In what is set to turn cricket into a rabid, monstrous business, the Indian Premier League kicked off in Bangalore amid the hype that is certainly here to stay. It’s cricket, cricket and more cricket than ever. The obsession just got worse. Fast-paced matches, inter-city rivalries, cheerleaders who make as much of an impression as the players and most importantly – a format of the game that seems to be played on steroids and takes passion in the Gentleman’s game to a whole new level.
Never before has India witnessed such an extravaganza in sport (although inter-city rivalries do exist in football’s I-League). Never before has an Indian crowd expressed an unnatural silence when Rahul Dravid hits a four, and followed it up with ecstasy at his dismissal. Never before have the corporates and film stars been so heavily involved with sport. This is a new era.
But this is league sport just the way it should be. It has existed for years in other countries and people thrive on their local clubs and cities coming up and delivering trophies and garnering acclaim and applause. It is new here. But you could clearly see that the Eden Gardens welcomed Brendon McCullum like a home-grown hero and went berserk at the dismissal of VVS Laxman, the architect of India’s famous win over Australia in the same ground seven years ago.
This will eventually benefit India, despite the opinions of cynics and critics of the league. Imagine the amount of experience the youngsters will gain in this tournament. They will get used to playing with the best, playing in front of huge crowds, playing with passion and working towards becoming national heroes. All that remains is for us to welcome them with open arms.
Let’s say cricket just got sexier.