While the IPL has been a big success, it does have its fair share of critics. Here are three fixes it needs to become much more relevant and widely accepted…
1. Shorten the game: The game goes on for too long and that’s why TRP ratings have been steadily falling from season to season. It is high time that either the tournament gets divided into 2-4 groups or each team plays each other only once to make the IPL more crisp and meaningful.
There is a plan to have even more teams in the long run and if the tournament got even longer, then it would be a travesty indeed.
2. Only BCCI to approve fitness: Injured players playing in the IPL has been a huge cause of concern. Clubs are more worried about their standings and TRP ratings and would happily push an unfit player into a match. There is a lot of pressure on an individual player and hence it cannot be left to him too.
Before every IPL, the BCCI should clear the fitness of every contracted player. During the tournament if the BCCI suspects that a player has been injured, then it should crack down hard on the particular franchise.
3. Make it part of the international calendar: There is a big problem with the scheduling of the IPL. The BCCI fits it into whatever space it gets into the Indian calendar. This leads to two problems. One is that it ends up being too close to an international tour and the fatigue factor crops up. The second is that it may not suit other countries and their players happen to miss out.
Both these problems can be sorted out if the IPL officially becomes part of the ICC international calendar.
Sachin’s captaincy woes
The great Sachin Tendulkar and captaincy just don’t mix. In Tests Sachin captained India in 25 Tests for a poor 4-9 win-loss record. In ODIs it was an equally poor 23-43. It’s been the same with the Mumbai Indians. MI failed to win a single IPL title across four IPLs.
In fact, last year when Harbhajan Singh stepped in as captain after IPL 4, he led MI to their first ever title at the 2011 Champions League. So that way MI’s chances of success increase this year. Bhajji can see if his Midas touch continues to this year and Sachin can just concentrate about his batting without worrying about anything else.
A CSK hat-trick?
Chennai Super Kings is by far the most successful team in the tournament and they must be asking if they can win again and make it a hat-trick! (They won in both 2010 and 2011) Captain MS Dhoni is still the 2011 ODI World Cup winning captain and though his form as captain may have dipped in the last year, his batting form is great. From the World Cup final to now, Dhoni has scored 815 runs at an astonishing average of 116.4.
CSK also has the services of Suresh Raina, who at 1813 runs is the highest run-getter in the history of IPL. CSK also has a balanced team and boasts of a fair share of all-rounders in its midst.
Should they reach the final, then they will find themselves on home soil where they share a formidable record.
Interestingly N Srinivasan, who has stakes in CSK, now heads the BCCI!
Of course “conflict of interests” is not something which Indian cricket wants to discuss.
Can Dravid do a Warne?
Aussie Shane Warne retired from international cricket in 2007 and captained Rajasthan Royals to victory in the first season of IPL in 2008.
Now Rahul Dravid finds himself in a similar position. He has retired from international cricket and finds himself at the helm of the Royals.
Dravid was a successful Team India captain with Test series victories in England and West Indies. He was also captain in India’s record of 17 consecutive chases in ODIs. Now free from all international worries, Dravid can use his cricketing acumen for the IPL.
He can also totally change his game to suit the T20 format without worrying about it affecting his Test technique.
This could well be Dravid’s last cricket playing assignment ever and he will definitely want to go out on a high.
The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/