May 19, 2023: The last stage of the league phase of the IPL 2023 will be over by this weekend. In horse racing parlance, the teams are on the last bend with the stragglers already out of the fray.
They are Delhi Capitals, Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad, the back-markers who in their quest to keep pace with the squad may bump the likes of Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Lucknow Super Giants and Chennai Super Kings, out of the race.
This is truly an interesting situation for the tournament. This showcases the close contest between each of the sides. Although Gujarat Titans are leading the points table and have qualified, they have lost four matches on their journey till now and one cannot still place them as a clear-cut winning side.
Research apparently has shown, through the viewership, that the major segments following the IPL, revolves around young kids and betting enthusiasts. This is quite understandable, as the glamorous stroke play of sixes and fours and the unpredictable outcome of the result does add that spice to keep one interested and guessing.
The IPL has created that festive atmosphere of fun-loving followers and bold aggressive performers that send positive vibrations to each and everyone viewing the match. It gives one the opportunity to immerse oneself into a dream world of fantasy and expectation which takes one away from one’s everyday ordeals.
The IPL has become an entertainment in which one wants to see a spectacular not only on the ground but off it too.
Former cricketers have never been so fortunate before. One can see cricket superstars and legends at every corner, many viewing their expert opinions and others analyzing performances to the nth degree.
One wonders if the present generation of the T20 followers of the game are truly interested in the cricket hog-wash that is being churned out by these experts. Most of the viewers would struggle to identify the fielding positions or the difference between an actually good cricket shot to one that is top edged and mistimed to the boundary.
The only thing that matters to them is the equation of runs and strike rates. Cricketers too are now playing to the audience and this is where a few of the bold, young domestic cricketers have come into the limelight with scintillating performances.
Indian cricket is heading towards a similar success that one saw in the rise of the Indian Information Technology companies. The large pool of Engineering students and graduates became the source and back-bone of both the backend and frontend support of many major IT companies.
The major issues that were missing initially were the exposure to technology and the experience to the culture that existed in the outside world.
Companies brought in foreign experts and corporate gurus as mentors and business heads. This then led to understanding processes and procedures to develop innovative products. Gradually the Indians have taken over the leadership positions not only in India but also in several of the large establishments and companies abroad.
Indian cricket too is going through this similar phase and the IPL is a good example of it. The plethora of coaches and the support staff of foreigners was essential initially to understand the fast growing world of International cricket. One fails to understand as to why after 16 years, franchise owners are still hell bent on recruiting so many foreigners and support staff to man each and every area of the game in the IPL. India after all is presently considered to be the leading cricket nation of the world.
Good examples of excessive top heavy coaching staff are Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians. The others are no better or worse. One can understand the confusion that may be arising in the planning and execution not only amongst the staff but also among the players. A great cricketer or a superlative performer of the past, if one is not up to date with the present development and technology in ones’ field, would be just a person one would respect rather than relate to.
Franchise teams need to understand that the IPL is just a two-month, 20-overs-a-side tournament. There is very little that one can plan, especially, due to the field and bowling restrictions. Batters are dancing down the tracks, swaying in and out like boxers and twirling their bat in every direction possible.
The one who has made the bat into a wand of a master conductor, is Suryakumar Yadav. He seems to conduct his own symphony for everyone to revel in. Surya’s style is what T20 cricket is about and one wonders which of the legendary cricketers of the past would be able to teach his innovative stroke-play to the broods under their care.
An Australian journalist, David Nicol released a very interesting book, “Hitting with Firepower” batting in the 21st century. When I read it, I realised how far away I was as a former cricketer, especially as I was brought up on the “Simple Art of Cricket”.
However, the basics of cricket will always remain the same. With a bench of such wise and learned cricketers in every franchise team and players with lots of experience and others with a reasonable amount of experience, one sees elementary errors and mistakes.
A ‘no’ ball off the final ball of the match which one has arithmetically won, full tosses galore, dropping simple straight forward catches and not understanding the elementary cricket situation of ones’ team’s position are all unpardonable at this level of the game.
Cricket in the dressing room needs to be made simple. Equating it to football and other team sports is not necessary. It needs two strong individuals. One is the captain on the field and the other the coach off it. They control the plans, process and execution. The problem that most franchise sides, one gathers, are facing is that of the famous saying, ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’.
(Yajurvindra Singh is a former Test cricketer. Views expressed are personal.)