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IPL's Pros and Cons
by Gulu Ezekiel
Feb 22, 2008
Is it only me or are there other cricket lovers around the world too who felt a sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach as the world’s cricketers were being auctioned off in Mumbai on Wednesday?

It was ironical to hear IPL co-founder IS Bindra waxing eloquent about the excitement in the auction room being greater than anything he has witnessed on a cricket field. Meanwhile, half a world away in Napier, England and New Zealand were fighting out perhaps the greatest one-day match in cricket history.

The fact that Bindra finds the sight of dollar signs more thrilling than a cricket match is perhaps the best indication of things to come in Indian and world cricket.

In my last column I mentioned that nothing could stand in the way of market forces. I still maintain that and if the BCCI had not put its weight behind the IPL, a private entrepreneur would have done the same.

Indeed, Subhash Chandra of the Essar Group with his ICL and Allen Stanford of Antigua with his Stanford 20/20 have already done so, just as Kerry Packer had snatched away the cream of world cricket 30 years and rocked the game.

Already the eight franchises are frantically working to spruce up the facilities at their respective venues with $500 million being allotted to the BCCI out of the IPL kitty.

Considering India are the major hosts of the 2011 World Cup this is most welcome considering the utter neglect of our stadia despite the Board being awash in funds.

Now with the fat cats of Indian business breathing down their necks and demanding the best of facilities, you can be sure the long-suffering Indian fan will finally get the comfort he deserves from the BCCI.

What of the flip side? The negative effects of the public auction are already being felt around the cricket world even as the players went under the hammer.

In Australia just as the CB tri-series is entering its crucial phase, we hear that pace bowler Munaf Patel is disgruntled that he has gone for the lowest price among the touring teams.

Teenage sensation Ishant Sharma meanwhile will surely face a backlash for putting the senior Indian stars in the shade with his massive price tag.

At Napier reports are emerging that there was tension in the New Zealand dressing room even as the thrilling ODI match was on with news filtering in from India about the varying prices being put on teammates’ heads.

Australian captain Ricky Ponting is seething over the peanuts he has fetched on the auction block and has publicly hit out at Andrew Symonds, the second priciest player after MS Dhoni.

The green-eyed monster, aka jealousy is a powerful and destructive beast within the human race and it has reared its ugly head now that the worth of every cricketer in the world is out in the open. What price national team unity?

One final word of warning: for a century and more the dressing room has been the sacred space for every cricketer. No one outside the playing and support staff circle is given permission to enter the sanctum sanctorum and with good reason.

Guys, be prepared for that to change! It is the piper after all who calls the tune. What bets that Preity Zinta, Shah Rukh Khan, Vijay Mallya and their ilk will be storming in, barking demands to their employees? It has happened with the owners of English Premier League teams and it is surely going to happen in the IPL too.

So is the IPL going to be a smashing success as its backers are so confidently boasting? It all comes down to the Indian cricket fan and that weapon of mass marketing, the remote control. Finally, the faceless fan will have the power in his/her hands and it is up to them to make or break this venture. All the money in the world is not going to change that scenario.

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