They tell us that the Indian Premier League is all about cricket and entertainment. Then why do we get the feeling that we are being cheated every time the teams step onto the ground; cheated not because we are being denied cricket or entertainment but simply because both, the cricket and the entertainment, could have been of a higher quality.
When the IPL first came into being – the underlying thought was that it would help Indian cricketers get better. Well, in the five odd years the tournament has been around – the IPL stars have struggled to get into the Indian team. Those who did manage to make the cut struggled in the Indian team and there were even more home-grown stars who simply faded away after one great season. So let’s be frank, the IPL does not make India cricketers. It helps line the pockets of the cricketers with a fair deal of money and that’s about it.
The rule that states each side can have only four foreign players in their line-up had a huge hand in why Mumbai went with this particular playing XI. But for a moment, imagine a Mumbai Indians side without any restrictions.
It could have actually looked like this: Richard Levi, SR Tendulkar, RG Sharma, Davy Jacobs, AT Rayudu, DR Smith, KA Pollard, Harbhajan Singh*, SL Malinga, Robin Peterson, Clint Mckay.
Only four Indians make it to the squad – Tendulkar, Rohit and Rayudu make it because of performance and Harbhajan because he is skipper. The seven foreign players – all T20 specialists in their own right – definitely give Mumbai depth, experience and frightening potential.
The same could be said about the Royal Challengers Bangalore who were forced to drop even Vettori, one of the finest left-arm spinners, in the world because of the ‘foreign players’ rule. Now RCB also have the likes of Dirk Nannes, Andrew McDonald, Charl Langeveldt and Luke Pomersbach among others in their squad and they too would have loved to field a ‘full strength’ squad given the opportunity.
But sadly for now, we are being forced to watch second string teams take the field. If the BCCI really wants the IPL to be recognised as a top tournament then it has to do away with rules that mean mediocre local talent is promoted ahead of established players. All the nine teams have loads of international talent
As someone once said, ‘Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge.’ The younger Indian players should realise that to get into any IPL team, they have to prove themselves as the best in the world; they need to step into the arena and do battle – it won’t be easy but it will ensure that the players who get to the teams are really good.
It’s almost like the Australian Sheffield Shied competition. There are only six teams – but the competition to get into the playing XI is intense and that ensures that players who come out of the system are good. Isn’t that what the IPL should also aim to do?
Even if you look at the English Premier League or the La Liga – all the top teams have at least 5-6 foreign players, if not more. They get paid well but the level of the competition is so high that all top players want to play in Europe.
The quota system ensures that quite a few Indian players end up playing. But on the other hand, it also lowers the quality quotient of the tournament. The Indian players are the privileged ones here — they have played in these conditions for years. So why do they need a quota? Reservation is not the way forward, competition is.
As things stand, the IPL could be so much better. When we go to the ground, we don’t go to the ground for the local players – we want to watch the best possible cricket; we want to watch virtual World XI battle to the end and for that to happen, this local quota needs to be scrapped.