The Ultimate MADNESS
It is time for the biggest tamasha again. The anticipation fine-tuned, celebrations skyrocketed, jumping orgy of cheering damsels erupted even as the...
It is time for the biggest tamasha again. The anticipation fine-tuned, celebrations skyrocketed, jumping orgy of cheering damsels erupted even as the anchors and analysts danced to the thunderous blaring trumpets... and then Brett Lee's first ball of the season did not just hit the stumps, but broke it into two. It speaks of the energy and emotion involved in the sporting mania that has viewers and fans across the globe. This sure is a recipe for the ultimate madness - the IPLA What was a chiseled art- the finest form of British sensitivity, has become a Spanish pastime of ultimate gruesome killing of the bull The octogenarian politician Karunanidhi who withdrew support from UPA protesting against the lacklustre attitude of the UPA government towards Sri Lanka and supported the ban on Sri Lankans playing in Tamil Nadu, has his own nephews owning a franchise, having a Sri Lankan - Kumar Sangakara as its captain! And a Tamilian- Muttiah Muralitharan, a world class spinner, who settled in Sri Lanka and married a Tamil girl from Tamil Nadu is not allowed to play in the very state to which he belongs. Gollapudi Maruthi Rao It all started with a business tycoon Kerry Packer, who could sense the pulse of the world millions and could smell the colour of money, when he confronted the cricket authorities of Australia in 1977 and broke all conventions in inventing yet another 'performance' of cricket in the form of 50 overs version. Top players from several countries were lured into this tamasha at the cost of their place in their international sides with England captain Tony Greig jumping the band wagon leading them. Packer's aim was very modest at that time of securing the broadcast rights for his Nine Network. He was an astute business man - a man who had no qualms about either the sensitivities of the game or of the people who man it. He declared, "There is a little bit of the whore in all of us, gentlemen. What is your price?" and could get away by destroying the system. Over to Twenty 20 It was then he improvised the shorter version of the game- a saleable piece of exercise with coloured livery, white ball and what have you. He broke all the conventions of the British sensitivity- to whose origin the sport originally belonged and the one day sport arrived. And then it was again in England, if my memory serves me right, the T20 version took shape- mainly to serve the galleries and pumping the adrenalin to the heads. What an irony! A country which has invented a great sport had, after all created its antidote as well! It is not the usual drab five day ritual anymore nor is it the 50 overs version, which has its prolonged share of boredom. It is an adventurists' pastime and a dare-devil's silver platter. The game has a sense of urgency, a nervous immediacy, an expectant déj� vu and importantly no qualms about the finesse. You arrive, you charge, you survive and then you conquer. It is all over even before you start. It is anybody's game on any given day. The vulnerability is its charm and the collapse of the best player on a given day is its challenge. The fact that the predictability takes the second bench makes it more attractive and sometimes mediocre nonchalance might well be the winner, making it more democratic- a vulgarity in the sports parlance. This is not to undermine the genius of the craft, but to highlight the susceptibility of the shorter version. The fact that the modern man cannot afford to pursue his interest for five days nor can he stretch his concentration to a full day makes the T-20 a welcome sport. What was a chiseled art- the finest form of British sensitivity, has become a Spanish pastime of ultimate gruesome killing of the bull. It is not a treat to the heart anymore, but an elixir to the nerve. What was vintage wine has become lugubrious admixture of vodka and tonic. The day's relaxation has become the night's intoxication. No finer wrist play of Mohd Azharuddins or VVS Laxmans. It is all the way the raw power of Chris Gayles or Yousuf Pathans. A new form, a new goal, a new recipe arrived. When the players retired from their respective home teams permanently, it used to be an adieu to the game once and for all. Not anymore. They can come back into another version of the game, earn millions in spite of their retirement- (or perhaps a good riddance!)- Because you have lot of money here. Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid, Muttiah Muralitharan, Jacques Kallis, Keiron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Brett Lee are but a few examples. The phenomenon called Lalit Modi Looking back, somebody ushered into the horizon and extended it beyond the continent. He was Lalit Modi. He finetuned the sport, could see through the avenues to extend this fever beyond the geographical boundaries of a nation and make a comprehensive admixture of world talent and converge it into one activity with the promise for great business. His vision was multifold in the sense- he could consolidate the genius of the game at a point and sold for a price. And then started the auction of talent. Millions poured into the coffers. People were astounded. Players crossed their Lakshmana Rekha to grab the Mackenna's gold- the cricketing nations were baffled. They warned their players, banned some of them, threatened to boycott them, but as Packer rightly surmised in the early seventies, the orgy devoured them. And then IPL arrived. Biggest Cricket Circus The great carnival started with aplomb the other day. This is one mind boggling event on the face of earth. Pepsi won over Airtel to sponsor the event at a cost of Rs 396.8 crore. Nine teams play 76 matches, each team playing 16 matches play at 12 different venues during the next 53 days- It is not mere sport anymore. It is an exercise where the auctioned players deliver their commitment as per the contracts signed with their franchises and the game lovers pay for them. But in the end Rs 25 crore prize money will be distributed; 10 crores for the champions, 7.5 crore for the runner-up, 3.75 crore for the teams in the third and fourth place. The income for the BCCI in this enterprise (that has ceased to be just about a sport) is 1.6 billion US dollars! This is an international hara-kiri. A West Indian bowls a ball to an Australian while a New Zealander, Sri Lankan and a Bangladeshi player storms around to catch it and an Indian captain rejoices at the result while millions around the globe watch the tamasha. The Hall of Shame IPL has its own share of ironies, pitfalls and adventures to recollect. A Central Cabinet Minister Shashi Tharoor lost his ministerial berth because of his alleged involvement in the deal of Kerala Franchise due to a vested interest for his, the then girl friend Sunanda Pushkar. Lalit Modi, who had gained international popularity travelling in his private jet is a wanted man in his own country and a fugitive living in London. Money and power are beguiling intoxicants. Money has the curious propensity to travel simultaneously in two directions. It travels faster to the head than to the bank. In the former chairman of IPL Lalit Modi's case this became a chilling truth resulting in the mighty fall from grace for a man who featured not long ago on the cover of 'India Today' as the Czar of Cricket. A famous film actor of Bollywood who graced our Gollapudi Srinivas Foundation told me in confidence that these days his pastime at London is to give parties to the film stars and other dignitaries and continuously tweet, pouring out his anguish and grudge all the time. The octogenarian politician Karunanidhi who withdrew support from UPA protesting against the lacklustre attitude of the UPA government towards Sri Lanka and supported the ban on Sri Lankans playing in Tamilnadu, has his own nephews owning a franchise, having a Sri Lankan- Kumar Sangakara as its captain! And a Tamilian- Muthiah Muralidharan, a world class spinner, who settled in Sri Lanka and married a Tamil girl from Tamilnadu is not allowed to play in the very state to which he belongs. In a country where several states are drought ridden, lakhs of gallons of water is being sprayed each day to keep the cricket field lush and grassy. Leader of opposition in the Maharashtra legislative council Vinod Tawade had written a letter to Rajiv Shukla lamenting about the 65 lakh litres of water going to be wasted watering the grounds and pitches in three stadiums: Wankhede in Mumbai, DY Patil in Navi Mumbai and the Sahara stadium in Pune. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chief Raj Thackeray insisted that each of the owners of IPL teams donate Rupees 500 crores for drought relief, as an apology to the mindless swindle of the natural source. A newspaper, which was popular in South India for almost 50 years serving the community with pride and dignity, came to a near collapse because of its inability to handle its franchise. CBI seizes 11 imported luxury vehicles from BCCI Chief N Srinivasan for some irregularity. While it is a pastime for many, for the biggest business houses in this country like Ambanis, Mallyas, Subrata Roys- IPL is a treasure trove for making quick bucks. Shah Rukh Khan gets banned from Wankhede stadium for an outburst at a security guard allegedly under the influence of alcohol. A 'Cheer girl' talks about turning into a 'Porn Girl' in the late night parties after the matches. In Delhi a player is arrested for assaulting a couple after the woman resisted his advances. A cricketer getting injured in a brawl in a scuffle in a New Zealand bar, Jessy Ryder becomes news in Amalapuaram and Nidadavolu in India, something unthinkable before. People volunteer to burn hundreds of man hours to watch and rejoice the game while this country cannot afford to waste them- and poverty stricken children in rags with aching bellies could be seen everywhere. It is unthinkable even to surmise as to how many hundreds of man hours are burnt each day at these stadiums. The Silver Lining Having said this, by default, cricket is an indirect instrument of emotional integration and even a propellant of universal family hood - Vasudaika Kutumbakam. Where else do we find so many countries converging to make a people happy and united? And when we have a cocktail of glitz, glamour, money, power and lots of fun, then it is natural to have juicy underbelly to it. So don't complain. Just relax, sit back, and enjoy the game. May the best team win.