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How a national debacle gave birth to the Indian Premier League

Siddharth Nair

The year 2007 will forever be remembered as a landmark year for Indian cricket. When we think back to 2007, we will always think of the historic T20 World Cup triumph in South Africa as the standout moment. (How a national debacle gave birth to the Indian Premier League)

But another significant event had happened earlier that year in the Caribbean. India crashed out ignominiously at the group stage of the World Cup and had the country in meltdown.

Cricket has always been more than just a sport to our nation. But the brutality in which the media and the BCCI exposed the Indian team was surprising. The sacking of the coach was just a small formality that was done before he even landed back in India.

A new list of ‘what you could do and what you could not do’ was handed out to every Indian player. Several senior cricketing figures  believed that the BCCI was too lenient with the players and that some changes were required to save Indian cricket.

ALSO READ : How Sachin Tendulkar almost retired 10 years ago 

So that is how the Indian Cricket League was created.

The Indian Cricket League

The ICL was a private cricket league funded by Zee Entertainment Enterprises. This league was supported by Kiran More and Kapil Dev which led to a conflict of interest among them and the BCCI.

The ICL did not have the approval of the ICC either which is why no player who played in the ICL was eligible to represent their national team.

But the ICL was the first ever 20-20 cricket league that was played on a big platform in the country. The BCCI not ready to be outdone also considered a league of their own. There were plans for another T20 league that was going to be approved by the BCCI, but those plans were kept on hold for now.

The first season of the ICL was decided to kick off in November of 2007. (How a national debacle gave birth to the Indian Premier League)

But something happened in the autumn of 2007 that changed the landscape of Indian cricket.

ICC T20 World Cup 2007

“In Indian sport we don’t make anything happen. Accidents happen and we find ourselves in the right place and at the right time” 

India did not want to participate in the World Cup. They said that 20-20 was the answer for the future of cricket as this would adversely affect the 50 overs format of the game.

The BCCI grudgingly agreed to participate in the tournament after they were outvoted and hence had to send a contingent to South Africa.

The BCCI was afraid of another debacle just like the one in the Caribbean a few months earlier. So they sent a very young team who had collectively played only ONE international T20 match previously.

The likes of Dravid, Tendulkar and Ganguly were rested as they did not want ti participate in the tournament. The BCCI did not pressurize them either as they wanted the trio to be fresh for the upcoming Australia and Pakistan series which would immediately follow the World Cup.

We all know what happened next. India scripted an unlikely victory and suddenly the BCCI changed its stance.

From Bad Boys to World Champions

When the team had crashed out of the World Cup months earlier, the BCCI reprimanded all the players and called them undisciplined bad boys. Now they were showered with crores and crores of money from all quarters of the nation.

The BCCI seemed to sweep all the negativity under the carpet and heralded a brave new team under a brave new captain. They will never admit it, but the BCCI did not expect Dhoni to be the success that he was.

While there was talk of sacking Rahul Dravid as the captain, they were not sure who should take over. Tendulkar famously suggested Dhoni but the BCCI were skeptical. (How a national debacle gave birth to the Indian Premier League)

After seeing Dhoni’s impressive performances in the initial matches of the World Cup, the BCCI suddenly announced that Dravid will be steeping down and Dhoni will be taking over as captain of the 50 over format as well.

And the plans for that T20 league that they were discussing suddenly went into overdrive. All of a sudden the league was decided to kick start in 2008.

Today we know that T20 league as the Indian Premier Legaue.

It is funny how the best things come from the most unexpected quarters. No body could have imagined that the debacle in the Caribbean would start a chain of events that would end up in the IPL.

The IPL has transcended not only Indian cricket but world cricket as a whole. Bucket loads of money came into the game and now players were happy to be just goo enough for the IPL. Many people agree while many disagree with what the IPL has done to cricket.

But you cannot deny the impact that it has had.

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