I know I am in a minority, maybe even a namuna. I haven’t watched a single IPL match from the beginning to end and something inside me doesn’t want me to. I understand the craze, but can’t get crazy. It’s not that I don’t follow cricket. I do. How can I not? I have even skipped school for days to watch Test cricket on TV. I don’t usually get overawed by celebrities, but scrambled just to get a photo with Vivian Richards and while shaking hands with Anil Kumble, the 10-wicket haul against Pakistan at Feorzeshah Kotla 1999, immediately replayed in my mind. The night of the 2011 Cricket World Cup win is one that I wouldn’t forget for the rest of my life. I think criticism of Sachin Tendulkar is akin to blasphemy. But I can’t watch Sachin bat for the Mumbai Indians. I tried, but couldn’t.
The problem lies in my short attention span. Now you’ll say, what does Twentry20 cricket got to do with attention span? For me attention comes from interest and the interest emanates from an emotional connect. This is missing in the IPL. I can’t emotionally connect with this kind of commercial cricket. Yes, international cricket is also commercial, but Sachin will not be playing for Pakistan in the next season.
Sport, for me is about loyalty and loyalty comes from some kind of consistency. The only thing consistent about the IPL over the last three seasons are the team owners (though not always so). Team owners can’t command my loyalty. Not even Shah Rukh Khan. Next is the city. But do these teams have anything to do with the city apart from their names and the venue called their home ground? I think not.
So why don’t I just watch it for entertainment like millions of others? I would have liked to but 51 days of matches that for most of the time can’t be told apart from one another (quite like Bollywood’s masala movies) is just too much torture to bear for my fragile mind. The IPL to me is akin to street fights fought with kiraye ke tattoo over hafta money. Could be interesting to watch, but without any stake for the viewer.
This is also why I don’t watch club football but am hooked during the World Cup and other international matches. Team sport is about teams. When what forms a team can change from season to season, I don’t know who to support. And if I can’t support one team over another, it tastes like stale beer. And I like my beer chilled and fizzy.