By Amrit Mathur
At one level, the Indian Premier League (IPL) is a tough, demanding grind that saps the players’ mind and body. With 16 matches in six weeks, the IPL is extremely draining with its relentless (travel-training- match) schedule which restricts them to the airport/hotel/ground.
In this frantic whirl, if the team is riding on success then all is well, no one complains. But if the momentum is missing, and the ball is not running your way, the disappointment can be crushing and the weight of failure difficult to carry.
But, as always happens, there is a flip side as well and with pain there is pleasure. IPL offers stunning rewards, not just in terms of top dollar salaries. Besides cricket benefits (quality players competing to produce compelling action), there is plenty of glamour, glitter and glitz – and the glare of the media is never far away. IPL creates an intoxicating high, with smart packaging and slick presentation, and in this high-intensity business, cricket is a product and players valuable instruments for promotions.
At present, the Delhi Daredevils has an air of wellness, power and raw energy about it. The dressing room is happy and players are enjoying each another’s success. In this comfortable space, Yogesh Nagar is a star and Shahbaz Nadeem gets so much bhaav for his performance he feels as tall as Morne Morkel.
Kevin Pietersen, now back in England, thinks IPL is the ultimate finishing school which develops skills and takes the game forward. He urges cricketers to embrace this tournament, and come to India with a positive frame of mind to enjoy the culture and the cricket.
David Warner has joined the squad after an enormously successful season with Australia. Since the last IPL, Warner has had a remarkable journey, and what he is most proud of is not the smashing hundreds scored but the Test wickets he got bowling leg-breaks!
Some sidelights from the Delhi Daredevils’ game in Jaipur:
Security was particularly tight -- to an extent that sniffer dog Arjun checked every car coming into the team hotel.
Rahul Dravid’s wife Vijeta and young kids used the opportunity to visit tourist sites in Jaipur. Apart from Amber Fort, Hawa Mahal, City Palace and Jantar Mantar, the family found time to go to Chokhi Dhani.
Dravid, meanwhile, is the latest convert to golf. His elder son Sambit has taken to the sport, and as parents are not allowed to walk on the fairways, the only way for the doting father to spend time with son, is to also swing a club.
(Amrit Mathur is a former bureaucrat who is Head (Operations), GMR Sports. He was Director (Media), BCCI and has been on cricketer tours either as Manager or Media Manager. He is a columnist with Hindustan Times and plays golf in his spare time)