Lalit Modi looked quite upbeat as he made all the captains in the IPL franchise sign off on a wall of sportsmanship in the opening ceremony of the IPL’s second season in Cape town, South Africa. However there was a remarkable difference in the first 2 matches played in last years T20 extravaganza and this one.
The first was off course the atmosphere, no matter how good the facilities may be in S.A they cannot replace the gladiator like feel the cricketers went through last year when they emerged before thousands of roaring, dancing fans to stride to the middle. In short the games had no charisma so far. They were like a packet of salted chips in comparison to a plate of spicey gol gappas orÂ mixed chat for the fans.
Both opening matches were to me bowler dominated affairs with the ball zipping around under the lights and making things very difficult for batsmen. If this is how the rest of the tournament is going to fare then its going to fail big time. Why? well because the entire thrill of T20 cricket is fans dancing and commentators screaming “its raining sixes”
Without the batsmen being able to T off like they did in India what is going to make sure the crowds limited as they are stay in place? If I want to watch a bowl fest I would go to a test match in England ya know? Plus the majority of subcontinental fans like their heros to be hitting balls out of the park, not playing fine cricket shots. So the sponsers will be nervous as to maintaining their tv ratings as well right now.
Thirdly although the tournament has been trasnplanted in South Africa the entire Indian feel of it is gone. Obviously bollywood stars dancing in the opening ceremony would not have made it “worth watching” for the S.A crowd but to retain not a single Indian element in the ceremony shows what? That this is no longer an Indian Premiere League but more of an International one, so I cannot even understand why its called Indian? Perhaps it is because the teams are still named after indian cities? That can change by the next years tournament too ya know.
The fact that a lot of international stars are not playing this time around has also taken away some of the luster, Sohail tanveer the highest wicket taker of last year is not there, Hussey and Symonds and Brett Lee are not attending either, so although English stars have been put into their places the results can not be the same as the gap in performence will stay in place.
In short if last years IPL started off with a bang this one seemed to have piffed out of existance even before it could take off. I hope things improve as the tournament goes on but with sparse crowds, bowlers advantage and the flavor gone hope is dim. I still maintain that even with rainy problems England would have been a better venue for this event to be shifted to. Now its upto Modi and co to prove me wrong.