IPL getting better and better, says Sunil Gavaskar

There were more memorable games in IPL 2019 and the future looks very bright indeed.

The IPL is, without a doubt, the best T20 league in the world what with the best players in the world playing in it.   -  Sandeep Saxena

This year’s IPL was perhaps the most competitive ever with 20 matches finishing in the final over of the match and almost an equal number in the penultimate over. This shows that teams are now more well-matched than earlier. There are still some baffling picks and if the other teams follow the example of the two finalists, Chennai and Mumbai, they will be able to trim the extra fat and look and play better. What both the finalists have shown is that there is no substitute for experience and in crunch situations it’s experience that scores over exuberance most times. This is especially true towards the latter part of the tournament where qualifying for the playoffs is on the line and then in the playoffs itself. This is where experience plays its part in calmly analysing the situation, not rushing into action and playing accordingly.

The IPL is, without a doubt, the best T20 league in the world with the best players in the world playing in it. That England’s top players are also part of it has added to its competitiveness and if the BCCI and ECB come to an agreement where English players will be available for the whole tournament then more English players will be picked by franchises. It would be a matter of starting the IPL, like this year, in the last week of March and finishing in mid-May and for ECB to start its international season a week later. It sounds simple enough but if egos come into play then it becomes well-nigh impossible as it has been till now.

This year, due to the ICC World Cup, players from countries other than New Zealand and South Africa had to leave early for the training camp. New Zealand and South Africa boards are well aware that their players would be better off playing the IPL for cricketing as well as economic reasons and so have allowed their players to stay for the entire tournament.

Chennai Super Kings skipper M. S. Dhoni has a chat with Dwayne Bravo during a match. Matches should technically finish in three hours and 10 minutes but often go on for four hours because the on field officials have not been strict enough to ensure that the captains get on with the game rather than have long conversations with their bowlers and thus delay the game.   -  AFP

 

The IPL will be even better if the matches finished well on time. Matches should technically finish in three hours and 10 minutes but often go on for four hours because the on-field officials have not been strict enough to ensure that the captains get on with the game rather than have long conversations with their bowlers and thus delay the game. Admittedly the tournament is also played in the peak of the Indian summer and so there are more unofficial drinks breaks than otherwise. Still, instead of a financial penalty if teams are affected cricket-wise then that would help the cause.

However, for that to happen you also need tough umpires who are not afraid to ask captains to hurry up. It is understandable to some extent that Indian umpires are in awe of the Indian players who are heroes to them. But when you find that even overseas umpires are reluctant to crack the whip then the skippers get away with lots and the game keeps getting stretched. Since the BCCI is still without its elected office-bearers there are no committees and so the same umpires have been officiating over the last many years. No new umpires have come in and often the umpires who are error prone keep getting crucial games and if they make an error then it can affect a team badly. True, umpires are human and will make mistakes like batsmen, bowlers and fielders but while the players pay the price for their own mistakes it is difficult to accept that they have to pay for their careers sometimes because of somebody else’s mistake.

The pitches, apart from some of the Chennai games, were generally good and that’s why there were so many shots into the crowd. Good pitches make for good cricket and the essence of the T20 format is the big hitting that brings the crowd onto its feet. Low scoring games do have a charm of their own but here only the winning team’s supporters end up smiling. On the other hand a good pitch makes for a far more memorable match.

There were more memorable games this season and the future looks very bright indeed.