier League and this time it has an Afrikaan flavor! C"est la vie!!