In September 2007, the BCCI under Sharad Pawar’s leadership, announced the introduction of a T20 league. The board had signed up some of the best players in the world and all of them were in India for the glitzy launch of the tournament. The Indian team was then in South Africa, participating in the first ever ICC T20 World Cup.
The main man
Lalit Modi, one of the then Vice Presidents of the BCCI, was made the Commissioner of the Indian Premier League. He was the driving force behind it and it was mostly his efforts that brought some of the biggest names in the corporate world and the Indian film industry on board as owners of the eight franchises. The player auction took place a few months later and was frowned upon by the traditionalists but brought the attention of the world. Three former Indian captains — the late Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Ravi Shastri and yours truly — were asked to come on board the Governing Council of the IPL. Ravi and I were entrusted with the job of allaying the worries of the star Indian players, who were in Australia, that they would be undersold and the player designated as the icon player of each franchise would get 15% more than the highest paid player of the franchise.
A thunderous start
At the end of the day cricket had to be exciting and riveting for the fans to flock to the stadiums and also watch it on television. The IPL could not have asked for a better start as Brendon McCullum hit 15 sixes on his way to a fabulous 158 that took Kolkata Knight Riders to a win.
It was a perfect take-off for the IPL and it has not looked back since despite the match-fixing controversy, which has led to the Supreme Court’s intervention in the BCCI’s affairs. There have been some memorable individual efforts and some incredibly nail-biting finishes that have kept the spectators rooted to their seats.
Over the years the IPL has made stars out of players, who otherwise would not have come to the fore in the traditional form of the game and has also made a few millionaires — some deserving, some lucky. It has grown despite the pessimistic outlook of its detractors and now in its eleventh season promises to be even bigger.
The swift action taken by the BCCI in responding to the bans announced by Cricket Australia on Steve Smith and David Warner will ensure no lingering of the unfortunate incidents in South Africa.
This season, some players, who were such an integral part of some franchises for the last several years, have found new franchises and that will mean new challenges for them. Their response to that will be interesting to see. Many of the franchises also have new captains and support staff.
The T20 format is not very tiring but the non-stop travel can take its toll on the players. It’s not easy to get sleep after a hard-fought game that finishes at almost midnight and then take an early-morning flight. Most teams practice just before the tournament starts and after that it’s mostly about keeping their bodies fit for the next game.
Exceptional TV coverage
The television broadcast over the years has been nothing short of exceptional and that also is a huge reason for the league’s success.
IPL 11 is kicking off and may the best team win.
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