Plenty of glitz and glamour have been on view over the past few days. The build-up to the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) has been unprecedented for what is essentially a State Twenty20 competition featuring local cricketers.
The success of the tournament, beginning Wednesday evening at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium when Chepauk Super Gillies take on Tuti Patriots, will eventually depend on the quality of cricket played. Hype can only carry a tournament so far. Eventually, player performances and intensity of the duels will determine TNPL’s future.
The enthusiasm of the franchise owners, who have poured in large amounts of money, will have to be matched by commitment from some of the senior India and State cricketers as and when they get an opportunity to play in the competition.
By now the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) is resigned to the fact that outstation cricketers will not figure in the tournament. And there has been no word from the BCCI so far whether Tamil Nadu cricketers featuring in the ongoing Duleep Trophy will be available for TNPL as and when they are not playing in the XI.
A competition of this nature will always evoke strong reactions. The best aspect of TNPL is that the tournament takes cricket to the districts with Tirunelveli and Dindigul being two of the three venues.
TNPL is sure to invoke considerable interest in the districts. Spectators will get an opportunity to watch action-packed matches under lights involving popular State players. The tournament will certainly create a buzz in the smaller centres.
It is debatable whether a Twenty20 competition will enable cricketers to develop their skills for the longer format where Tamil Nadu, which failed to qualify for the knock-out stage of the Ranji Trophy last season, faces a crisis.
But what TNPL will do is provide the youngsters with a platform in front of a huge television audience. Performances, both with the bat and the ball, will get noticed. They will deal better with pressure situations. Some of the cricketers may get picked for IPL; talent scouts from the different IPL franchises are sure to be doing the rounds.
The youngsters, particularly from districts, will get a valuable chance to share dressing room, travel, practice and learn from some of the leading State cricketers. Guiding them as coaches and mentors will be former State stars such as Hemang Badani and some former international superstars like Lance Klusener, Michael Bevan and Brett Lee. Interestingly, former India opener V.B. Chandrasekar owns one of the franchises.
There are chances that a few raw talents from the districts could emerge from the tournament. TNPL could widen the reach of the game in the State, encourage more youngsters to take to cricket.
Importantly, the TNCA, which has emerged considerably richer after launching the tournament, has to ensure that it strikes a balance between TNPL and retaining focus on cricket’s lifeline, its first class competitions.
Wednesday’s contest under the lights here promises to be interesting. Tuti Patriots, led by the ebullient Dinesh Karthick and featuring former India paceman L. Balaji, has the firepower to make a winning start. Chepauk Gillies, captained by the often explosive R. Sathish and possessing multi dimensional cricketers like Vasanth Saravanan, is a well balanced outfit too.
There should be no dearth of action.
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