By Vijay Jeedigunta - DreamCricket Columnist
The Royals proved that willow hitting leather, not the leather wallet, is what great cricket is made of. In support of that argument, the three franchises that cost over $ 100 million did not make it to the final 4.
Shane Warne's Rajasthan Royals were the worthy winners of the inaugural IPL after registering a nerve-wracking last ball win against MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings before a packed house at Dr DY Patil Stadium. The final left millions of cricket fans all across the world with shorter nails on their fingers.
It's a fairy-tale ending to one of the World's biggest success stories in sports. BCCI has said that it made a profit of Rs.350 Crores with just this one event compared to the Rs. 235 Crores profit it made for an entire year of 2007.
Rajasthan Royals was IPL's least expensive team but they had an abundance of team spirit and must-win attitude. These qualities were in display throughout the tournament - to the very last ball! Sohail Tanvir showed nerves of steel and scored the winning run of the last ball - a fitting tribute to his coach and captain Shane Warne who was standing 22 yards away at the non-strikers' end.
Shane Warne's investment of trust and confidence in his team paid rich dividends. When asked what made the Rajasthan Royals click in the tournament, Warne said "We created an environment where players felt trusted, wanted and (we) gave them the confidence. We encouraged them to walk on the edge."
Royals were a result-oriented team. As such, they were worth every dime of the 67 million dollars that it cost to buy that franchise.
The Royals proved that willow hitting leather, not the leather wallet, is what great cricket is made of. In support of that argument, the three IPL franchises that cost over $ 100 million did not make it to the final 4.
Take a look at the tournament MVP Shane Watson if you are still in doubt. Watson, who did not even make it to the Australian team touring the Carribean, made 472 runs from 15 games at 47.20 and with a strike rate of 151.76 with 4 fifties. Compare that to Dhoni's 414 runs from 16 matches at 41.40 with a strike rate of 133.54 and 2 fifties. Add to that Watson's 17 wickets with an economy rate of 7.07. Then compare the amounts the two gentlemen were paid. Watson received $125,000, a fraction of MS Dhoni's tag of $1.5 million. That should raise some eyebrows in the boardrooms of the Ambanis and Mallyas, as they look at the next season.
Another totally unknown batsman, Shaun Marsh, topped the league amassing 616 runs at 68.28 from just 11 matches for Kings XI Punjab at a strike rate of 139.68 with the aid of one hundred and 5 fifties.
Shaun Marsh, who until the beginning of his IPL endeavor, lived in the shadows of his famous father Geoff Marsh, has made a strong claim to fill the shoes of Justin Langer, who opened for Australia alongside Matthew Hayden before his retirement. Sohail Tanvir, who took more wickets than any other bowler in the tournament - 21 at 10.76 from just 10 matches, has also returned the best bowling figures of the tournament 6 for 14!
The performances of the icon players were not iconic at all. In hindsight, VVS Laxman did the right thing by dropping the icon status bestowed on him. Among the seniors, Jayasuriya stands out like a giant. He seemed intent on disproving any notions that he was way past shelf-life. He hit the most number of sixes, 31 to be exact, in the tournament - enough sixes to prove that it would be premature to write him off just yet.
One look at the players who earned everyone's admiration in this tournament, and you will realize that guaranteed wages rarely motivate as much as performance related benefits - such as the prospect of playing for the country. Here are the names that stand out - Manpreet Gony, Shikhar Dhawan, Abhishek Nayar, Amit Mishra, Ashok Dinda, Swapnil Asnodkar Niraj Patel, Ravindra Jadeja, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, P Vijay Kumar, D Ravi Teja, Vidyut Sivaram Krishnan, Pragyan Ojha, Siddarth Trivedi, Shrivats Goswami, Virat Kohli and Yo Mahesh.
Some others like Piyush Chawla, Yousuf Pathan, Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth, Gautam Gambhir lived upto their price tags and gave some notable matching contributions.
IPL has proved to be a huge success and it won't be long before all cricketing nations join this new brand of cricket-entertainment by promoting their own leagues.
Changes in the team compositions are a no-brainer. Also, the BCCI has indicated that it will schedule two tournaments a year, so a shorter tournament may be on the horizon. Whether or not the cricketers are ready for this, stakeholders will not want to lose momentum with all the money flowing into their coffers.
Another major success of this tournament has been on the viewership front, bringing a windfall to Sony Max. With an increasing number of women and young adults embracing T20 cricket, the cost of the 30 second ad sky-rocketed. Sony is supposedly charging Rs. 1 million per second, up five-fold from Rs. 200,000 or so at the start of the tournament.
Published here with kind permission of the author. A version of this article was first published on Idlebrain.com