How many teams have played in the IPL

India has had its own cricket league since April. The billion-dollar event is proving to be a huge hit. But critics say it's all about glamor and hardly about the sport in and of itself.

spl. Delhi, early May

Indians are crazy about cricket, this is nothing new. But the fever that swept across the nation this spring is of a new dimension. The newspapers have been reporting about it on their front pages for weeks, the streets are empty in the evenings. Since April, the country has not only had its national team, with which it can cheer, but also its own cricket league. In the Indian Premier League (IPL) teams from the eight largest cities will play against each other between April 18 and June 1. A fast version of the cricket brought into the country by the British colonial rulers is played, the so-called Twenty 20. Both teams have one inning each and play a maximum of 20 overs. The game only lasts about three hours instead of days, making it the perfect evening entertainment at prime time.

Bollywood is stealing the show from sport

The whole thing is not just about sports. The IPL is a media-effective mega-spectacle in which Bollywood, laser shows, fireworks and barely clad western cheerleaders almost push the cricketers into the background. “Bollywood steals the show from cricket,” was the headline of the “Hindustan Times” after the opening match. During the game between the Bangalore Royal Challengers and the Kolkata Knight Riders, their owner, Bollywood King Shah Rukh Khan, actually made the 55,000 spectators in the sold-out stadium screech louder than the sporting star of the evening, the New Zealand bowler Brendon McCullum.

The head of the IPL, Lalit Modi, is convinced that the tournament will give cricket a new boost worldwide. The fast game mode animate the lengthy sport and make it a mass event. The five-day test cricket, which is more interesting for die-hard cricket fans and more challenging for players, is not at risk, according to Modi. With the Twenty 20, which is more attractive to the public, less popular forms of cricket could be cross-subsidized, especially in the interests of sport.

The traditionalists, however, see the foundations of cricket being shaken by the spread of the Twenty 20. With the short game mode, the centuries-old sport loses its character, my critic. Rajdeep Sardesai, son of a well-known cricket player and head of the television station CNN-IBN, complained in a comment that Twenty 20 was comparable to tabloid journalism. It's about entertainment and no longer about sport in and of itself. It is a shame that good old cricket has no place in today's hectic world.

Die-hard cricket fans also complain that the patriotic aspect is being lost due to the mixing of the teams with foreign players. Indeed, cricket has been a major engine of Indian nationalism in the past. A defeat against Pakistan or Australia was tantamount to national disgrace; a victory led to exaggerated chauvinistic reactions. In the beginning, many observers were therefore not sure whether it would be possible to get the audience enthusiastic about mixed teams. The enthusiasm with which the Indians cheer the teams in their city surprised even the organizers of the IPL.

The legendary Pakistani bowler Shoaib Akhtar, whose doping ban was lifted for a month in Pakistan so that he can take part in the IPL, was enthusiastically received in Kolkata. And even the Australian Andrew Symonds, recently the number one enemy of Indian cricket fans, was celebrated as a hero in the domestic stadiums. During a test cricket between Australia and India in January, Harbhajan Singh, known for his abuses, made a racist remark to the Black Symonds, which led to a verbal war between the two countries. In the IPL, Symonds, contrary to expectations, received a lot more applause than Singh, who was suspended after one of the first games after beating an Indian opponent.

Sign of new wealth

The IPL is not least a sign of the new wealth in economically booming India. The rights to the eight teams were given to the highest bidder; In addition to two Bollywood stars, several well-known entrepreneurs have seized the opportunity to give their name a shine. The head of the largest private company, Reliance Industries, Mukesh Ambani, bought the rights to the Mumbai Indians for $ 112 million. The dazzling Vijay Mallya, owner of a brewery and an airline called Kingfisher, paid just as much for the Royal Challengers from Bangalore. In total, the team owners paid $ 724 million for their ten-year concessions. At the end of February, they spent another $ 42 million on their players at a sensational auction in Mumbai. The owner of the Chennai Super Kings, India Cement, paid the most for batsman M. S. Dhoni, who pocketed 1.5 million dollars for his six-week stint. That is an unusually high sum in cricket. In addition to the Indian superstars, the IPL features some of the best cricketers in the world, as they earn almost twice as much here in six weeks as for a ten-month engagement at home.

The IPL definitely brought the tycoons and film stars involved the publicity they wanted. It remains to be seen whether she will earn money with her teams. So far, there are some indications that the broadcast rights were sold for 1 billion dollars. Licenses and sponsorship money brought in as much again. In addition, the rush of spectators is enormous. The stadiums are usually sold out and the TV ratings exceed expectations.

England not amused

The Indian Cricket Association has applied for the IPL to be included in the international game calendar. But the International Cricket Council (ICC) has so far refused to officially recognize this. In view of its success, the ICC can hardly boycott the Indian league in the long term. Most national associations have already given in to pressure from their players, only the England and Wales Cricket Board has explicitly forbidden its members to travel to India. However, the captain of the national team, Michael Vaughan, is demanding that the English also be allowed to participate in the IPL, and other teammates are also urging the association to find a solution in the interests of the players.

The association's tough stance is already beginning to soften. A high official indicated that English players could possibly play in India for a few weeks as early as 2009. Apparently, one also thinks about beating the opponent with one's own weapons. England invented Twenty 20, but the Indians have recognized its economic potential, say representatives of the English Association behind closed doors. It would be stupid if you didn't benefit from their experience and set up such a league yourself. The association is in talks with Texas billionaire Allen Stanford. He is convinced that Twenty 20 could become one of the most popular sports in the world and is apparently ready to invest a billion dollars in an English version of the IPL. That should hardly cause the Indians sleepless nights. They have something that the English cannot conjure up: Hundreds of millions of cricket enthusiasts and a growing number of the super-rich who want to invest their money to attract the public.