With the big bucks and glamour came the controversies, like the spot-fixing scandal that led to Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals being suspended.

Ten seasons of IPL Its success is not just in revolutionizing cricket but also other Indian sportsImage: IPS Facebook page
Voices IPL Wednesday, April 05, 2017 - 09:47

To gauge IPL’s resounding success, one only has to look at the number of professional T20 leagues that have sprung up across the cricketing world since the successful launch of the cash-rich Indian event back in 2008.

The biggest tribute to the multi-million dollar IPL in India’s otherwise uneven sporting landscape would be the launch of a professional league in kabaddi, largely seen as a rural sport that rarely ever made the sports pages of newspapers until a few years ago.

Such has been IPL’s impact that hockey, badminton, soccer among other sporting disciplines developed their own professional leagues by drawing inspiration from IPL’s successful business model, and this, in fact, has helped India shed its image of being a one-sport (read cricket) nation.

A heady mix of the country’s corporate bigwigs and Bollywood stars took the cricket world by storm with their financial muscle in Mumbai, and the gentleman’s game saw cricketers being auctioned for the first time, that some players said made them feel like “cows being sold at a cattle market.”

Yet, as we ring in the 10th edition, which kicks off in Hyderabad on Wednesday (April 5) with defending champions Sunrisers taking on Royal Challengers Bangalore, you realise the extent the competition has grown and the role it has played in revolutionizing world cricket.

With the big bucks and glamour came the controversies, the biggest blow being the spot-fixing scandal that led to Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals being suspended for two years. The two teams will return to the fold next season.

However, no one can deny that the IPL, and by extension the T20 format, has made cricket exciting and that the fast-paced approach has rubbed off on the two older formats, so much so that Test cricket has become more result-oriented and thrilling.

Like the Internet turned the globe into a smaller place, the IPL brought together a majority of the cricket world, leading to knowledge-sharing, enhanced fitness, spectacular fielding and eventually changed the complexion of the international game.

All the stakeholders gained, players especially. Tamil Nadu’s Thangarasu Natarajan was the highest paid uncapped Indian player in the 2017 auction after he was bought by Kings XI Punjab for Rs 3 crores.

“Everyone has realised that there is big potential in the Twenty20 league. There are two sides to it; there is a commercial value to it and then the development of young cricketers coming through,” Mumbai Indians coach and former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene told reporters recently.

“India started the IPL and it has helped its young cricketers play with international players and learn the game much faster. Their development has been proved at international level,” added Jayawardene, who has played in several T20 leagues across the world.

“Australia has gone in the same direction. David Warner played T20 before he played Test match cricket. England is going the same direction. I think T20 cricket is here to stay. It’s a question of taking a decision of how much does one need… I think the fans will decide that.”

IPL turned cricket into sporting entertainment. The big hitting, T20s version’s inherent fast pace, glamour, cheer girls and match timings attracted primetime viewership in India and also enhanced global viewership.

Official broadcasters Sony Pictures Network Pvt Limited has said IPL’s cumulative reach grew from 102 million in the inaugural season to 361 million last year. Meanwhile reports placed the channel’s advertisement revenue from IPL last year at Rs 1,200 crores, a four-fold growth from 2008.

Global valuation and corporate finance adviser Duff & Phelps has reportedly valued IPL brand at $ 4.16 billion (around Rs 27,000 crores) in 2016 while a KPMG study for the BCCI shows that the IPL contributed around Rs 1,150 crores to the Indian economy in 2015.

“What the 1983 World Cup win by Kapil’s Devils did to Indian cricket, IPL has done to world cricket. A lot of youngsters have taken up the game,” Tamil Nadu cricketer-turned-coach Chandrasekaran Vasanth told The News Minute. “IPL’s brought in more money, more fame, more fans into the game,” he added.

Some believe IPL and T20 cricket has affected the temperament of the batsman in the longest format. “Too many aerial shots,” said another former Tamil Nadu player-turned-coach. But that’s the challenge of being a modern-day cricketer.

Clearly, the hits by far outweigh the misses in the IPL, as we gear up for season 10, comprising 60 matches and spread over 47 days (final on May 21). It promises to be exciting, notwithstanding the long injury list including the talismanic India skipper Virat Kohli who will miss the early part of RCB’s campaign.

And a week after the IPL, India will be in England to defend the Champions Trophy that starts on June 1.

Sanjay Rajan has written on sport for over two decades. He tweets at @SeamUp.

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