One definition of a classic is “that which has stood the test of time”. In this era of the instantaneous, a decade would appear long enough to earn that accolade. And it is not just a question of time: the massive response to “Season Ten” of the Indian Premier League and the publicity it generates, along with the continuously ringing cash registers, combine to cock a snook at the purists.
The most popular T20 cricket fiesta on the planet has silenced its legion of detractors. For all their doomsday prophesies, the tournament has come to stay, overcoming myriad hurdles on its way to a success never imagined at its launch. The league has now grown into an entity much more than the sum of its parts, even making a mockery of the climate-change naysayers by providing a refreshing cool as the heat of the Indian summer takes a toll on most other kinds of physical activity: politics apart, our netas are truly folk for all seasons.
For the next six weeks or so a specially created variety of cricket-lover will have a buffet of delight, high quality sport laced with the entertainment and hoopla that modern commerce triggers. Make no mistake about it, the tamasha would have lost its appeal had the cricket not been effervescent. For while T20 may not have been an Indian “invention”, the IPL established itself as a brand well before the terms “start-up” or “make in India” acquired their current connotation. And if in the process the players benefited, and some teams “crashed”, it all boils down to market forces being at work ~ only the snotty-nosed still dare to look down disdainfully at balance-sheets.
Only those who refuse to “see” will not be alive to the overall improvements in fielding, running between the stumps, revised tactics by bowlers, and the batsmen’s ability to register a “maximum” almost at will.
The game has been revolutionised, it has seen acknowledged superstars rubbing shoulders with aspiring youngsters, but above all cricket has been transformed into a game for the masses, Indian masses at least. No wonder that attempts at similar leagues have been floated to try and make hockey, football, badminton, etc., reap the same kind of harvest. Sure there have been negatives too ~ what human activity does not have its seamy side? Even the most vicious critics have slowly toned down their assault. For nothing matches the roar of approval from a stadium packed to the proverbial rafters. Neither cricket nor T20 were around when the term vox populi vox dei was coined. At some stage people did talk about “Gods or flannelled fools” ~ the IPL has scripted its own chapter in cricket history.