Indian cricket is a strange phenomenon as it continues to belittle the various problems it faces and act and, at times, perform well in spite of them. Now if you go out and ask any ordinary person, who may or may not have any interest in the game, what is the biggest problem facing the de facto national game of India, he or she will say that it is the IPL or more specifically the corruption engulfing it. As a common cricket lover and a well wisher of my country’s cricket team I ardently wish that this tournament be scrapped at the earliest.
However, even someone with my level of intellect understands that it is easier said than done. This is a big money-spinning machine that is slowly turning into a Frankenstein’s monster and devouring international cricket. For example, cricketers such as Mike Hussey are retiring citing fatigue yet they are getting enough energy and motivation to take part in the tournament. Someone of the caliber of Jacques Kallis did not take part in the Champions Trophy because he was dismayed at the lack of his contribution for the Kolkata Knight Riders and wanted to think his game over. While many people will praise this decision, for me it smacks of lack of understanding of the fact that T20 cricket cannot be a yardstick to judge anyone’s class and that too from one of the gods of the game, if I am allowed to use the term.
The English board that was till now the staunchest opponent of the IPL have now opted to readjust their cricket schedule and start the county season outside England supposedly in order to free up their cramped schedule. The actual reason I feel is very clear – to make sure that the counties are able to take part in the lucrative Champions League T20.
The IPL is one tournament where the biggest of the big of the Indian business scenario are investing their money – I think soon Tata and Wipro and other companies may start bidding for teams as well. If the tournament is scrapped, then obviously, it will be a major financial loss for those companies and you can be sure that the all powerful BCCI will feel the heat as well. Moreover, the tournament has already built up a brand value for itself for all stakeholders of the game and withdrawing it will only result in loss of face for the board.
Scrapping this tournament will also have a dreadful aftereffect on the Champions League T20 as well because almost 40 per cent of the teams in this tournament are from India only and this also contributes effectively to the marketability of the tournament as well as its success. I still think the tournament can be done away with but there are certain areas, which, if corrected, will yield positive results.
The first thing that has to stop is the series of after parties held following the games. It is well established that these parties are at the root of the whole corruption issues plaguing this tournament. This is where the bookies try to approach the players through their agents. I am sure that if this can be stopped a lot of problems plaguing the tournament will stop as well.
One more thing that can be done is have a draft system instead of the usual auction – this has been happening in the Sri Lanka Premier League and will happen in the Caribbean Premier League soon. The players on offer can be distributed as per their rankings among the various teams. This can be done for the international as well as Indian players. The auction system can be brought into play for the domestic players. This will ensure an evenly matched tournament where all the franchisees will be happy and content with the make up of their squads.
The maximum number of players allowed in the squad may be trimmed as well to 20 players at the most and more players can be acquired in case of injuries. I think 8 overseas players in a team will be enough considering not all international players get a game in the IPL. With a smaller squad it will be easy for the team management and anti-corruption officials to keep them in check. Players who are not regulars in a team are easy bets for the bookies and chances are whenever they get a game they may not hesitate to indulge in spot fixing or some other nefarious activity.
This can also be controlled if there are rules that all the members of a team have to be given ‘x’ number of games. Otherwise, the team in question can be asked to show cause for not opting to play a certain player and upon an unsatisfactory reply may have to pay the player some form of compensation.
However, these are merely suggestions and I do not really expect them to come to fruition any time soon but I am sure that these could be answers to some of the problems plaguing the IPL.