The Sourav Ganguly- John Buchanan saga may be shaping into another battle of sorts. But the battle of the icons had begun long before and it is taking a toll on one of IPL’s selling features when first initiated.
The outcry over Buchanan’s ideas was on expected lines. But Ganguly is only a representative of the problems that represent the icon players. The IPL organizers, namely, Lalit Modi, sold the idea of the IPL has city based franchisees and it only seemed logical then that the IPL would appoint icon players who would not only bring in the loyalty but have name in their own right to draw in the crowds.
By then undermining Ganguly, the Kolkata Knight Riders stand to alienate their home team, irrespective of whether the IPL is played in India or in South Africa or anywhere else.
But that the icon players would soon be devalued amongst their peers was obvious. Sachin Tendulkar is the lone man standing amongst the stalwarts and that is due to his long staying presence in the forms of cricket that have long abandoned some of the icons.
Strangely instead of fielding young men for a young man’s game, the IPL chose to go the way of men who were not even playing the one day game for reasons irrelevant to this issue. Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly have all already tasted the bitter taste of disapproval despite their long standing careers.
Rahul Dravid being sidelined in the Royal Challengers Bangalore team became a fact the day it hit Vijay Mallya that his team was becoming the butt of jokes. It matters little that Dravid or Ganguly had scored the most runs for their respective IPL teams. Laxman’s injury only precipitated what many felt was a much necessary change in order to change the fortunes of the Hyderabad Deccan Chargers.
Laxman at least had one or two voices demeaning the Deccan Chargers’ move to replace Laxman with Adam Gilchrist as captain of the team but Dravid has stood silent, as he always does, even as Mallya made his intentions known upon snapping up England’s Kevin Pietersen that he was determined to rope in the former England captain as captain of the RCB team, even if it meant that he would only be available for two weeks. The decision then to make Pietersen captain and have Jacques Kallis lead the team for the rest of the season has passed by without a disgruntled sound.
Neither of these men played in the World Twenty20 that changes India forever on the map of the Twenty20 game. Yet the IPL’s focal point to selling its city idea was employing these very men as flag bearers, and fortune makers for their teams on the cricket field and for their franchises off the field through marketing.
That they should be subject to such controversy, humiliation and ultimate sidelining seems like the one negative issue that the IPL could have spared itself, with a bit more sleek planning before letting the launch plane take off. At the present moment, it appears regional matters are bound to create these adverse reactions. But then if they did not, what would it mean in terms of the success of the IPL purely on its premise of the city based model?