IPL and International Cricket

Cricket has morphed over the years. It started off with Test Cricket – where the game is played over five days. Then came the One Day International – just a day’s worth of play where each side bowls 50 overs. And now the shortest version of the game yet – Twenty20 Cricket where each side bowls 20 overs and the game takes about four hours in total.

All three versions of the game are still played. The purists view Test Cricket as “real” cricket. The One Day International is the most common version of the game and the Cricket World Cup that occurs every four years is based on this format.

Twenty20 Cricket, though, is where all the action is. And this is where cricket is innovating and changing the most. For the first time ever, cricket has introduced a franchise model. India now has a version of the NHL or the NBA – the Indian Premier League (IPL).

There are eight franchises and each one is comprised of both Indian and international cricketers (from Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa and the West Indies).The IPL’s season is just six weeks long. After that, the player return to their national teams and go back to representing their countries.

Up until now, cricket has always been about national teams competing and so it felt really odd to watch the first game of the IPL. But I quickly got into it.

In normal circumstances, Matthew Hayden (an Australian batsman) whacking a six would be a bad thing since it meant India was being pummeled. But now the crowds go crazy because Hayden is part of the “their” team. It is quite cool really.

I think a huge side benefit of the IPL will be the improved interactions in “regular” international cricket. Crowd behavior, or rather, misbehavior, will hopefully improve. Once you’ve cheered for Matthew Hayden or Andrew Symonds as “your guy”, how can you really boo him  when he represents Australia?

There are also relationships being formed within the teams. When you become friends with someone, you can certainly play against them and be a fierce competitor. But it is very unlikely that you can sledge your friends and cross the line into disgusting behavior. In case things do devolve, as in India’s recent tour of Australia (a low-point in team interactions), there will be multiple relationships than can be leveraged to resolve the situation quickly. Hopefully all the good bonding going on between the players in IPL will ensure that future series are more about the game and less about personnel friction.

IPL – bite-sized cricket with some cool side benefits.

Oh, I am cheering for the Chennai Super Kings, my home team. And at this point, the only undefeated team in the league!!