Five things that make Indian Premier League succeed

Sunrisers Hyderabad cricket player Alex Hales takes a selfie with team members during the unveiling of the team's new signings in Hyderabad. (AP)
Updated 06 April 2018

Five things that make Indian Premier League succeed

  • Teams splurged almost $70 million on recruiting top players
  • Teenage leg-spinner Sandeep Lachhimane will be the first Nepalese cricketer in the IPL

NEW DELHI: The Indian Premier League on Saturday starts its 11th season of no-expense-spared cricket glitz.
Despite numerous scandals hitting the sport since its 2008 debut, here are five reasons the IPL is going from strength to strength:

– Steve Smith and David Warner will be missing because of Australia’s ball-tampering scandal, but a host of international stars led by England’s controversial Ben Stokes will still be picking up big cheques for appearing on the IPL stage. He will earn nearly $2 million for his seven weeks at the Rajasthan Royals.
Last season Stokes picked up $2.16 million with Rising Pune Supergiant and largely lived up to the hype by hitting 316 runs and taking 12 wickets in 12 matches.
His worth is such that the Royals were even “prepared for legal consequences” pending his court battle over a much-publicized street brawl in England.
Other top names from England, Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will also be taking part.
Teenage leg-spinner Sandeep Lachhimane will be the first Nepalese cricketer in the IPL after signing for Delhi Daredevils, though political tensions mean there are no players from Pakistan.

– The IPL loves to play up to its reputation for lavish spending. This was again evident during the mega auction in February, when teams splurged almost $70 million on recruiting top players.
The world’s most popular T20 league struck a bumper $2.55 billion broadcast deal with Rupert Murdoch’s Star India last September and is expecting higher returns in the years ahead.
IPL’s 60 games are now valued at roughly $8.5 million each, not far off the estimated $9.6 million per English Premier League match.
“The financial model is such that it has enhanced the financial strength of the Board of Control for Cricket in India and the IPL franchises,” BCCI treasurer Anirudh Chaudhary told AFP.

– Since its debut in 2008 the T20 has quickly become South Asia’s biggest sporting event, filling stadiums and attracting global TV audiences well beyond the appeal of Test and one-day competitions in the cricket-mad subcontinent.
The names of Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore are now serious rivals to foreign soccer clubs like Manchester United and Real Madrid among Indian sports fans.
The average attendance for each IPL game is about 26,000, but numbers rise significantly as the tournament goes on. “The IPL towers over everything in cricket, and among cricketers,” Australian writer Gideon Haigh told AFP.

– Big hitters like the West Indies’ Chris Gayle and home star Virat Kohli have always raised the IPL’s entertainment quotient with their towering sixes.
While Gayle is the clear leader with 265 sixes in 100 innings, Kohli has smashed 160 in 10 seasons with Royal Challengers Bangalore.
“Cheergirls” ensure the boundaries are suitably celebrated with booming music and a pom-pom flurry. Dressed in traditional dhoti and pagdi headgear, dancing drum squads sound off for sixes, fours and wickets while performing the bhangra dance — combining Punjabi folk traditions with western pop music.

– Even controversy does not dampen the IPL’s reputation. A 2013 spot-fixing scandal was the worst to hit the league but the fans kept flocking in.
Three of the eight teams from the inaugural edition, and two others since then, have been taken over by new owners, suspended or simply vanished altogether.
Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals are making their IPL return after serving two-year bans for the spot-fixing saga. But the Indian cricket board is confident of tackling any form of corruption after renewing its tie-up with the International Cricket Council anti-corruption unit for this year’s season.
Ajit Singh, a former top police officer, has been called in to head the board’s anti-corruption unit.


Cold comfort as Roland Garros starts in shadow of coronavirus

Updated 27 September 2020

Cold comfort as Roland Garros starts in shadow of coronavirus

  • A resurgence of COVID-19 cases means that only 1,000 spectators will be allowed into the grounds each day

PARIS: Roland Garros gets underway in chilly, damp Paris on Sunday still in the grip of the coronavirus which organizers had hoped they would escape by unilaterally pushing back the clay court Grand Slam event by four months.
Opening day will see 2018 champion Simona Halep start her bid for a third major while 40-year-old Venus Williams kicks off her 23rd French Open.
Andy Murray takes on fellow three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka in the day’s marquee tie in a rematch of their epic 2017 semifinal duel.
However, it will be an eerily unfamiliar tournament, even for defending champion Rafael Nadal, chasing a 13th Paris title, and 2016 winner and world number one Novak Djokovic, as well as Serena Williams, pursuing an elusive 24th major.
A resurgence of COVID-19 cases means that only 1,000 spectators will be allowed into the grounds each day.
In 2019, more than 500,000 people watched the two-week tournament on site.
Organizers had hoped to welcome 20,000 fans a day but in the space of just a few weeks, that figure was quickly downsized to 11,500, then 5,000 before the French government slashed it to a 1,000 maximum.
“Tens of millions of euros have gone up in smoke,” said French Tennis Federation marketing chief Stephane Morel as he mourned the loss of ticket income.
Players, meanwhile, have been confined to two tournament hotels with tight restrictions on their movements.
It’s at the hotels where they undergo Covid-19 testing, a source of controversy and recrimination in the build-up.
Last weekend, five players due to take part in men’s qualifying were stood down.
Two had tested positive while three others had been in contact with coach Petar Popovic who also tested positive.
Popovic told L’Equipe it was a “scandal” and had “(Rafael) Nadal been in our shoes, he would have had the right to a second or third test.”
On Friday, veteran Spaniard Fernando Verdasco said he was “outraged and frustrated” after being withdrawn following one failed Covid-19 test which he claimed fell between a steady stream of negative results.
Verdasco said he should have been allowed a second test.
Inside the grounds of Roland Garros, situated in the prosperous western district of Paris, there are further signs of the effect of the pandemic.
Normally bustling shops, food outlets and other commercial stalls have been shuttered.
Everyone at the tournament, including players if they are not in action or in practice, is masked. Hand sanitizers dot the site.
Instead of the early summer sun usually associated with the tournament in its traditional May-June slot, players will shiver in 16°C on Sunday with rain and high winds forecast for the first week.
That should mean overtime for the new retractable roof over the showpiece Court Philippe Chatrier.
On court Sunday, Halep, the top seed in the absence of world number one Ashleigh Barty, who opted not to defend her title on health grounds, takes on Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo, ranked at 70.
Wimbledon champion Halep is the favorite especially with US Open champion Naomi Osaka missing through injury.
Former world number one Murray tackles 2015 champion Wawrinka in his first appearance in Paris in three years.