Hello and welcome once again to DRS, my personal space where I talk about the world of cricket and my thoughts on the world of cricket. I thought we would focus this week on what's been a burning issue for some: whether the IPL should be banned or not.
Over the last few days, we have seen rather strange sights of politicians - many of whom have never held a cricket bat - suddenly screaming with moral outrage and calling for a ban on the IPL. I was particularly amused to see Lalu Prasad [Yadav], the Rashtriya Janata Dal leader and former Bihar chief minister, call for a ban on the IPL. Interestingly, Lalu's son has been contracted by the Delhi Daredevils for five years at Rs. 30 lakh a year, never played a single match for Delhi Daredevils, isn't a first-class cricketer, and now when his contract is getting over, suddenly Lalu talks about banning the IPL. We didn't hear Lalu Prasad calling for five years for a ban on the IPL. The fact is that many of these politicians - who talk about cricket - do so from a position of extreme hypocrisy and clearly in some instances illiteracy.
Yes, you can call for a demand in the IPL's governance to be made more transparent, that the entire process of auctioning players, of having players being bought and sold outside the auction process be made more transparent. But why does it call for a ban? Yes, there have been off-the-field controversies around the IPL, but just because there is an alleged molestation incident somewhere, surely that's not a reason why we should ban the IPL.
Let's be honest. Over the last seven weeks, we've seen some wonderful cricket on the field. Clearly in cricketing terms, Twenty20 cricket is actually evolving as a rather exciting game. You've got innovative stroke-play, you've got bowlers coming into their own. Who, for example, would have thought - when the IPL started or when Twenty20 cricket started a few years ago - that a spinner would emerge as the star performer. But that's exactly what's happened. Sunil Narine has shown what a spinner can do in the world of Twenty20 cricket.
So there's much to admire on the field when it comes to Twenty20 cricket, and I think the focus really should be on keeping the IPL on the sports pages. It's when the IPL starts coming on the front page, when you have a few unfortunate instances, that suddenly you have people coming out and calling for a ban on the IPL. You even have a Kirti Azad who staged his own version of a Twenty20 fast, where he went for a fast at 12:30 and quickly withdrew from it at 3:30 because there were very few supporters for him.
I think we've got to start realising that Twenty20 cricket is here to stay [and] the IPL is a great product. What this great product now needs - like all great products - is to be a little bit more accountable to the people of the country. I think eventually the IPL from the Indian privately, i.e., some close club of a few owners, has to become truly the 'Indian Public League', where you and I can enjoy the game of cricket.
Let's make the IPL about what we see on the field, and the off-field controversies should be seen, really frankly, as minor distractions. I think once we do that, we will recognise that we have really come a long way with Twenty20 cricket, and there's much to savour.