- By Chinmay Palshetkar
With the COVID-19 cases increasing in the ranges of 80,000s on a daily basis, the Indian Economy is in absolute shambles, a political turmoil across the whole country. But amidst all this, one thing everyone has anticipated for the longest time is of course the Indian Premier League 2020. ‘The IPL’ is finally back but unfortunately not in India this time. It surely does break a million hearts but that is how it has to be this year.
Why is IPL a huge success globally?
IPL has had a huge impact not only in Indian Cricket but also in World Cricket both financially as well as contributing towards recognizing local talents. As Harsha Bhogle says, “IPL is everyone’s soap opera” and yes, it truly is. It keeps you tuned in to your TV sets with a promising entertainment for those 3-4 hours. Nothing has changed the financial outlook of cricketers like the IPL has. The ‘Pre-IPL’ era as they say had only the elite Cricketers earning chunks of money as they played for their country while the others churning and slogging it out in domestic cricket to make a living. But IPL changed all of that. You see a local talent getting a million dollars bid in the IPL Auctions. Out of the box players, who even in their wildest dreams wouldn’t have thought of such numbers getting an IPL contract: a rags to riches story of so many Cricketers including the likes of Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Siraj and so many. The IPL has changed the lives of many Cricketers not only in India but also across the globe. The IPL surely is a GIFT.
It has given the players a platform to showcase their talents. It has given the domestic players a chance to come out of virtual anonymity and be in the limelight and take the center stage. Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Sunil Narine, Tabrez Shamsi and many others are a product of this phenomenon.
An IPL success story article is incomplete without its infamous and highly sustainable Business model. The league earns huge chunks of money through Brands via Sponsorship, through IPL Match Ticket sales, through million dollars Media Rights deals. With the changing landscapes of the league, there is an emergence of Indian Startups venturing in. There is Dream 11, Unacademy, CRED, BYJU’s, Mobile Premier League, boAT, Paytm and many more. IPL is well and truly the new age Business. It has broken the shackles of only Big MNCs and conglomerates partnering with a tournament like IPL.
In a country like India, where Bollywood and Cricket are perennial pillars of entertainment, IPL rightly serves both on the platter. The big Bollywood celebs like the Shah Rukh Khans and the Preity Zintas being associated with IPL teams as the owners bring so much to the table. You see a celebrity having a guest appearance on the Pre match or Mid match shows, performances of celebs during the opening and closing ceremony of the tournament. This does nothing but building and growing the brand of an already popular league.
With commercial glory, what IPL has done is it has brought a community together and has built a great camaraderie between players across nationalities. It is not just a tournament but a Learning Laboratory for Cricketers now. You see the evolution of Jasprit Bumrah under Lasith Malinga, there is Rohit Sharma who has grown under Ponting, Ajinkya Rahane evolved as a much better player by playing alongside David Warner and actually benefited from Sehwag’s advice of playing Test Cricket. This is much bigger than money, this is accelerating the development and evolution of talents. It would not be wrong to say that it is the ‘IPL’isation of Cricket.
IPL has not only changed the way Cricket is played but also how it is been watched. More women and younger children are getting drawn into the game. You see older audiences enjoying a MI vs CSK game regularly. There is a group of working professionals in their mid-40s hanging out to see an IPL match over a beer, scenarios you won’t see during a normal International Cricket match. And there lies the beauty of IPL!