IPL heralds dawn of cricket's fourth epoch
When dusk descends on India this Friday evening, and the lights go on in Bangalore, not only will the Indian Premier League commence.
It will also launch the fourth age of cricket.
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The first era extended from the sport's birth in medieval England to the 1870s; the second covered Test cricket for the next hundred years; and the third was the commercial, international era launched in Australia by Kerry Packer.
Starting next weekend, India will shape the sport, as their eight city based franchises play matches of 20 overs per side in a three hour package designed for mass, global entertainment.
The salaries of the top IPL cricketers are beyond the wildest imaginings of anyone who has played before unless the Aladdin who went into a cave was a useful all rounder.
Fifteen cricketers are going to earn more than $800,000 (406,000) each over the next six weeks, assuming they play most of the 14 games for their franchise, and wherever there is a salary cap there is usually boot money.
It is not only the money. Other ingredients going into IPL are excitement, glamour, floodlit evenings guaranteed to be warm, music, film stars and women of a beauty which may not be on display to quite the same extent at Bristol, where Gloucestershire are simultaneously playing Derbyshire in the four day County Championship, or at Leicester where the home team are taking on Middlesex. Yes, cricket is moving on, and moving east, in step with the world's economy.
The biggest names will be there. Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath in lucrative reincarnations; Andrew Symonds and Ricky Ponting, after Australia's tour of Pakistan was most conveniently cancelled; all the icons of Indian cricket such as Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. You name him, he will be there, except for the leading South Africans, who have to miss the first fortnight, and all of England's leading cricketers (save Dimitri Mascarenhas) who, being contracted to the ECB until September, will have to put on their aprons in the kitchen and empathise with Cinderella.
A laser show in Bangalore on Wednesday evening is pandora discount jewelry scheduled to supply much of the detail about the IPL which has been lacking.
In the meantime we can turn to Ganguly, the most successful captain India have ever had, who is leading the franchise Kolkata Knight Riders. Speaking last week from Kanpur, Ganguly told The Sunday Telegraph he doesn't know what he is going to do with the $1.09 million he is due to earn by June 1.
Kolkata a generation ago was notorious for famines and victims lying in the gutter at the mercy of Mother Teresa. In some parts of the city which the Raj created yes, the British created both Calcutta and cricket, before failing to cash in now the grim images may hold true. But Kolkata also contains a vast expanse known as Salt Lake City, where an information technology sector is burgeoning and shopping malls make anywhere in England outside Oxford Street look cheap and provincial. It is this economy, replicated in other Indian cities but especially in Bangalore and Hyderabad, which will underpin cricket's new age. Some of the country's brightest brains are now going into the bracelets from pandora marketing of Indian cricket which, it can be safely said, has never been the case in England.
The owner of Kolkata Knight Riders is Shah Rukh Khan, as famous as any Indian film star. Their main sponsor is Nokia. Their coach is John Buchanan, simply the most successful coach ever in international cricket, as he was Australia's last. Their opening pandora online sale batsman is Chris Gayle, the man reviving West Indian cricket, with a style of hair and cricket to rival Symonds; their wicketkeeper/batsman is Brendon McCullum, the nearest New Zealand come to a star cricketer; and Ponting is a useful batsman. Ganguly
said: "I was personally present at the auction. Every franchise had an amount of $5 million to spend as a maximum, and there is a restriction of eight overseas players in each franchise, and you can play only four at a time. We have to have four Indian under 21 players, two under 19s, and four local players from our catchment area."
The last is, surely, an essential ingredient: spectators will feel it is their team, representing their city, with cosmopolitan signings.
"There's no restriction on the number of Indian players you can play, so we kept a bit more money for a fast bowler," Ganguly added. Which is how a tall 19 year old pace bowler called Ishant Sharma, who admittedly bowled brilliantly at Ponting in Australia earlier this year, is set to earn $950,000 in the next six weeks. The chief executive of Kolkata Knights, Jeet Banerji, explained: "Our franchise wants to target the youth, and Ishant is one of our main tools on and off the field."
Are these sums sustainable, or will the bubble burst? Banerji expects Kolkata to make a profit in the medium term, well before their 10 year franchise is over.
"Tickets only go on sale on Monday [tomorrow], and we have 88,000 seats at Eden Gardens, with seven home games to sell. Ticket prices will be lower than for India's matches but there will be more corporate hospitality."
Snags will arise, as they do when Pandora's box is opened. Team loyalty may be difficult to maintain as the lesser local players will be paid $30,000, while the stars receive 10 to 40 times as much, culminating in $1.5 million for India's celebrity wicketkeeper/batsman, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Prize money of around $3 million for winning the final in Mumbai on June 1 may tempt players to behave in ways not envisaged in MCC's Spirit of Cricket and the same may apply to the mafia who run the Mumbai underworld, 'Bollywood' and the illegal industry of betting on cricket.
As it has been officially estimated that $1 billion has been gambled illegally on a game between India and Pakistan, there might be a few bob on the result of the IPL final and, just conceivably, some vague thought given to influencing it or events along the way.
The sport's future will assuredly be shop pandora online reshaped. "For most players Test cricket is the highest form of the game," Ganguly said last week, but he was speaking for current cricketers. Any boy being raised in Kolkata's gutters will dream of fighting his way out by playing cricket of 20 overs per side.
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