It’s safe to say that cheerleaders have been the most frivolous of the elements that the IPL has introduced into cricket. Frivolous enough to make them sitting ducks on the BCCI’s firing line. It’s not surprising that the expulsion of the inevitable scapegoats is right up among the board’s ‘Operation Clean Up’.
But while there are much graver issues at hand,the lengthy proposal mooted by interim BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya doesn’t come across as anything more than a desperate PR attempt. There are plenty of sporting leagues around the world,such as the NFL and the NBA,that have maintained a serious image despite the presence of cheerleaders on the sidelines.
The changes suggested by Dalmiya & Co are unlikely to change the widely prevalent image of the IPL as a spectacle of glamour and extravagance where sport is secondary. The move to implement the ICC’s standard T20 norms is a good starting point.
In addition,the BCCI could look at injecting sobriety in the manner in which they project the league,starting with the way it is covered on TV. Rather than have some of Indian cricket’s legendary names dancing,rhyming and spewing shayaris in the studios,they could put their cricketing nous to better use. Why not have them discussing the finer cricketing aspects of the IPL and avoid the banter with Bollywood celebrities and anonymous TV stars.
They could even get rid of the muzzles placed on the commentators and make them sound less like voice-over artistes advertising the IPL’s major sponsors. Permitting them to describe the on-field action without any irrelevant add-ons and discuss even the prickly issues surrounding the IPL on air could go a long way towards bringing sanity to proceedings. Only then will viewers even take the on-field action seriously.
At least the BCCI seem to have moved out of denial and accepted that the IPL needs a shake-up. But the league’s present predicament calls for far more stringent measures. There is a serious debate to be had over cheerleaders,but what role have they exactly played in spot-fixing?
(Bharat is a principal correspondent based in Mumbai)