The IPL’s fading greatness: Edward Craig

The IPL has largely passed the office by this year (whether a dereliction of duty or a barometer for English tastes is unclear, let us know) but the bits I’ve seen have made me nostalgic.

Watching Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist just isn’t the same; they look like they’ve always looked, the familiar technique and bowling action, the competitive spirit, the presence – but when it comes to it, they’re just not that good anymore.

Warne rolls his arm over with none of that old snap, turning the ball gently with his fingers, not ripping and drifting it with his shoulder. The ball drops on a length, as it always did, but were it not from Warne’s hand, it’d be treated with little respect.

Gilchrist can still smash it but those lightning hands and quick eye are just that bit slower. Medium pace beware but Dale Steyn has little to fear. In fact, when Gilchrist was batting with Shaun Marsh against Steyn the other day, he looked every bit the elder statesman to Marsh’s player-in-his-prime: Gilchrist played mis-timed pulls and was beaten for pace; Marsh faced one ball that he drove easily to the cover boundary.

Gilchrist can still get 50s and 100s, Warne can still win matches from nowhere but they are doing it through experience, through memory not through the raw talent and performance that made them such box-office players.

None of this matters, I suppose, and Warne has retired. And the IPL is still richly entertaining in its own way.

It’s just a reminder of how greatness in sport is so fleeting and, perhaps, that no one has yet emerged to take their places.

Edward Craig is deputy editor of The Cricketer magazine

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8 Responses to The IPL’s fading greatness: Edward Craig

  1. Kris Alexander says:

    Ed, I think you’re onto something here. In the first 3 seasons of IPL we had plenty of coverage in Australia on Free To Air TV and you’d go into the office and talk about it. This year, there is no coverage, no talk about the IPL, it has drifted into insignificance (except for in India). Could it be that the only reason anyone spoke about it was because it was there in the forefront of our lives rather than because of passion for the game.

    • peter says:

      The emperor’s new clothes have been revealed as transparent. For audience figures to fall 25 percent in India is remarkable, but the big draw cards are falling away and the substance is failing to live up to analysis. Won’t be long before Sachin joins Warne and Sourav in the commentary box. The icc events will again immediately precede the IPL in 3 of the next 4 years and the overcrowded schedule is already forcing too many games into the irrelevance of daytime television. Lalit’s magic formula of prime time games featuring the sports biggest stars watched by Bollywoods biggest stars, funded by India’s ego driven business houses was a great one Now increasingly non prime time games, with less of the big name stars, funded by franchises that lose money and can’t be resold (despite the efforts of Rajasthan, Punjab and Deccan). It pains me to say it, but the event is also weaker without its biggest showman. It’s no longer “must watch”, it’s become wallpaper and all talk of a fixtures window for the IPL must surely end.

  2. Homer says:

    Last checked, the IPL’s target audience was neither the English nor the Australians. Last checked, online viewership was actually up from last year. Last checked, Indians had bought into the idea of franchise based cricket.Like it or not, the IPL is here to stay.

    As regards Sachin joining Warne and Saurav in the commentary box and the subsequent decline in revenues, the impact will be greater on the ODI and Test viewership ( and consequent revenues).

    Which begs the question – who will fund your game then?


  3. Paul W says:

    I’m English and I’m an avid viewer of the IPL, have been since day one. The anti-Indian sentiment of the English media is depressing however.

    West Indies v Pakistan Test series is currently being played in front of three men and a dog. Mumbai v Kolkata was played in front of 80,000 last night, many of them children who are falling more in the love with the game every match they see.

    IPL isn’t going away any more than India is going away. The format may change, some teams will invariably fail – just as they once did when the football league was being established in England – and some names and personnel may change. But for professional cricket journalists not to see the HUGE sea-change in cricket right in front of their noses is extraordinary.

    Please all IPL fans in India, know this – not all English cricket fans are small-minded and arrogant, many recognise the IPL for the innovative and entertaining creation it is. Warne & Gilchrist may be past their best – well that’s why their teams are the also-rans. Watch De Villiers & Gayle at Bangalore; Dhoni & Raina at Chennai or Malinga & Pollard at Mumbai if you want to see players in their prime.

    • Vim says:

      It’s a strange article for its headline as much as anything. When did a Wisden journalist admit to the ipl being anything other than utterly mediocre? Now it’s ‘greatness’ is fading?

      Each year it’s the same, they slag it off and yet it’s still there for the reasons other people have stated. It’s not for the English or Aussie audiences and the crowds still pile in.

  4. Pulkit Chandna says:

    @Paul W

    You nailed it. However, i think more than the English media being parochial, i think to a great extent it’s a case of varying interests. There are Indian cricket fans who can be just as irritating when they start crowing about Indian cricket’s might on and off the field. Not a problem really – just ignore. The IPL is staying, despite it being far from the finished article it can be.

  5. Hugh Faulkner says:

    Ah…the different perspectives of those who pay to watch cricket and those who are paid to do so! For the former, who often have few opportunities to see a game live, there is something magical about basking in the glow of the game’s legends, even in the twylight of their careers. When you can tell your grandchildren that you saw Warne bowl, it will matter not at what stage of his career that you did so. Throughout the game’s history, the ability of the great players to draw crowds has never declined in line with the fading of their powers on the field of play, just as ageing pop stars can fill concert halls long after their last hit dropped out of the charts.

  6. David K says:

    I think you’re reading way too much into it. I think the decline in the IPL this year can be attributed totally to the little fact that where was a big, exciting, jam-packed World Cup in India that ended only 6 days before the IPL started. And that’s all there is to it. The IPL next year will be big again.