IPL 2021: This tournament continues to be a game-changer

James Jose/Dubai
Filed on April 9, 2021 | Last updated on April 9, 2021 at 08.16 am
Mumbai Indians' Hardik Pandya celebrates with the trophy. (AFP file)

It would be fair to say that the IPL revolutionised the format and has become a brand in itself

We are on the brink of another instalment of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and it not only continues to live up to its tag of being the most popular franchise cricket league in the world, but also one of the richest, across a variety of sporting disciplines.

What began by borrowing an idea from the England and Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) domestic T20 tournament, it would be fair to say that the IPL revolutionised the format and has become a brand in itself.

To put it in perspective, the IPL ranked fourth among the top 10 most profitable leagues in the world with a revenue of $7 billion, as of last September. America's NFL, MLB and the NBA occupy the top three with the IPL even ahead of the English Premier League as well as the La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and the Uefa Champions League.

And although the league's brand value dipped for the first time in six years, to 3.6 percent last season, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) still earned Rs40 billion as revenue from last year's edition that was staged in the UAE. Furthermore, the IPL saw a 25 per cent jump in TV viewership, in comparison to 2019.

And while the numbers are quite impressive, the IPL has and continues to be a game-changer in India. The league not just provides a fat paycheck to international stars, rising stars from cricket-playing nations but has also unearthed some real gems from India, a country obsessed with cricket.

The biggest gain from the IPL has been the league providing a platform for previously unknown cricketers to come into the spotlight and show their worth. And it has also opened the door for cricketers who have toiled hard on India's domestic circuit. The big money that comes with the IPL has also had a knock-on effect on India's domestic cricket structure with the cricketers getting a better pay.

All of these have only gone on to serve Indian cricket in the long run. There can be no greater experience than rubbing shoulders with top international stars and learning from them, and that has only gone on to benefit these players. The format has thrown up a number of fearless young cricketers, in keeping with the ethos and philosophy of this current Indian team. And that, in turn, has provided these youngsters a pathway to the Indian squad, be it Test cricket or the limited-over formats.

India's successful tour of Australia and the recently concluded England's tour of India are cases in point where a number of players made the step up from the IPL to international cricket.

Players like Sunrisers Hyderabad's T Natarajan, who was virtually an unknown quantity until last year's IPL in the UAE, as well as Shubman Gill and Prasidh Krishna of the Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore trio Mohammed Siraj, Washington Sundar and Navdeep Saini, Mumbai Indians pair Ishan Kishan and Surya Kumar Yadav, to name a few, have been by-products of the IPL, as well as domestic cricket. It has only gone on to enhance India's bench strength across all formats and become the envy of other teams.

With this being a World Cup year, with the T20 event to be held in India in October-November, this season's IPL, the 14th edition of the league, will act as a precursor and could throw up more talented cricketers who could quite possibly give the Indian selectors a selection headache, ahead of the showpiece.

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