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By Gulu Ezekiel
The mass hysteria that has broken out over the obscene sums of money bid for the two new IPL franchises has managed to obscure some hard truths that lie behind the glitz which one has come to associate with this domestic cricket event.
Neither Pune nor Kochi, who will make their bow in 2011 are known as traditional cricket centres, though the former did have its golden years back in the 1940s.
Pune is represented by Maharashtra in the domestic circuit and it is interesting to note that they have just won the national Twenty-20 title for the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy. Of course with the IPL in full flow, this event has sunk without a trace since it was played by largely second-string sides.
Kerala has produced two international players over the past 78 years and finished 26th and last in last season’s Ranji Trophy where they have been stuck in the Plate league.
This however does not seem to bother Shashi Tharoor, the junior minister in the External Affairs ministry who is said to have been the inspiration behind the hitherto-unknown Rendezvous Sports World who made the successful bid.
I happened to question Tharoor over the phone as to where they will find the necessary players while part of a panel discussing the event for the NewsX TV channel.
The big question of course is: apart from S. Sreesanth, who else? I was corrected by the minister who reminded me of Abhishek Nayar who plays for Mumbai. Presumably he is of Kerala origin.
That makes a grand total of two though of course Tinu Yohanan will no doubt decide to come out of retirement at the age of 31. The first from Kerala to don national colours, he played the last of his three Test matches back in December 2002.
However, the very thought of Sreesanth leading a cricket side of any standard higher than KG makes one weep.
As for Pune, the last great player that the city produced was Chandu Borde. Since he played the last of his 55 Test matches in 1969 and is now 75 years old, it is doubtful he will follow Yohanan’s path!
Neither Kochi nor Pune currently have a cricket stadium, but then the IPL has always felt the best way to solve a problem is by throwing money at it.
No doubt Kochi’s problem will be solved by playing its games next year in Dubai where the cash required for the bid must have come from considering the sizeable Kerala Diaspora in the Gulf.
Meanwhile, injured players are falling like flies in the IPL and many nations’ selectors must be fretting about whether they will have a fit XI in time for next month’s ICC World Twenty20 in the West Indies. That particularly concerns the Indian national side.
Then again, that is hardly a concern for the IPL authorities, is it? They are too busy gloating over their latest financial windfall.
This column was originally published on butjazz.com