CRICKET The IPL this season hasn't been the hot ticket it was for the last three years. Is it a case of too much too soon after the World Cup victory?
T he Indian Premier league was a six-week cricket tournament sporting a deadly mix of dazzling celebrities, millions of dollars, big name cricketers, cheerleaders, DJ's and a lot of entertainment. The tournament was a super hit and held the country in thrall every summer for three years. This year, despite the initial hoopla being created by the media, backed by the Indian cricket team winning the World Cup after 28 years, viewer interest in the IPL seems to have tapered away, if TV ratings conducted by various agencies are to be believed.
On the ground also, enthusiasm seems low as compared to the previous seasons. What are the reasons for this lack of public interest in the tournament?
Sanjiv, an ardent cricket fan says, “India winning the world cup last month was the greatest sporting achievement I have witnessed. The euphoria of that victory cannot be matched by the IPL. They should have given a break before starting the tournament. The players also looked jaded and tired after the World Cup. I feel that an overkill of cricket is responsible for this situation.”
He argues, “This format of the game is not fun enough if there are not many close matches. Except for Paul Valthaty, we have not seen many incredible individual performances as well.”
Pankaj, a businessman, who was spotted on a match day in Bangalore wearing a Delhi Daredevils T-shirt says, “The basic problem is that with almost all players being swapped, the loyalties that have been built over the last few years have to be rebuilt. It has affected the interest of many spectators. They are confused on which team to support. Teams which have kept the core of their earlier outfits such as Mumbai and Chennai have managed to bring in the crowds.”
He explains his predicament: “I used to support Delhi in the earlier editions. Barring Sehwag and Gambhir, most of the players have now moved to Bangalore. In football, though a few players may shift clubs in a season, an entire team does not change. This rule must be scrapped.” He adds, “The format is also confusing. There has been no clear logic in the manner in which the games have been distributed. With 10 teams in the fray, they should have been divided into two groups, with the top two teams qualifying for the semi finals.” Shivraj, a vendor selling flags and other merchandise near the stadium says, “Though the crowds for the first match with the Mumbai Indians were massive, it has tapered off in the other matches. Most people are seen sporting India T-shirts and were not keen on picking up the jerseys. Compared to the mad rush we witnessed during the World Cup, there are no giant lines for tickets.”
However he adds, “People who missed out on getting tickets for the world cup matches do see it as a good opportunity to watch their favourite players in action.”
As the tournament reaches its business end, vendors of merchandise, the people holding TV rights hope that viewer interest in the game may catch up and the stadiums would be full once again and the IPL will generate as much excitement as the previous seasons.