Charles Dickens wrote in his classic, ” A Tale Of Two Cities” : “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…”, I was reminded of this when my Twitter Timeline today was filled with tweets about the ongoing auction of players for season 7 of the IPL. Cricketers from all over the world, in fact 514 of them were being put up for sale, as it were, to franchises/clubs for sums that in some cases defy logic. This despite the recent report from Justice Mudgal that there could be some things seriously wrong with this premier tournament.
Cricket is, as the old cliché goes, a religion in India and despite all the flak about match fixing in the previous IPL, everyone keenly followed the bids for the players, the super stars as well as the younger challengers. Some cricketers would have rejoiced at the amounts paid for them, while others would have been quite morose. I admire Yuvraj Singh, but I think he would be the first to admit he didn’t expect to be paid Rs 14 crores by Royal Challengers Bangalore.
While some players received higher sums than before, the reverse was also true in other cases. Saurabh Tiwary was signed on for a mere Rs 70 lakhs versus Rs 7 crores in the last league, a drop of 90 %!
What amuses or irritates some people (and that’s why I began with the quote from Charles Dickens) is that while huge bucks are paid to the cricketers you also have stories of employees struggling to get their dues from Kingfisher Airlines which belongs to Dr. Mallya who owns Royal Challengers Bangalore. In a country where the gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider, if anything, these anomalies stand out like a sore thumb.
Cricket has become a money spinner because of the huge amounts tied to advertising in the game. People will still flock to the IPL matches for an evening of entertainment. Indeed, India today is a nation of contradictions and the IPL is but one of the many examples of this.