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IPL-2 mantra: Innovate, Ideate, Improvise
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The Twenty20 game is constantly evolving. The second edition of the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) flagship Twenty20 event, the Indian Premier League (IPL), is likely to bring in even more variations, newer ideas and theories as the teams try to outsmart opponents in this fast and furious format.

For starters, quirky new features which have been mooted even before a ball has been bowled include the much talked about multiple-captain theory, two-sided bats and 10-minute strategy breaks. Like the Twenty20 concept itself, each innovation has its fans and its vociferous critics. The old guard may eventually give away, but not without resistance.

The multiple-captain theory

For starters, John Buchanan’s multiple-captain proposal has generated much controversy, leading to Kolkata Knight Riders co-owner Shah Rukh Khan first challenging Sunil Gavaskar’s criticism of the concept and then offering an apology.

While scandals have their appeal for the public at large, Buchanan’s theory is another out-of-the-box proposal that deserves as much attention as the spat it produced. What Buchanan wants to try is a model where the team has four different bosses. Therefore, a team might end up have a batting captain, a fielding captain, a bowling captain and an overall captain on the field!

On one hand, this model of team-management can extract and consolidate the varied strengths of different players; on the other, it is bound to cause confusion, friction and rupture the team’s sense of unity and purpose. How this cookie crumbles, time will tell. Shah Rukh seems to have faith in Buchanan’s proposal and is willing to take the risk.

Strategy breaks

IPL chief Lalit Modi has commercial reinventions of his own in mind. During IPL matches, Modi wants ‘strategy breaks’ at regular intervals during an innings. This means time-out for players as viewers across the world (about 98% of the audience will watch IPL on TV) get about ten minutes of advertisements as filler.

Though Modi insists he devised this feature with no commercial intent, it is evident that such breaks are aimed at generating revenue for the broadcaster. The IPL is earning Rs. 400 crore from the market, 80% of which will go to franchise owners. Broadcasters Sony will have to generate this volume of revenue for itself, for which more slots are required to air advertising. The ‘strategy breaks’ could facilitate this.

On the downside, there is no guarantee that viewers will sit through ten minutes of commercials and not switch to a news channel in the run-up to the general elections. Also, frequent breaks may be a distraction to a batsman in form. The fielding side and bowlers, though, may welcome such breaks to re-work their field positions and strategy.

Double-edged sword

Not just top bosses, players too are experimenting with newer concepts. Like the proverbial double-edged sword, Team Delhi player Manoj Tiwary wants to try out a double-faced bat, with both sides suitable for hitting. The tricky part will be quickly switching the blade or the grip in order to strike the ball. If it doesn’t work, invariably the player will get the flak from the team management.

Nothing good, however, was ever achieved without taking a risk. Twenty20 is a format of cricket that’s rooted in this theory. It’s all about breaking new ground to keep things fresh and vibrant. Some experiments may work, some may not. That doesn’t mean path-breaking ideas shouldn’t be tried out. Else, the game may become jaded and boring.

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