Being passionate about a sport, does not make you blind to what challenges it. But it also reinforces the beliefs that you have in the game. Given all that's been happening post the Indian Premier League Season 6, this is an attempt to showcase the un'fix'ed side. The essence of what makes it such an exciting and entertaining (purely on cricketing terms) League.
The format Twenty20 cricket, is in itself a strange animal. The shallowness and triviality used to gnaw at one's very being. How could the game one loves be reduced to this diluted form. Fifty over cricket was the shortest that the game could be reduced to, and suddenly this new beast surfaces. But cricket like most other things in life is a reflection of society. And to say that most people want instant results and short term connections and shallow investments would not be entirely wrong.
Season 6 exhibited some close finishes, some low scoring nail biters, some unbelievable catches and fielding, innovative captaining and overall the ‘cricket' shone through. For the cricket lover, not only entertaining but also a chance to further believe that this format did have its moments. Sadly the cynics and the so-called realists will say, that the matches were fixed, there's spot fixing and more. Yes, one cannot turn a blind eye to what happened in one or two games (or more) but the fact remains that barring a few greedy, low thinking individuals the ‘plentiful plate' of others played the games in the true spirit of cricket. And nothing anyone says can take away the credit from those who believe in the game and in those who play it in the way it's meant to be played.
Call it idealism or blind faith in the sport, but cricket is and always will be larger than the challenges it faces. Human beings and their greed for money is an ongoing saga that only those who are bitten by the fangs of greed can fathom. Obviously it's for all to see that the Indian Premier League is one of the world's most ‘money- rich' leagues. But making sense of why those players who succumb to the lure of money and more, will always be a herculean task. This brings one to the next element of this cash heavy league - Women.
In 2008 when the Indian Premier League began, it was ‘cricketainment' in Amercian dimensions. A lot of what works in American sport was injected into the league. Cheerleaders in skimpy attire being one of the most telling imports. Add to this orgasmic, testosterone serving after parties and what you get is a heady cocktail for almost all the cricketers, the young Indian hopefuls, the overseas flavours or the seasoned Indian lot. It was all about the frills and fluff and not so much about the cricketeven though in its most diluted format.
Over the years with circumstances changing specially in the management area, the fluff and silliness seemed to take a backseat and the cricket was clearly the main focus. In the Indian Premier league's sixth edition the cricket seemed to be the strongest element. For the cricket lover, this was more than what one wanted. But the sleaze, the sex and the after parties exist. Not in the magnitude that they used to, but they do form a part of the IPL tapestry. Women are imported to dance and wear ‘exciting' attire to lure the Indian man to ‘dance' in celebration. Any study or half intelligent person would tell you that in India you don't need to titillate cricket to attract audiences.
Without these ‘cheer girls' the stadiums would still be packed and the music would suffice to celebrate boundary hits and wickets falling. This edition of the IPL boasted of next to capacity and full capacity stadiums, and you have to believe it was not thanks to the ‘cheerleaders'.
Skimpily clad television hostesses were mere eye candy for the cricketers on the field and also a deterrent to getting access to some of the teams more orthodox elements. For some teams had individuals who refused to talk to ‘such' women as it went against their ‘belief' system. If only the powers that be could dig a little deeper the need for such superficiality would be done away with and cricket would be allowed to breathe even easier.
At the end of the day most men will be men. Cricketers, spectators and whoever else are involved in the ‘circus'. And ‘those' women will always be a huge lure and men will hungrily and happily go where most men have gone before. This is a fact and nothing changes. But one makes a case for avoiding such sexual elements in the league. Cricketers and officials and whoever else will always have a certain kind of female following. The sport is not worshipped as much as those who play the sport are. Again there are exceptions, but the rule in India, especially in this format is to adore the cricketer and love cricket.
The best analogy for the Indian Premier League would be that of a ‘circus'. An array of characters performing their acts in large or small ways. All adding to the overall extravaganza in their unique fashion. The sublime and the ridiculous exist happily within the same space as do the believers and the non-believers. For seven weeks this circus thrills and entertains those who allow it to. An experience that touches lives of a million people in more ways than one.
This is the ‘unfixed' side of the IPL, where there are fun and games and if you will accept some brilliant cricket played. It is the latter that matters most, for those discerning enough and genuinely in love with the game.
The Indian Premier League may have a lot that's not right with it, but it also does not have much that's wrong with it either. It's about keeping what ticks and eliminating what does not.
So the circus will continue, and in less than a year, for a few weeks again, the nation will embrace the extravaganza called the Indian Premier League. Celebrating cricket for all the ‘right' reasons.
One can only hope.