Thanks to eleventh hour negotiations between the Indian Premier League and ITV, cricket fans who gave a damn about the IPL got to watch it on Channel 4. But there is a general apathy towards the IPL in England. Of course, the IPL is taking place at the peak time for the EPL soccer and there are not many English players in the IPL. Or perhaps, the unabashed commercialization of Cricket does not suit the palette of English viewers.
David Lloyd, the former England player, coach and now commentator, pretty much sums up the mood in his column on Sky Sports website, “When you can watch Inter Milan v Barcelona, why on Earth would you want to watch Chennai Chunderers v Delhi Dipsticks?” Its not very uncommon to see English cricket columnists to take a shot at the IPL at every given opportunity.
Its possible that for people from outside India, it may be tough to associate themselves with a city-based franchise tournament taking place in India. But then, how is that when you go to a Nike store or a Reebok outlet in Chennai, you see a lot more Wayne Rooney or Ronaldo jerseys than say, Dhoni’s CSK shirt? May be, its because, Indian sport fans are a little more accepting of sports and leagues from around the world. Definitely more than your average english fan.
For the English fans, all cricket begins and ends with the Ashes.They spend a year hyping the contest and another 6 months after the Ashes, dissecting why they lost (may be not 2005 or 2009). The 2005 Ashes was very riveting, I agree, but that one series aside, I cannot remember a good series in the last 25 years and yet, they English fans cannot look beyond it. There was a time when cricket was ruled by England (literally) and they dictated to the rest of the cricket nations but those days are long, long gone. India IS the center of the cricket universe and England needs to get with the times, if they don’t wanna be left behind. Already, their county system is in trouble with some many of them not financially sustainable. Although the city based T20 franchise system is originally an idea from the England but the Indian board was quick to actually act on it and make it successful. To the victor, goes the spoils.
The IPL certainly has to clean up its image after the recent Modi-Tharoor debacle and the general negativity that has risen. But as a product, I do not have a problem with it except for the fact that they could get better commentators than L Sivaramakrishnan, but I must commend them for not bringing Arun Lal on board. Phew!