In season five,Brand IPL was consolidating. And then the story changed
The unexplained anger that was welling up on the Indian Premier Leagues field of play has spilled over. It first flooded the dug out area across the boundary line and then swamped the plush lobbies of the team hotels. Season five was to be about packed stands,close finishes,Chris Gayles tall sixes and all of it combining to make it a memorable spectator experience. Smooth organisation in the stands and sensational play on the field was making Brand IPL stronger than ever. And then it happened. IPL 2012 will now be remembered for players snapping at each other like drivers with road rage and owners with apparently little control over what they say or tweet.
It all started with a misplaced aggression cultivated by the players. The ferocity of the glare at the rival and the inventiveness of the accompanying invective assumed a disproportionate importance. The temper tantrums,when caught by HD cameras and replayed on giant screens,have created an intimidating atmosphere. Grudges are carried to dressing rooms and post-match parties. The rogue teams in this IPL are also those that have high-on-fame but short-on-fuse captains or owners. Obviously,the big spenders havent budgeted for anger management experts in their jumbo squads. When you appoint Harbhajan Singh as skipper,for instance,it is a given that there will be excesses. Put by his side the volatile Munaf Patel and you have an explosive combination. In Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli and Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir,are two players whose lips school-going children shouldnt be allowed to read. The past week saw two franchise owners,KKRs Shah Rukh Khan and RCBs Siddharth Mallya show that restraint wasnt one of their virtues.
So what next? As an emergency measure,the BCCI needs to redraw a few lines. But more importantly,if the league aspires to mature,its important stakeholders need to grow up.