There was something truly comical about Lalit Modi, of all people, playing the whistle-blower after the Indian Premier League, run unbelievably profitably by the Board of Control for Cricket in India, recently endowed itself with two more franchises, Lucknow and Ahmedabad, for the sort of cash that was beyond the wildest dreams induced by avarice.
Modi, of course, knows much, much more about the IPL ~ he had been its battering ram before the BCCI gave him the bum’s rush for alleged corruption ~ than he perhaps can afford to let on but his well-timed disclosure underscored, for some people at least, how the tournament, for all the carefully orchestrated effervescence around it, was simply unable to stop stink bombs going off periodically.
Whether or not there is a lot that is internally wrong with it, it is easy for anyone to detect careless, even cynical impunity when Modi says that the Ahmedabad franchise is going to be owned by a company which is also into betting and wonders aloud about undone homework and the anti-corruption wing’s slothful ways.
The role reversal that Modi’s letting the cat out of the bag suggests – time was when he was the one held responsible for things deemed less than respectable – also shows, perhaps, that the IPL is a space where you cannot really tell the pot from the kettle in its oft-alleged dark interior.
You can only laugh as the show is seemingly unstoppable, blessed and encouraged by anyone who is anyone in this land, though its occasional hiccups hint umistakably at infirmities that illustrate much more than social awkwardness.
That punctures the social euphoria sought 24×7 to be created around the glamorous spectacle, which is another reason why the IPL is unlikely ever to be able to compel serious attention when its financial aspect is not the focal point of a study or a discussion.
And money ~ the mindnumbing quantity of it ~ was the celebratory inspiration before Modi, still smarting from blows his once-upon-a-time pals in the cricket board had dealt him years ago, made his sensational statement, its simplicity adding to its force. The His-Master’sVoice media pointed at the BCCI’s bulging pockets and seemed to be gloating that all the IPL franchises were now making a profit.
As if cricket was ever about that. If it is today’s reality in India, the attitude dates, globally, from Juan Antonio Samaranch’s selling of the Olympics to television, which implied a quantum jump. The European owners of the Ahmedabad franchise also lend a touch to the IPL that is suitably exotic for now but the door having been opened to worldwide cricket entrepreneurship in India, well might others be ringing the calling bell from now on.
The Glazers might come back and grab a piece of the pie the next time. If West Asia controls much of European domestic football today, it could soon be cracking its whip in India.
The ridiculous ease with which a Saudi Arabian entity, said to be backed by the kingdom’s royal family, has captured Newcastle United in the English Premier League, making them supposedly the world’s richest football club, may recur when a go is to be had in the IPL.