The early days of the Indian Premier League (IPL), as many of us will remember was structured around the concept of city loyalties; it used to be a case of nurturing city allegiances, cultivating home grown talent and embellishing regional ‘Icon players’ in a whole new T-20 light. However, moving into the 7th edition of the IPL, a lot seems to have changed. The crowd that was initially sucked in this regional pull of the IPL now seems to be complaining about a lack of local flavour in their respective teams. Is their claim legitimate? Or, is the average enthusiast reading too much into the game?
For a few years now, there have been some gradual shifts and rearrangements amongst the team rosters. Constantly shifting bases, many people argue that most of the teams no longer support their own local players . Chennai has had the best score in this regard, as they continue to play all three local players; Murali Vijay, S Badrinath and R Ashwin, together on a regular basis. However, by todays standards, sporting 3 local players can be called a rarity. “Team captains are supposed to be the representatives of a team. Watching Virat Kohli represent Bangalore and Gautam Gambhir represent Kolkata really annoys me sometimes.” said one ardent Delhi Daredevils supporter.
And if these reactions were rather latent in these last few years, some recent developments definitely seem to be guiding this sense of alienation towards more vocal expressions of dissatisfaction. Due to clashing dates with the Lok Sabha elections, the 1st leg of IPL-7 had shifted its base to the United Arab Emirates. Talks of another leg in Bangladesh are also not completely off the mark. So, not only are the players not local, but now even the home ground is not really ‘home’ anymore. In such a context, how are the fans expected to have any sense of attachment to their teams.
A broad analysis of the BCCI policies (in the IPL) over the years would lead one to discover of its compromising shift from a position of promoting regional unity to one which now endorses global integration. This however, has exposed some serious double standards in their policies.In essence, what seems to be lacking amongst the committee members of the IPL is a broader and future oriented perspective on the whole issue. And since the whole topic of creating a more regional or global outlook is intricately linked with the former question of what exactly does the committee plan for IPL’s future, it seems to be abundantly clear that a solution to the former would naturally create an answer for the latter. Therefore, the need for a defining stand will not only help the committee develop a more clear perspective on matters, but also lead to many more bright prospects for the sake of the IPL as well as its followers.
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