By James Jose
Cricket fans, especially in India, have yet again been treated to an entertaining edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Spread across three months — March, April and May — fans have lapped up the twists and turns, experienced the highs and lows of the most popular cricket league.
In a heavy dose of 60 matches, fans have been pampered, quite literally, this season. The 12th installment is yet to see its endgame, with the final to be played in Hyderabad on Sunday.
But there is a flipside to it all. Everything has.
Too much of something isn’t always good. Like they say, short and sweet, works just as fine. And perhaps, Indian cricket’s governing body, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the IPL Governing Council, could do well to consider some changes in the future, especially when a World Cup year comes around.
Simply put, it has been a bit of an overload, if things are taken into account rather objectively. Sixty matches is way too long, almost to the point of saturation.
True, fans may come through the turnstiles and stadiums across the country may be packed to the rafters, no matter how many fixtures are scheduled.
One case in point: fans braving the rain and waiting well past midnight to watch Royal Challengers Bangalore take on the Rajasthan Royals at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.
But spare a thought for the players and staff, who are virtually living out of a suitcase. True, they are the show, but it’s a really hard grind when you are travelling from one city to another, practicing and then playing. It is the same cycle again and again and with such short turnarounds between matches, it can take a toll —especially in a World Cup year.
There are the inherent dangers of injuries and burnouts with a tournament so long and India already had an almighty scare in terms of Kedhar Jadhav. He is a key member of India’s World Cup squad and team management must surely be fretting on his fitness.
The ideal and perfect scenario would’ve been to rest the squad members with the World Cup around the corner. But then, such is the lure and pull of the IPL: that option wouldn’t have been possible. Franchises have worked in tandem to manage their workloads.
But it still brings up the question of a tournament so lengthy and its after effects. Three months is as good as a cricket tour; better scheduling and moving the tournament to a much earlier date would be a better option.
Perhaps India could’ve taken a leaf out of Pakistan’s book. The Pakistan Super League, held in the UAE, was short and sweet with 34 matches played over a month. It began on February 14 and was done and dusted on March 17. Pakistan also wrapped its key World Cup members for Australia’s tour of the UAE, in cotton wool, and they returned refreshed for their tour of England. They couldn’t have planned it any better.
Some food for thought then for the BCCI.