There is one very interesting thing about the IPL. Almost everyone loves it.
International cricketers have made their liking well known. All the boards want a part of the action and of course a slice of the money pie.
Corporate India and Bollywood are happy having stakes in the team. TV channels are still raking in the revenue. (The TRP ratings may have been lower than previous IPLs, but they are still higher than many regular serials).
CSK got full value from the players it retained
There are more employment avenues for commentators, domestic cricketers and cheerleaders. The media is happy because for two months, they are assured of a daily match report or two and potential controversies round the clock.
The fans also keep the TV set on every day even if they are not glued to it. If the ticket rates were kept at a realistic level, then you would definitely see packed stadiums.
But despite all that, the complaints still seem to outweigh the praises.
It's quite fashionable to criticize the IPL.
It's not real cricket. It's still tamasha. Cheerleading is not Indian.
It's driven by greed. Players play only for money.
Players are unpatriotic. They play for club over country. It's a shame.
It's not a real test of skills. It's just a slam bang thing. The performers here should not be rewarded with a place in the national team.
And so on and so forth.
If you don't like it, then why are you watching it in the first place?
It pays to be low-key
Would you be able to recognize Manoj Badale, Lachlan Murdoch, Aditya S Chellaram and Suresh Chellaram in a cricket stadium? The odds are that the average fan wouldn't be able to do so at all. They are the owners of the Rajasthan Royals and they won IPL1.
T Venkatram Reddy along with his brother runs the Deccan Chronicle group which owns the Deccan Chargers. While Reddy has been seen in the cricket stadium, he is a much rarer sight than his counterparts. DC won IPL2.
N Srinivasan is a powerful figure in Indian cricket. He is the Managing Director of India Cements and the Secretary of the BCCI. But Srinivasan is a very low-key man and prefers to stay firmly behind the scenes. CSK won IPL 3 & 4.
On the other hand, the most high profile owners of the IPL franchisees (who are seen in almost every match) are yet to win a title. Examples are Vijay Mallya of RCB, Shahrukh Khan of KKR, Nita Ambani of the Mumbai Indians and Preity Zinta of Kings XI Punjab.
In fact, after the high-profile duo of Raj Kundra and Shilpa Shetty came into the picture in Rajasthan Royals, the performance of the team dipped.
Moral of the story: If you want your franchise to win the IPL, then keep firmly out of the picture and give the limelight firmly to your team and coaching staff, much like the CSK!
3 months and 14 teams?
This time the IPL was expanded to 10 teams. While there was fear of dilution, it is amazing to note how many international players were still left out. The Pakistan cricket team is the biggest example.
With the worldwide interest in IPL, we could well have 14 teams and there wouldn't still be a shortfall of cricketers.
It would also be a great way of including as many associate nations as possible!
The Australians missed the first half of IPL for the Bangladesh tour. The Sri Lankans missed the second half of the tournament for the England tour.
So if the IPL lasted for 3 months, then you could well have international players coming and going all the time and it would be business as usual!
Club over country?
The "club over country" debate must be a very painful one for cricketers, especially the Indian ones. From 2007-11, the Indian team has won the T20 and ODI World Cups along with the Test crown. What more do you expect them to do for the country?
If they want to miss an occasional tour or two, what's the harm?
We also have to note that West Indies, New Zealand, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are the least competitive teams in the world.
Not wanting to take on such tours that are in no way challenging is definitely not a crime.
The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/