Updated: April 9, 2021 7:28:12 am
As the 14th edition of the IPL is all set to roll out in a pandemic year, a tweet from Pakistan’s ageless star Shahid Afridi captured the journey of this tournament to a behemoth that overshadows much else in cricket. Afridi tweeted his “surprise” and “sadness” that South African players left mid-way in a series against Pakistan to join the IPL juggernaut. It felt like an outdated sentiment; the rest of the cricketing world dropped the raised eyebrows a few years ago. (Nearly) everyone loves the IPL: The fans, the administrators, marketers, broadcasters, corporates, and players.
In the recently concluded series against India, England’s rotation policy came under scrutiny. They had rested key players in the Test series primarily due to bio-bubble effects on mental health and also to be available for the white-ball games. Some in the English media and their former players even framed it as a tussle between Eoin Morgan, the captain of the white-ball team, and Joe Root, the Test captain, but not many suggested that the players play Tests and limited-overs games in India and rest for the IPL. Everyone in the ecosystem benefits from the premier T20 tournament of the world. And no one’s complaining.
It’s a great tournament, from the quality of cricket to the way it’s broadcasted, branded, and loyally followed. It is streamed in a number of languages and has unique content with the likes of Dug-out, a cricket-strategy-and-technique focused panel. The loyalty of fans is unparalleled, with humorous memes across languages to serious handwringing over the fate of teams. The brand world doesn’t have to try to create loyalty anymore; only to monetarily tap it. The IPL is here to stay, and entertain.