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IPL lessons

Published Feb 19, 2016 01:09am


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The writer is a professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore.
The writer is a professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore.

AFTER a long wait, the Pakistan Super League is finally on. Given the passion associated with cricket not only in Pakistan, but all over the region one would want PSL to succeed. Though the Indian Premier League has taken a giant leap in South Asia, other countries, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka (SLPL) have also made attempts to have their own leagues with varying degrees of success.

Given the commonality associated with the game in South Asia in terms of non-cricket inputs, there is something that Pakistan could learn from the existing regional experiences of holding a cricket league. While inputs may be unsolicited from across the boundary, given the passion for the game cutting across various frontiers in South Asia, an external contribution may have some value!

The first point that one could draw from the experience in South Asia is related to what ultimately becomes the primary content. Despite the discovery of some young talents, the T-20 leagues are more show, business/money and bureaucratic hold. It is an irony that these leagues while having popularised the game, have also taken cricket away from it.

The Pakistan Super League must be clear on the role of foreign players.

The second lesson PSL could draw is to keep away the interference of politics, bureaucracy and even the underworld. Of the many reasons for the failure of SLPL, political interference from the then regime and corruption are considered key factors. Also, there are non-cricketing bureaucrats who have apportioned a role for themselves as officials. Team owners and sponsors are further additions to the non-playing component with crucial impact. Cricket in general and T-20 leagues in particular have become good business; the business schools in India see the IPL as an innovative business model!

But the real issue relates to keeping the game clean. The IPL in India had to let two teams go; despite winning championships, Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals had to be disbanded because of unethical practices. A clean league is also essential from an international perspective. Cricket is the only game outside basketball and football that has huge attraction from a non-European/American continent. Any wrong message will impact seriously on this flow.

Third, PSL must be clear in terms of the role and importance of foreign players. True, young players from Pakistan may be rubbing shoulders and sharing rooms with greats like Gayle, Pietersen, Watson and Sangakkara. Undoubtedly, they are legends, but most are now retired or on the wrong side of 30. The reputation of international players has to be borne in mind, if we look at them as role models for younger players.

Gayle and Pietersen have had issues with their respective national boards, not due to lack of talent, but because of their attitude towards institutions, norms and fellow players. PSL should ensure that the young players avoid imbibing the wrong qualities from cricket’s heroes. It is important that PSL doesn’t spoil young players. The Akmals and Shehzads have to be harnessed in the right way. The Amirs and Butts should serve as a warning.

Fourth, there is a domino effect that cricket leagues have on other games that are fast losing relevance. Thanks to IPL’s success, there are similar franchises today in football, kabbadi, hockey etc. The success of T-20 is likely to trigger a sporting renaissance in South Asia. So the cleaner the PSL, the larger the possibility of it becoming a role model for other leagues.

The fifth issue relates to where the game is played. Though IPL was also played away from India (in South Africa) for a season, it is important that PSL comes to Pakistan. For the game to progress, the players, especially the international ones, have to get along not only with players in their team, but also with the local people and culture. Devoid of this connection, the players will be nothing more than mercenaries, with no attachment to either the team or the people.

Finally, for purists of the game, PSL should ensure that the T-20 format does not aid the demise of the larger versions of the game. The Misbahs and Younis Khans should not become relics and irreplaceable. Young players have to step into their shoes and demonstrate the will and talent to stay long and play an innings of substance. Unless one succeeds in playing all formats of the game, it is unlikely that he will be able to succeed in pitches across the world, whether playing a shorter game or its longer version. Raina and Rohit are yet to emulate Kohli.

All the best, Pakistan. Hope, in the near future, we succeed in crossing the political boundaries and see Peshawar Zalmi playing Kolkata Knight Riders in Chittagong as a part of a South Asia Super League!

The writer is a professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2016

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (15) Closed

Faisal Jaan Feb 19, 2016 09:31am

Dear Professor,

Money is deity in today's changing world of Cricket. Financial insecurity drives the adrenaline in the players. Indian cricket has thrived in last decade due to IPL, and its sole reason is the financial soundness of the Jadejas and the Rehanes. Players like Kohli will always make it to the top, but others lesser talented ones need a platform to earn their bread and butter. I expect the same from PSL.

muqadder Feb 19, 2016 09:39am

I love the last paragraph of the Article

Javid Mir Feb 19, 2016 10:33am

thanks great piece of Mind. lets change the shape of south Asia. Promote peace and happiness. Please visit also our country and we welcome you in Lahore and Karachi Literary Festival.

Saif Feb 19, 2016 11:28am

"So the cleaner the PSL, the larger the possibility of it becoming a role model for other leagues". True. By the same token, however, it can be said that lets hope IPL, the corruption infested league, doesn't become role model of/for other leagues in India.

raziuddin Feb 19, 2016 12:43pm

Thank you for your insight and expressing a mutual yearning

umair aslam Feb 19, 2016 12:56pm

Stupendous analysis and concerns shown. Exceptionally drafted..

Kunal Majumdar Feb 19, 2016 01:14pm

IPL has spun a mini economy. Where there's business, there'll be corruption. Therefore the biggest challenge for IPL is to keep it clean. No brand/sponsor would like to be associated with corruption/controversy, that too with the hyperactive Social Media in India. The fact is people are slowly losing interest in IPL. How long will the Vivos and PayTMs of the world will shell out cash.

Qureshi Feb 19, 2016 03:31pm

South Asia Super League ! i like that Idea ! brilliantly written. Thanks for your candid opinion. Much appreciated.

Muhammad Imran Yousafzai Feb 19, 2016 03:41pm

The idea for South Asia Super League is great!

Nauman M Feb 19, 2016 04:02pm

This is a great piece of writing and very relevant.

Attitudes of Gayle, Pietersen of being bigger than the game do rub in with the younger generation of talented cricketers whereby the arrogance takes over and destroys their cricketing life well before they reach maturity.

Yes the T-20 leagues are more show, business, money, sex glamour and sleaze packaged. The hitherto planted glamour "film stars" who have hardly any knowledge of the game are seen showing "drama serial" emotions and sadness when a wicket falls or the other side scores a boundary.

It just isn't cricket any more.

XY Feb 19, 2016 04:25pm

"It is an irony that these leagues while having popularised the game, have also taken cricket away from it"

Well it was inevitable after the Big 3 coup of cricket. The Big-3 monopoly has reduced cricket into what is mostly a business venture favoring the cash rich boards. The ICC has been reduced to a rubber stamp and smaller boards are left to fend for themselves. With the Big-3's hijack of cricket, these showbiz leagues are a desperate attempt and perhaps a natural course of action by smaller boards to stay afloat

Nauman M Feb 19, 2016 05:12pm


Well said. Bravo.

CALCUTTA MAN Feb 19, 2016 09:58pm


What has Big 3 got to do with IPL? Isn't this bashing for the sake of bashing? Let it go mate, let it go...ease up.

Gus Feb 19, 2016 10:40pm

India should atleast allow India B and India C team members to participate so that friendship and comraderie develops.

saqib Feb 20, 2016 08:12pm

We would rather NOT play in India seeing the biased refereeing and unfair decisions meted out to Pakistani players during Kabaddi Championship 2014 held in India.