The Indian Premier League (IPL) is becoming exotic by the day, by the hour and by the minute. As Noam Chomsky has been termed as ‘arguably the most controversial intellectual on earth’ the IPL can also be termed as ‘arguably the most controversial cricket show on earth’.
Yes, cricket seems to be an integral part of the whole show, because the game played out there is undoubtedly cricket. Not in its pristine form, but definitely cricket. And the enthusiasts are getting bowled over by this very novelty daring enough to call it the future of cricket.
But more than cricket the glam sleaze and the kicks are helping IPL to have an almost twenty four hour live presence on the satellite channels. First, the novelty-driven media hype from the association of film megastars, the top industrialists and the business tycoons, the outright sale of international cricketers to the colorful matches being played in magnificent flood-lit stadiums.
Second, the cheerleaders. Scantily clad damsels dancing vigorously to every big shot played in a match. The live telecast cameras capture these desirable images in minutest details for obvious reasons. And this has created another most tantalizing controversy. The self styled socio-cultural protectors of India had already taken up the cudgels against this ‘most injurious’ episode to cherished Indian culture. The ministers, the police were getting busy. Echoes were heard even in the Indian parliament in session. One veteran regional political leader enjoying the image of a godfather in Mumbai had aptly called IPL as ‘cricket’s dance bar’. He rightfully wondered why the big crowds were flocking on to the stadiums-to watch cricket or the buxom dancers.
Third, but hopefully not the last, a resounding slap and bitter disconsolate crying. In a match played between franchisees Mumbai called Mumbai Indians and Team Mohali on the night of 25th April, 2008. Sree Santh, an aggressive pace bowler of Team India, was seen bitterly crying on the ground after his Team Mohali won the game dishing out the third consecutive defeat to Mumbai Indians. Harbhajan Singh, the Team India hero of a racist controversy with Andrew Symonds, Ricky Ponting and Mathew Hayden of Australia and who captained Mumbai Indians in place of injured Sachin Tendulkar, was probably distraught after the third loss and supposedly slapped Sree Santh while the latter offered a handshake.
One of the telecast cameras captured this unusual image and the IPL immediately ordered an inquiry barring Harbhajan to play further matches till the final decision. On April 28, 2008, the IPL banned Harbhajan for eleven matches to be played and he was virtually out of the IPL. A slap that cost Harbhajan more than half a million dollars. But he enriched the IPL and the satellite channels by the millions as he continued to be the top story for four days running from the night of 25th of April. The story was not over yet as the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) was to announce its verdict next. In the meantime the slapped kid and the slapping villain had become doting brothers.
The final huge beneficiary of all these factors is definitely the IPL (the BCCI). It has created a kind of cricket that is growing stronger day by day for all these ‘novelties’. The media is having its cup of joy overfilled, the crowds are loving it and the cricketers are shining bright.
Expect the unexpected!