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IPL marks a new chapter in cricket
by Sunil Gavaskar
Apr 19, 2008
By the time you read this, the first couple of matches of the Indian Premier League would have been over and while it is never easy to predict the success or failure of a tournament on the basis of just one or two matches, the world will have had an idea of what this is about.

Cricket has seen different chapters in its history and this latest one is going to be followed by the cricketing world with avid interest. Nowhere before have so many talented players from all over the world come together to play with and against each other in a domestic league. It is unique in the sense that the normal loyalties of state or country are not there but any player who takes this league lightly, and as a bit of fun, is likely to find himself out of the team and losing a lot and lot of money.

There is also concern expressed by many that players will forsake playing for their country to participate in this league but ask any player including those in the league who still haven’t donned their country’s cap and they will emphasize that its their dream and ambition to represent their country. That will not change however big the money is on offer, to play in the league. After all, a player is only known by how he has done at the Test level and not how he does at the club level. Yes he may earn more money playing for the club but if he wants to be recognized in the history of the game as a top player, then he knows that he has to perform for his country.

The one worry about the league will be about how good the pitches will be at this time of the year. Since it is summer and the sun is blazing down, the pitches invariably turn out to be dry ones and not as hard and firm as at the start of the season in October. A good pitch will ensure that the batsmen, and make no mistake the Twenty20 is a batsman’s game, they will be able to hit the long balls that will keep the excitement levels up.

Crowds flock to limited overs matches to see sixers being hit and while Test cricket gives the connoisseurs of the sport, the chance to watch a great fast bowler impose himself on the best of batsmen, the limited overs format gives the batsman the chance to get his own back by trying to smash the bowler who may have him hopping in a Test match. So when a quick bowler is dispatched into the crowd it is almost every man’s cricketing fantasy come true.

Like at school or college level, the pleasure of seeing the bully get it back is a thrill alright.

The IPL will provide all that and more am sure especially as the teams settle down and get to know each other and gel better as the tournament progresses.

It’s the latest chapter in cricket and the world is watching it.

Lessons for cricketers from Augusta

What the Augusta masters showed was that even the greatest of champions can get the simple things wrong. How often have we seen in cricket the best of fielders missing easy catches or the wicketkeepers fluffing a stumping opportunity even as the batsman is stranded yards down the pitch and scrambling to get back into the crease. How many times have batsmen hit a full toss into a fielder's hands and made the long walk back to the pavilion shaking their heads at their stupidity and ruing the missed scoring chance. It happens to the best and that’s why sports is such a great leveller. Tiger Woods finished runners-up once again and lost to the South African, Immelman by three strokes and he knew that, but for him missing some easy putts earlier in the day he would have probably been in a playoff for the green jacket with the South African.

Tiger’s gesture when he sank the Final putt on the 18th hole was a telling one. It was far more difficult than the ones he had missed earlier and so his gesture seemed to suggest what was the point of getting this putt right when he had not got the ones that mattered and those which would have increased the pressure on Immelman, the eventual winner as he came through to the final hole.

For Immelman too, the title would have been a lesson of sorts, for only a couple of years earlier he had a hole in one at the 16th hole and here on the final day his tee shot from the same hole went into the water which meant he lost vital strokes. However, since he already had a pretty handy lead, he was able to recover and win the title. What this teaches us lesser gifted sports enthusiasts is that, the sport can make a fool of anybody and anybody in whichever sport who thinks he is a master and not a student will sooner or later be brought down to earth and shown his rightful place. Making fools of oneself on the sporting arena is the greatest fear of all sportspersons, be it at the school, club state or international level but seeing how champions also struggle should teach us to enjoy sport without worrying about looking good or bad.

 
More Views by Sunil Gavaskar
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