So Kolkata Knight Riders won in a dramatic climax to a series of events, making Shah Rukh Khan look like the man of the moment. Never mind Bisla or whatever his name was; maybe the Kolkata fans will remember. Chennai Super Kings did not blow their whistles right when it mattered most. Chennai fans will remember that. At least until the next edition of India’s biggest sports property.
I feel a strong urge to stop myself from writing on the Indian Premier League - the many controversies surrounding it and a few more that are possibly waiting to be unveiled included. My hesitance is not so much because of the controversies that seem to haunt the IPL, as it is because of the number of people writing on the property and its myriad problems. If it’s not such a big deal, why is there so much buzz around IPL? Surely, not all of it is manufactured by the spin doctors?
There is no dearth of critics for anything under the sun in argumentative India. It possibly comes from our democratic upbringing. And there is little history of gratitude to the subjects of our criticism, for giving us the opportunity to engage in our favourite pastime. Cricket fans are no different. If anything, they are more critical, because they are more passionate.
Some would have criticised the decision after Chetan Sharma was asked to bowl the last over in a match that made many of us aware of the existence of an Emirate in the UAE called Sharjah. It doesn’t even have to get that significant. We love to attack Sachin Tendulkar’s defence when the ball gets through it. We relish ripping apart Sehwag’s choice of attacking stroke when he holes out. Dhoni’s cool head is the subject of hot discussion when his choice of change bowler doesn’t work the magic it is supposed to.
With the IPL, it only gets more interesting. We have more options, and ones far more glamorous than Chetan Sharma. We can now play big brother to Shah Rukh Khan and disapprove of his choice of expletives, believing that we know what transpired through the pictures and reports in the media. We can join television show hosts and social commentators on whether he is ‘losing it’. Of course, that was largely until he - sorry, his team - won the current edition of IPL.
We gain inordinate pleasure in discussing an alleged molestation, and whether or not the team owner standing up in defence of his player for the alleged crime should have done so more tactfully. Of course, that is until the complaint is withdrawn, and a handshake between the warring parties is pictured in the next day’s newspaper. The team owner tweets again. That, again, gets reported. And it is discussed, yet again. The cycle is endless.
Every critic of the Indian Premier League knows that even if he or she doesn’t have the following, IPL does. And every media owner and editor knows that a scoop on IPL or slip of a glam team owner, or player, will sell. The news media has been the biggest gainer in this edition of IPL.
Consider a film critic whose following depends on his or her ability to mercilessly mutilate the creators of something that they deem to be below par. They need a film to review, to demonstrate their ability to criticise. Without the film, the reviewer is obsolete. For millions of Indians, IPL 5 provided an endless supply of conversation starters. And most of them, at least for cricket fans, did involve cricket.
Let’s spare a moment for a property that kept us occupied this summer like nothing ever has.
Five years is enough to ascertain that the IPL is no aberration. Summer is now cricket season. Thank you, IPL.