Cut from the Same Cloth
When the IPL was launched, a lot of people compared Lalit Modi to the late Kerry Packer. They were not off the mark. Both came from business families and used their clout to branch into cricket. Modi is still the ED of Godfrey Philips India while Packer’s father was a media proprietor. Both flaunted their wealth, had abrasive personalities with huge egos and regularly clashed with rivals.
Throughout his life Packer was plagued with government inquiries and hostile visits from the tax department. After the latest clash with Shashi Tharoor, Modi looks set to follow that path too. Packer in his youth was involved in a brawl at a rival’s office. Modi also faced assault charges as a student.
The World Series Cricket popularized helmets, coloured clothing, night matches, prominently displayed logos and the selling of cricket-related merchandise. The IPL is popularizing cheerleaders, football style clubs and the selling of cricket to the maximum. Both the WSC and IPL were seen as blatant commercialization when they came out. For those interested in the Zodiac, both Packer and Modi share the same sun sign: Scorpio.
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Bollywood and IPL don’t mix
While Bollywood stars have been very high-profile in IPL, the two haven’t been lucky for each other. No Bollywood’s star’s team has ever entered an IPL final and the star’s career hasn’t been that great either. SRK has been a disaster at IPL and he has flops like Billu, Dulha Mil Gaya along with not so great hit My Name is Khan during his IPL days.
Preity Zinta hasn’t a single big hit as a heroine after joining the IPL, while the fortunes of KXIP have been steadily on the decline. She will be wise to exit and take her share of money to the bank if her franchise is resold. In 2007, Shilpa Shetty won Celebrity Big Brother while Rajasthan Royals won IPL in 2008. In 2009, Shilpa met RR. The result? No semis for RR for the second year in the row. Shilpa too has done nothing of note in Bollywood of late.
Dada aur Dhoni ki Kahani
Sourav Ganguly and MS Dhoni are probably the two most successful captains of Team India of all time. However their IPL fortunes have been contrasting. While Dhoni has led his team to the semis for the third time in the row, Dada’s failed to make it to the semis three times in a row. How so? One reason could be management backing versus interference.
CSK is owned by India Cements, which have been among the quietest franchise owners. In return, Dhoni has total control and quietly goes about his job. Dada on the other hand, has been fighting two battles: Both on and off the field. When he was captaining Team India, he had a tiff with the coach. Here it’s the coach and owner. In IPL3 things were pretty quiet and Dada scored close to 500 runs, but it still wasn’t good enough.
Older or Younger?
The top 3 batsmen of IPL3 are: 36-year-old Sachin Tendulkar (561 runs), Jacques Kallis, 34, (542 runs) and Sourav Ganguly, 37, (493 runs). The youngest among them is Kallis at 34. When T20 came out, everyone talked of the younger generation adapting to it better, but it looks like the golden oldies rule the batting. Last year’s Orange Cap also went to Matthew Hayden, who’s a retired player.
Interestingly in bowling, it’s a relatively younger lot who dominate: Pragyan Ojha, 23 (20 wickets), Amit Mishra, 27 (17 wickets) and Vinay Kumar, 26, (16 wickets). Last year’s purple cap went to then 23-year-old RP Singh. So youth for bowling and experience for batting then?
The Beginning of the End?
Lalit Modi declared grandly on a TV channel that he swatted controversies like flies. Soon Shashi Tharoor resigned. One would have thought that this would have made Modi stronger, but now all the intense scrutiny is on him. So will the unthinkable happen and Modi be ousted from the IPL? If that happens, will IPL be better or worse without him? Will it be more democratic, more transparent and less crassly commercial?
Whatever it is, IPL4 will be a whole new ball game altogether. You have to remember that from the ashes of match-fixing came the glorious Ganguly-Wright Era. The debacle of the ODI 2007 WC led to the T20 WC victory and the Dhoni-Kirsten Era. So here’s looking at a new and improved IPL4 (if Modi is ousted, that is).
The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger.