Dear IPL– It’s in Fashion to Hate You!

Before I start my rant let me clarify – I’m no IPL fan. Give me a choice between Test, ODI, T20 and it will be Test Cricket all the way. I’m an avid test fan but I cannot figure out the venom being spit in media against IPL and the players who are shining there.

So here is my anti-rant to all the “knowledgeable” folks who love ranting about the IPL

IPL was never meant to be a stepping stone to the national team. The selectors are not absolute buffoons as we make them out to be. Barring Ashwin who got noticed cause of IPL (who btw also has a decent Ranji record compared to his peers) – I don’t recollect any player having made it to the national ranks.

Quality of cricket played at IPL will never match international standards – neither will cricket played at all other levels – school, college, university, state,national. It never does, it never will. So chuck that excuse out of the window to hate IPL.

It is criminal to compare Ranji and IPL. IPL is in no ways overpowering Ranji. The 70 Indian players out there know that IPL heroics won’t win them a place in the national side. It will though help them get noticed, and if they follow up with equally good performances in Ranji-Duleep – that will help them knock the doors of the national team. Only an idiot would rant over IPL diminishing the importance of India’s premier domestic tournament.

As rightly pointed out by @homertweets, IPL helps players to get a feel of playing in front of crowds of 30,000 plus and handling crowd pressure. Don’t tell me it is not important – many a folks have failed to cope up with this. Does Ranji or Duleep fetch you such crowds?

IPL was started with the intention of making the game popular – and it has succeeded to some extent. The fact that my mom keeps track of the points table, or my Gujju friend’s mom-in-law does not move from the TV when a match is on, foregoing her TV serials, or that stadiums are jam-packed for the matches; let’s face it – the non-fan is now glued.

Over the years, only those cricketers who made it to the national team were assured of some financial stability. The rest had to pick up odd jobs and play for their respective companies to ensure a regular income. If the likes of Srinath, Kumble, Ganguly, Dravid and Sachin had not pushed for the contract system – players who were out of the national squad would have been struggling to get the finances going. IPL helps them get some financial stability and who are we to stop them from earning it? A few years in IPL help them make the kind of money they would make after playing Ranji for decades. So really how is IPL such a villain as it is made it out to be?

If your next argument is that it messes up players techniques – then every T20 game played does that. Voice your concern over that format and protest against the other leagues in cricket-playing countries and the T20 World Cup as well, stop singling out the IPL as the mother of all goof-ups.

Cricket, as I’ve learnt over the years, is about simple joys  – whether getting that straight bat shot playing in the common verandah as a kid, or getting that winning run to win your college the university cup, or arguing over one-bounce out rule in gully cricket, or failing miserably to get that Warne/McGrath action right. It does not matter whether Sachin plays the awesome knock or Warne gets that 5-wicket haul. As a fan I enjoy every moment that the game throws at me.

I did not warm up to this format or this tournament easily – it took me much time, but I don’t think I hated it for the sake of being an elitist or “cool” or to be termed as ‘knowledgeable”. Test cricket has survived  the ODI onslaught and is surviving the T20 format as well.

The joys of each format of the game at every level that the game is played are different. Isn’t the Cape Town Test last year etched in memory forever? Did you not enjoy the Ranji final last year ? Do you not follow county cricket eagerly? Do you not hurry up to win that match for your office? Do you not rejoice over the wicket of your neighbour in your weekly cricket match?

Are you telling me that you did not enjoy Paul Valthaty’s innings against CSK or Ishaant Sharma’s 3 wickets in one over against KTK or Gayle scoring 37 off 6 balls? If you tell me that – you are lying. Blatantly.

I’m not saying the IPL is not flawed – that will make up for another post. I’m also okay if you hate it – you have the option to switch off your TV sets;  just stop spitting such venom all over and deriding the players who are performing well in it and the fans who are enjoying it.

And before I end this rant, my last question to all you Test Cricket and “IPL does not have international standards” purists – How many of you watched a single ball of the ODI series between WI-Pak and are currently tuned into the test match as well?

P.S: To the fun cricket fans I’ve met on twitter in the last few months – I owe it to you guys for making me enjoy the fun side of IPL