Although IPL 2021 kickstarts on April 9 to provide respite to fans amid the pandemic, it's a foregone conclusion that despite the success of the league across 13 seasons, it is a cruel, unforgiving, and nasty tournament. While some may argue against it, stating it has made cricket extremely popular, made cricketers, the Indian cricket board, and the franchises richer, some purists of the game still loathe it and blame it for spoiling the image of the gentleman's game.
Although the benefits of the IPL are obvious, it's true IPL is cruel, unforgiving, and nasty. Here's why.
Cruel and demanding
No matter you enjoy a demi-god status in the cricketing world, if your performance is not up to the mark, you will be shown the door, and even dumped out of the squad, and eventually the league. And it becomes even tougher if the captain goes through a slump.
No one knows it better than Gautam Gambhir. The ex-Indian cricketer has led KKR to two IPL titles, but when the Kolkata team failed to win another trophy, he was released and bought up by Delhi Capitals at just the base price.
But the slump in form and leadership continued for Gambhir in the Delhi squad and he not only has to give up his spot, but also his captaincy to Shreyas Iyer. He never played any IPL game again and retired from all forms of cricket.
A similar but little less harsh story panned out for Sachin Tendulkar when he was benched during his poor run. Also, Yuvraj Singh was benched throughout the rest of the season in IPL 2019 after failing to perform in the first few games.
Hence, IPL and franchises demand nothing but the performance from the players and the captain or are ready to be shown the door.
Fans too demand high-level performance from their players, and anything that is short of expectation does not go down well with them. There have been instances when Virat Kohli has been booed by the Indians fans while playing in RCB jersey, leading Kohli to wonder that fans forget he plays for India as well.
Besides, loyalty is extremely rare in IPL and is not rewarded all the time. While Kieron Pollard enjoyed great support from the Mumbai Indians owners and its team management despite enduring a few poor seasons, Gauti was released as captain-cum-player from the KKR squad after the team failed to win a title since 2014.
Hence, Gauti's loyalty to KKR was disregarded and was made to leave KKR where he won two titles for them as a leader. Even a legend like MS Dhoni was not spared as he was relieved from captaincy duties of Rising Pune Supergiant in 2016 after a poor finish the previous season. Hence, IPL, franchises, and fans are extremely unforgiving when it comes to team results.
There have been many incidents when IPL has gone nasty. The spot-fixing scandal, Gauti-Kohli's infamous spat, Harbhajan Singh slapping S Sreesanth in IPL 2008, and the cheer-girl controversy – all this accumulated to convey the darker side of IPL. It could be not hunky-dory as it seems in IPL. And possibly there are many secrets that have been kept under wraps.
Cover image courtesy: BCCI